1. Election Fraud? Fraudulent Claims? Good Lord Not Again.

    Sad to say cries of election fraud are growing, took a little bit longer than expected, but I think that was a by-product of the new electoral system. They couldn’t figure out the best way to cast doubt on the elections.

    First, I have no doubt that there were cases of electoral fraud, likely on local levels. That’s pretty damn normal, no matter what type of system is being used. But the accusations are coming now on a national level, the most recent courtesy of Buddy Cunanan.

    The video was shown during a Manila forum by newspaper columnist Buddy Cunanan, who said he got it from a friend whom the witness had approached to tell his story.

    The man had a “crisis of conscience,” Cunanan said, adding he had documentary evidence and wanted the government to conduct an investigation.

    “Both parties are willing to come out in the open in the proper forum,” he said.

    Fraud Tales Grow Taller - Inquirer

    Masked men, the friend of my friend said and cries of “I have evidence” have, again become part of the normal post-election din. My suspicion is most of this stuff is sour-graping. The sad part is, that all of this grand-standing is likely overshadowing and complicating investigating voting fraud.

    There is an old saying “attack the messenger, not the message.” However, in this case I believe that understanding the messenger is important to understanding the context of the message.

    Buddy Cunanan is related to Belinda Olivares-Cunanan (she of the second most vituperative attacks against Noynoy, along with Carmen Pedrosa). The publisher of The Daily Tribune is Ninez Cacho-Olivares, a decidedly pro-Erap, anti-Aquino rag. Sadly, the Daily Tribune has left most of their journalistic integrity by the wayside and were one of the most “hysterical” of “newpapers” during the election. That has not abated since. From today:

    The first ones to be dropped during Cory’s reign were the politicians, then led by Doy Laurel. Next went the so-called yellow group, composed of civil socialites, such as the yellow businessmen who incidentally, came up with pretty corrupt deals. In the end, Cory and her Kamag-Anak Inc. reigned supreme and got away with it, because the yellow media protected her and hardly ever brought these issues to the public, as Cory was their creation, just as Noynoy is today. The yellow media have gone the extent of calling Noynoy the “people’s president.” That’s really over the top.

    He will be a minority president if he is proclaimed and he does not speak for the people, but for the frigging elite. Truth is, Noynoy is a spoiled brat who wants to have his way all the time, which is why he and his supporters, who were Gloria supporters, wanted Corona out of the CJ picture.

    - Empty Threats

    Honestly, that’s some of the more tempered comments she’s had.

    Does she have a point? Of course she does, I happen to agree that Aquino should not be expending political capital by going after Corona. It was signed and agreed upon by the Supreme Court. Do I agree with the decision of the Supreme Court? Not at all. But Aquino, with some political tap-dancing, could use this to gain further favorable political points that he can expend in the future. The appearance of reconciliation now will further bolster his moves to investigate GMA and other shenanigans in the future.

    But back to Buddy Cunanan. This then becomes the problem. The extended family of Buddy have been some of the most rabid supporters of Erap (historically as well with regards to The Daily Tribune), GMA (Belinda Olivares-Cunanan) and Gibo (Travelife, published by his sister, for which he writes). They have all been supremely anti-Aquino in their rhetoric (The Daily Tribue and Belinda were some of the loudest with regards to the whole “mental instability” of Aquino). Taken within context then, Buddy’s secret video, masked man and so forth takes on another aspect.

    I hope that the Congress gets to the bottom of these issues. And if they are found to be valid, steps are taken. What those may be, I am not sure. But I am sure proclaiming the election invalid will be one of them. And if the presidential election is then invalid, all are invalid.

    The needed suspension of disbelief though is quite large to believe that Aquino and the LP had the ground forces necessary to pull off this type of massive fraud. Essentially, the premise is that the LP now (I guess) had even more reach and influence than the combined might of the PMP and the Lakas-Kampi. GMA, Erap, Villar and Gibo were all out-maneuvered by the LP and Aquino? The LP was so good in fact, that they were only able to place Drilon and TG Guingona in the Senate, barely picked up any seats in the House and lost VPship to Binay?

    Or was that, Roxas was backstabbed by Aquino and Aquino made a clandestine deal with Binay running under Erap’s banner. Which means that Binay in turn, either back-stabbed Erap, or Aquino had brokered a deal with Erap through Binay to give him the VPship.

    Again, I am more than positive that there were electoral issues,  and they must be addressed and investigated. My suspicion though, again, is that these are localized issues and do not necessarily reflect some sort of national conspiracy.

    These types of agitations and madly dire proclamations (at the heart appearing to be only extensions of pre-election rhetoric) are doing nothing except further muddying the issues. This type of grandstanding is doing nothing more than laying the groundwork for issues over the next six years (impeachments and so forth).

    If there is evidence, present it. Simple as that. As a matter of fact, I sincerely hope that there is proof. If not, the reputations of those involved are further sullied and all this has done is further a personal agenda of those involved at the expense of national good.

