OPINION: Elections over but not the count

Teddy Locsin, Jr.

Posted at May 13 2016 01:32 AM

THE elections are over; the fat ladies have sung; one of them even landed in the winning senatorial slate. The presidency is filled by Rody Duterte. Only the vice presidency is still hanging and it is by a thread.

But it must be said that dangling from that thread are two highly probable winners: Bongbong Marcos, whose candidacy swept like wildfire across the islands, and Leni Robredo who started like a little spark trying to set fire to a few twigs but soon it was a Canadian forest fire.      

She began flat at the bottom of the surveys. It was painful to watch her shyness but not for long. Within 2 months she was, not numerically, but statistically neck and neck with Bongbong Marcos. Not neck-to-neck which conjures a disturbing image of the pair in the backseat of a car.

Soon Leni striding the stage like a champion, treading the floorboards lightly like a— How politely can I say this of a lady? Let’s see. No, not a heavyweight. Her figure’s faboolous. Let’s say like a light middleweight boxer. And she was saying, not what her running mate was saying to his own doom, but quite the opposite. Soon she was treating every stage she walked on, and talked from, like it was her… I wouldn’t say living room. Polite people do not declaim there—but in the shade of a tree with her neighbors. Still bongbong marcos was ahead. And then the election happened.

As expected, Bongbong shot to the top of the count; and as expected, Leni was right behind him biting his tail. Not a polite image. But then she overtook him— first by 50,0000; and now by over 200,000.

While this was going on, some pretty funny names topped the winning senatorial slate. Now, Risa Hontiveros was rightly up there after languishing far below in one election and coming within spitting distance in the next. Persistence paid in her case and she had a lot of it. But be all that as it may—although I doubt that TESDA graduated 17 million bartenders, the numbers of the winning slate never changed. Everyone stayed exactly in their first assigned places; with Drilon and TESDA Boy changing places as if to avert suspicion. But the changing numbers for Leni and for Bongbong did not disturb the stagnant numbers of the winning senatorial slate that was frozen in place. It is as if the electorate had conspired to give the same number of votes to all 12 candidates— about 16 million. Now we are expected to leave it at that. All the while more votes keep coming in the vice presidential race.

Now while it is true that the position of vice president is nothing, and that if Leni gets it she will not lend herself to a doomed impeachment planned by those who picked her only as an afterthought, who planned to junk her for Chiz until her numbers were too high, and who so maltreated her husband they may have contributed to his death. For sure, they made sure she could not take immediate political advantage of it. They denied her a slot in their sure to win 2013 senate slate. They were resolved that she was nothing and she would stay that way so as not to challenge anybody else’s ambition.

But whether you are for Leni or for Marcos, their votes must be recounted just the same in order to answer any suspicion about how and from where their respective votes came. This has nothing to do with either one or with martial law or the legacy of Cory which is safe with the likes of us. It has everything to do with an election system that is totally out of the control of people both voters and BEIs and entirely in the control of nobody can say.

It is said that any irregularities or peculiarities in the conduct or count of the automated election, must be substantiated by those who point them out. Only idiots say that. The only duty of voters is to point out seeming irregularities—and immediately the onus shifts to the COMELEC to explain them away—but never, never, never to brush them off. It is possible that after trying in vain to eliminate the tremendous lead of Duterte, by knocking out VCMS in parts of Mindanao, Visayas, Luzon, and all of Metro Manila including Quezon City, the cheaters gave up. They turned their attention to lesser positions like the VP and the Senate, Congress and local officials. But if we leave it at that, then basically we should hold incontestably honest elections only for the president and let him appoint all the rest. That would be cheaper.

No, the burden is entirely on the COMELEC to answer each and every concern. No burden lies on the suspicious to substantiate their suspicions. But what about the presumption of innocence? Doesn’t that extend to the COMELEC? Sure, if you went to a lousy local law school. The presumption of innocence does not apply to institutions nor to anything or anybody else but an individual accused until he is found guilty beyond all reasonable doubt in a court of law after a fair trial.

What about the lesser presumption of governmental regularity? Again, if you went to the right law school that does not mean that government acts are presumptively regular. It merely begs the question whether government acts are regular when the irregular is the new normal like now.

So by all means demand the answers to all objections, allay all fears, dispel all suspicions, and if need be recount the vice presidential election—and if you ask me the senatorial as well. Because a republic cannot long live with a fundamental mistrust of itself, with the self-consuming suspicion that people en banc are laughing behind their ample sleeves all the way to the bank.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.