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Saturday, December 2, 2023

Collective grief

“Many are heartbroken, frustrated, and angry.”

If the partial and unofficial election results are true, where is the jubilation from the more than 30 million Filipinos who voted Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. into the presidency?

Where are the street parties of his supporters? So far, what we only see are parties of Marcos with his family and close friends in an ultra-expensive hotel drinking what appeared to be ultra-expensive wine. In a tweet, @joeytrenas77 asked how true is it that Marcos and company was seen partying in Solaire where the Uniteam booked 90 rooms, two villas, one tent and a huge conference room Friday to Sunday following the elections on May 9.

Allegedly, Kim Wong, the businessman implicated in the Bank of Bangladesh scandal, booked and paid for the hotel. The tweet came complete with pictures and someone mischievous zoomed in on the wine bottle on the table. It was Opus One, California Red Wine costing around P50,900.00 a pop. Needless to say, only the super-rich can afford this luxury.

Meanwhile, it seems that even before Marcos’ win becomes official, red-tagging is already heightened.

The University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons tweeted that several student-athletes were stopped by the police on their way back to the campus simply because of their affiliation with UP as an institution. In a statement, the group “…condemns the police’s actions that threatened and traumatized our iskolar ng bayan…”

Similarly, Leni volunteer youth groups in Isabela and Pasacao, Camarines Sur have reported that they were being harassed by uniformed men. The Pasacao group said that they were being profiled and “interviewed” while the Isabela group reported that their Leni-Robredo headquarters was being frequented by, and at times, surrounded by uniformed men. In both cases, the young people felt threatened and scared.

Very recently, the Adarna House Publishing House, popular because of the quality and progressive contents of its children’s books has been red-tagged by no less than the Director-General of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), Alex Paul Monteagudo. He accused the publishing company of “radicalizing children against the government.”

The news that Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. plans to appoint his running-mate and daughter of outgoing strongman Rodrigo Duterte as Secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd) is a huge warning sign. People take this to mean that the duo is out to further revise Philippine history, this time, through the formal educational system.

It is no secret that a big factor that catapulted Marcos into this probable victory is the decades of initiative to change people’s perception of the Martial Law era from one of abuse, corruption, and killing into the so-called “golden era” of the Philippines. These they did primarily through social media. Now, they seem to want to do this through schools.

How dreadful it will be if one day, our young people will become ignorant of how much our country and people suffered under the Marcos and Duterte regimes! We should do all we can so this does not happen for that will be the day when we lose our Filipino spirit.

The published unofficial results of the recent elections are very hard to believe. The country with the slowest internet in Asia became the world’s fastest to transmit “election results.” In just a few hours after the closing of polls (when thousands of voters were still waiting to be able to vote), “results” came pouring in like water released from a dam. In no time at all, Marcos Jr. was touted as having won with an unbelievable margin over the incumbent Vice President Leni Robredo.

During the campaign period, there have been numerous reports supported by pictures and videos of illegal acts committed by Marcos allies and supporters. They were shown distributing cash to people in various places. Government vehicles were also used for the campaign.

On election day itself, almost 2,000 vote-counting machines malfunctioned and thousands of voters were forced to wait the entire day, some throughout the night, to be able to vote. Many others chose to leave their polling places and allowed their ballots to be handled by other people.

There were videos showing policemen tearing ballots with votes for Robredo and her candidates. Some people were shown shading a big number of ballots. In some areas, uniformed personnel stayed in the actual precincts were voting was going on and intimidated voters—a clear violation of election rules. There were areas where violence occurred and machines and ballots were destroyed.

There were reports saying that Leni Robredo received zero votes from 595 precincts. This, truly is unbelievable.

Obviously, there was massive cheating and voter disenfranchisement. Even with evidence, some in the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) said that it will be very hard to prove cheating. This is not surprising coming from the poll body whose entire leadership was appointed by Rodrigo Duterte.

Robredo’s campaign was very largely volunteer-driven. Filipinos young and old from across economic classes invested money, talent, time, and many other resources. There was an outpouring of love and respect not only to Robredo and her slate but to other Filipinos as well. It was truly a people’s campaign fueled by volunteerism and goodwill—a first in the history of Philippine politics.

Her people’s rallies, almost purely volunteer-organized and coordinated, were unprecedented culminating in an estimated one million Filipinos attending her Miting de Avance in Makati. All these because Robredo inspired hope. After six years of Duterte’s impunity, there was hope for a better Philippines, or so people thought.

No wonder, people are grieving. Many are heartbroken, frustrated, and angry. Not a few have said that they will now refuse to help government even in times of calamities. The official counting of votes is proceeding ever so slowly and this is not helping any. Robredo has not conceded and people do not want her to.

Robredo herself is the epitome of equanimity. People are angry and bitter, but not her. Until this time, her composure is inspiring. While there is collective grief and frustration, she tells people that she understands and requests her supporters to be still, as she is not abandoning the work for a better Philippines.

If the unofficial results are indeed true and we cannot see Marcos supporters happily celebrating because of reasons unknown to us, there is reason to collectively grieve. We lost a golden opportunity in the presidency of a Leni Robredo, FOR NOW.

After grieving and if the results are unchanged, we buckle up to work. There will be other elections (or so we hope).

@bethangsioco on Twitter
Elizabeth Angsioco on Facebook

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