    I for one (no matter my political beliefs) would be concerned about having an illegitimate president. But right now, all they are doing is basically casting baseless aspersions and attempting to weaken the mandate of Aquino, while bolstering the newly national credentials of Erap and his claim on the presidency. Or was it Gibo and his credentials? Where is Villar in all of this? Or, was Aquino in fact, GMA’s secret candidate?

    Maybe at the end of the day, the whole point is simply to weaken the mandate of Aquino. If that is the case, then I pity these people.


  2. Camelot

    I’ve been thinking of writing something longer and more incisive on the subject of the themes of this election. But, for now Binay’s rise to prominence is a perfect vehicle to touch on one of themes I noticed. Namely, Camelot as a campaign.

    The dominant theme of this election was Camelot: hope, change and goodness. Noynoy was able to sell that message quite effectively. Genetics and borrowed aura played a huge part in it, but that does not necessarily explain his dominant victory; or the second place finish of Erap.

    Noynoy and his campaign crafted a campaign message grounded on hope and built on a response to the collapse of the Philippines over the last 10 years. Erap as well was able to effectively campaign on this premise. EDSA II has become a regret, and Erap (compared to GMA) has begun smelling of roses. While he did not have the traction to overtake the message of Aquino, his themes of pro-poverty and anti-GMA resonated. Not only that, but part of the collapse of Villar can be traced to Erap becoming more prominent; and people remembering the role Villar played in Erap’s downfall.

    Noynoy and Erap sold, in varying degrees, Camelot to the people. Binay, who has always been identified with Cory Aquino and being a vehement critic of GMA, is the Mayor of Makati. For many Filipinos (and I say this with just a touch of irony) Makati and it’s Golden Ghettos is as close to Camelot as the Philippines has. It is difficult to counter the physical reality of wealth and achievement, with the relatively ephemeral achievements of successful economic policies.

    Binay sold the Dream of Makati; and he had the apparent credentials to back it up. Namely, many of his pro-poor programs such as the Senior Citizen’s card, an innovation that began in Makati. Roxas, while having much more impressive credentials vis-a-vis job creation and encouraging foreign investment (the Father of Outsourcing and PEZA), could not sell that as an tangible vision.

    In the end, this election (like 1953 and 1986) was the story of moral and collective calls to action in response to the current administration. - with the vision of a Philippine Camelot as the achievable dream for all.

    For Noynoy, Camelot came in the form of honesty, integrity and continuing the work of his sanctified parents - the two who became the figureheads in the movements to tear-down a corrupt dictator. While Roxas would have been the perfect candidate to work reforms in the Philippines, he did not come with the built-in resonance that Binay possesses. For Binay, his connection to Erap (and Erap’s newly minted status as bad-but-not-as-bad-as-GMA), his connection to Cory Aquino, the relatively unknown status of his personal wealth and his stature as leading Makati all became contributing factors in his apparent rise to the top of the partial post-election returns.


  3. A Request for the Candidates

    Quite your bitchin’.

    The lines are drawn, the information is out there, the majority of the voters have made up their minds…and further black propaganda, temper tantrums, thinly veiled threats, insults, lies and innuendos are not going to work. As a matter of fact, if anything, what we’ve seen is that the Filipino public is becoming more discerning. Lies have fallen flat, black propaganda rebounded. Don’t believe it? Just look at the issues that have become relevant and look at those that did not.

    So shut the fuck up. All of you.

    The only thing left that will sway the remaining voters is to tell us about you. Not where you say you’ve come from, not what you think you’ve done for the country…it’s no longer even truly about your qualifications.

    It’s about hope and the promise of what you can bring to the country. It’s about making us believe that you are the President. Not some lackey, not some manipulator or agitator or loose cannon or  even a precocious savant. But the President. The man who will lead us out of the morass that we’ve found ourselves in.

    Wonder why some have failed to gain traction? It’s really not that hard to figure out with what has gone on in the last 10 years.

    At the end of the day, cutting through the rhetoric and looking past all of the issues and propaganda and innuendos, the truth is people today are going to vote for hope. Not since Martial Law have things felt so bleak. Manolo Quezon called it The Great Remembrance. I hope that this time our memories are a little longer than in 1986. To re-embrace the aura of People Power is well and good. But the constant need to manufacture that feeling repeatedly is destroying this country.

    Today, we need to build on this election, on this feeling

    So, if you want to have a chance at making a move in the last week, drop the cutesy slogans about corruption or poverty or track record or your overwhelming intelligence. Don’t give a fuck anymore (especially since, so many of the slogans are not even applicable to the candidate).

    Talk about hope and change and what you are going to do for us. And make us believe it.

    Belief is hope this election season.

    And this election must become a building block for the future. What type of future will we have, if the first step, the first building block is anger and hatred and insults?

    Sad as it is to say, the largest impediments to our growth as a  nation is not the poverty situation, the economic situation, the state of education or our health system. It’s our politicians and so-called civil servants. Their selfish whims and short-sided desires have pushed this country into a downward spiral.

