Thursday, May 17, 2007

Legacy My Ass!

Benjamin Abalos will be retiring as commissioner of the Commission on Elections in 2010. He said that he would like to leave behind a good legacy when he finally steps down. With the way he handled the 2004 and 2007 polls, I don't know what legacy he is talking about.

The 2004 elections saw for the first time the blatant mockery of the electoral process. We witnessed the power of the COMELEC in manipulating the polls. Exposed were several officials in connection with massive cheating. The Garci scandal rocked us out of our senses.

Despite these exposes, the COMELEC headed by Abalos never blinked. Instead, it showed its true color and arrogance. It never investigated those implicated in the cheating. Garci retired and his lieutenants were given more sensitive positions. The cheating machinery we could say, is firmly in place.

The COMELEC never left anything to chance. It served its master to the hilt. What the palace dictated, it followed to the tee. Everything was accommodated. Anything was accepted, hook, line and sinker. It showed its power and might. They are the lords of the elections.

The recent polls were no different. Despite numerous violations in the campaign, it stood in the sidelines and even cleared the violators. They're not about to change their style, nothing gets resolved and complaints just disappear into limbo. It said before the elections that they will be stricter this time around. Yes they were strict, as long as you're with the opposition.

They allowed the party-list law to be bastardized. Fronts and proxy party-lists of entities allied and working for the palace were accepted. Akbayan raised a howl and asked the Supreme Court to force the COMELEC to reveal the faces behind these bogus party-lists. The Ladlad party-list representing the gay/lesbian community was rejected even when they are clearly a marginalized/underrepresented group. The COMELEC showed that they can do anything with impunity.

They never imposed their will against the deployment of the military even during the elections. Civilian rule over the military was merely shrugged off by Esperon. Though openly campaigning against progressive party-lists, the COMELEC never charged the military for electioneering.

The highlight of their arrogance is the Cayetano case. In a bid to take down the palace's fiercest critic, they accepted the candidacy of Joselito "Juju/Peter" Cayetano. To appease the public outcry, they declared Juju a nuisance candidate. That was back in March. Juju never appeared before the the COMELEC to appeal his case. He never showed any interest in his candidacy. A day or two before the elections, a midnight resolution said that all Cayetano votes will now be counted in favor of Alan Cayetano. But a day before the polls opened, the COMELEC's legal department said that Juju can still appeal his case. Citing the much abused due process, they said that any votes bearing just Cayetano will be considered stray.

Voters and even the teachers were now confused. The DepEd in its bid to "clarify" the COMELEC resolution, went around the precincts to inform the teachers of this latest development. Alan Cayetano has asked the Supreme Court to judge the case with finality.

The COMELEC allowed itself to be the tool/machinery of the corrupt and powerful for their cheating operations. They of course can deny this but the people only know too well what happened in the last two elections. Despite the evidences staring them in their face, the COMELEC had the gall to pronounce that the elections were clean, peaceful and credible. Talk about a job well done. They have just outdone the elections of some African countries where cheating in elections is the norm.

From the controversial automation, to the Garci controversy, to the disenfranchisement of voters, to this current lot of commissioners showed us why more and more Filipinos lose faith in the electoral process. The most common perception is that the elections are always rigged.

Legacy, what legacy? All I see is a legacy of cheating. A legacy of absurdity and ineptness. A legacy of arrogance and impunity. That is all I see that Benjamin Abalos will leave when he finally steps down. I wonder what they'll cook up in 2010.