    And no amount of People Power revolutions or revolts will fix that. You know why? Because at the end of the day, after revolts and revolutions, leaders still have to lead. They still have to make that conscious choice to put the country ahead of the self. Why did People Power fail in its long-term objectives? It’s not the so-called civil society oligarchs or big businesses. It was our so-called politicians.

    Hope and belief and change. They can happen, they will happen. And those are the dominant emotions driving this election. So, the question becomes for candidates, and Comelec; politicians old and new:

    Are you doing to remain selfish and shortsided? Or are you actually going to work to help this country?

    In one week, the people will make their choice. And if the Comelec lives up to their charter, it will truly be the choice of the people. That will be step one. Our step.

    Step two and all the little steps beyond are up to each and every one of you in government.

    I hope you feel the pressure. All of us do.


  4. Conflict of Interest or How to Make Money in Politics

    Villar pressure on PSE to okay stock offering bared - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos

     Estrada said this showed that Villar was directly managing his company which was a violation of the law.

    "He should have divested all his interest when he assumed his position as senator," Estrada said.

    Joker Arroyo was right (in this instance), and of course back when he still had credibility.

    For a recap of what he said in his speech by Winnie Monsod go here.  

    Villar violated RA6713 (Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials), Sec. 9: “Divestment — A public official or employee should avoid conflicts of interest at all times. When a conflict of interest arises, he shall resign from his position in any private business enterprise within thirty (30) days from his assumption of office and/or divest himself of his shareholdings or interest within sixty(days) from such assumption” — because:

    1. “Speaker Villar, from 1992 to 1998, did not divest himself of his interests in, nor did he sever his connections with, the companies aforestated.”

    2. Nor had Speaker Villar, up until the time Arroyo gave his privilege speech, divested himself of those interests, etc., which, Arroyo pointed out, was a continuing violation.

    Joker Arroyo summed up the above charges thusly: “The constitutional prohibition is very simple. If a Representative has a controlling interest in a firm or entity, that firm or entity cannot be extended a loan, a guaranty, or a financial accommodation for any business purpose from any government financial institution.“If that firm or entity would like to obtain a loan, a guaranty or a financial accommodation from a government financial institution, that firm or entity must first relieve itself of the controlling interest of the Representative.“It is my humble submission that Speaker Villar did not do either.”

    Post-Arroyo speech, nothing was done by the Philippines government to pressure Villar to divest his shares.  If the Inquirer article is to be believed, quite the contrary occurred.  Namely, Villar in the intervening years was able to turn around and pressure government agencies to act unethically:

    Presenting minutes of the Philippine Stock Exchange discussions in 2007 on Villar’s Vista Land and Lifescapes, Inc., Enrile said Villar appeared in a regular meeting of the PSE board and then had a caucus with them in June 2007.
    As a result of Villar’s appearance before the PSE board, Enrile said, the board allowed the release from escrow of locked-up VLL shares for the company’s public offering.

    By forcing the PSE to allow his companies to sell he profited to the tune of Php26 billion (reportedly).

    All this would have taken was a bit of investigative journalism, as in hey look he’s listed as a shareholder and officer of these companies while he was congressman and senator, to prove conflict of interest.

    RA6713 is very explicit concerning what constitutes conflict of interest:

    "“Conflict of interest” arises when a public official or employees is a member of a board, an officer, or a substantial stockholder of a private corporations or owner or has a substantial interest in a business, and the interest of such corporation or business, or his rights or duties therein, may be opposed to or affected by the faithful performance of official duty."

    Ethics, obviously has no part in Philippine politics.  No wait, I shouldn’t say that. Villar obviously has no desire to act in an ethical manner. Ethics and such amorphous ideas as ‘conflict of interest’ may not be part of his vocabulary.

    Note:  I love that its Erap and Enrile announcing this stuff. Good lord, those two? Crying foul about unethical actions and conflict of interest?  Gotta love it.


  5. Compromise…or why Duterte gets support…

    While I have been fairly consistent with my support of Senator Aquino and Senator Roxas (more Roxas than Aquino), the turncoat and compromise-inducing nature of Philippine politics still disturbs me at times.

    The latest of those political double-take inducing moments comes from Davao City, where gung-ho Mayor Duterte has thrown his support behind the LP. And Congressman Acosta (whom I like as an educator and enviromental activist) has welcomed him with open arms:

    “The stand of Davao City in politics behind the leadership of Mayor Duterte will create following across Mindanao. It will set a trend,” said LP senatorial candidate Nereus Acosta. Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and his daughter, Vice Mayor Sara Duterte on Friday night endorsed the LP slate led by Senators Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino and Mar Roxas in a rally near the Freedom Park.

    Taken from a purely political perspective, this is good for the LP. Duterte will help to counteract whatever influence may come from Nograles (who now may be supporting Villar). While Duterte, and his family, have long been supporters of Aquino (so this comes as no real surprise), he has been a polarizing figure. While he has been boon in terms of bringing peace and order, his human rights resume is sketchy at best. Vigilantism, with no ethical grounding other than only kill the wrongdoers, has been an attribute of his.

    Do the ends justify the means?

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