The two big news this week was the Commission on Elections’ disqualification of Senator Grace Poe last Tuesday and the decision of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to finally enter the 2016 presidential race.
The second division of the Comelec dealt a big blow to the candidacy of the senator. Although this decision is appealable to the Comelec en banc and eventually to the Supreme Court, I doubt whether this decision will be reversed. Nonetheless, the camp of Senator Poe already said that it would appeal the decision. Since time is of the essence, her lawyers will have to decide whether to appeal to the Comelec en banc or go straight to the Supreme Court.
Whatever the decision will be, it is going to be an uphill battle—that is saying it mildly. Yes, the Comelec and the Supreme Court are constitutional bodies and are supposed to be independent. But as a lot of people already know, both bodies could be susceptible to pressure especially the Comelec because of its reputation as being corrupt. In addition, all the commissioners are appointees of President Aquino.
Did the Palace have anything to do with the disqualification? It is the most likely suspect because its candidate, Mar Roxas, stands to gain the most from Senator Poe’s disqualification. It is also the only one with the clout to pressure the Comelec. The poll body has also continued to enter into questionable contracts in spite of intense public clamor for it to cut its business ties with Smartmatic.
The Comelec should also know better than to award the more-than-P500-million transmission contract to Smartmatic. It simply does not have the capability of its own to transmit the results of the national elections. The Comelec will have to use Globe, Smart and Sun Cellular to transmit the election results. If the commissioners do not know this, the IT people should. The Comelec therefore, just handed Smartmatic a huge Christmas present at the expense of the taxpayer.
The perplexing thing is that the telecommunications companies are not complaining. Could it be that Smartmatic has already “fixed” the problem? The Supreme Court, on the other hand, has shown that it is capable of independent decision. One reason for this is perhaps because all the justices are not appointees of the current President. Let us hope that in this instance, the court decides on the merits of the case with the interest of the Filipino people and country in mind. If the decision is seen by the people as a political maneuver simply to eliminate a popular candidate so that the administration can ram into the throats of the voters, the candidate that it wants to win, then there is a danger of unleashing a force that the administration might not be able to control.
It is a big risk but since the stakes are so high it probably is worth taking. There are people who simply do not like to lose.
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After much equivocation, Mayor Duterte has finally decided to run for president. The announcement was vintage Duterte. If there is one thing about all our presidential candidates, there are very little issues that divide them. Mayor Duterte, however, is bringing into the ballgame two issues that differentiate him from the others.
One is his plan for a federal form of government. This may not sound and look attractive to the other candidates who prefer to maintain the current unitary and centralized government that we have but it is perhaps the only vehicle that can grant the aspirations of the Muslim Filipinos in Mindanao. People in Mindanao, know that the current form of government cannot grant what the Muslims are asking unless the constitution is amended. And passing the Bangsamoro Basic Law may not be the best solution either.
A federal form of government, however, can grant them what they want. Muslim Filipinos deserve to be granted autonomy so that they can chart their own development based on their customs, traditions and culture and not because they have been oppressed as Dr. Sheila Coronel would like us to believe.
The other strong suit of Mayor Duterte is his unorthodox approach to law enforcement, which has earned him the moniker of “the punisher.” Ordinarily, his unusual methods would have generated a lot of condemnation but instead, it has made him more popular that even in Metro Manila, a lot do not seem to mind his methods.
Instead of emphasizing his strong credentials, however, a lot of time was spent on trivialities punctuated by frequent bouts of profanities. He also spent quite an amount on time on Senator Grace Poe’s presidential candidacy saying that it is a serious violation of the constitution. It seems to be his primary reason for running. Since Senator has now been disqualified, does that mean that the reason for his candidacy is gone?
He also spent a lot of time frolicking about his two wives and two girlfriends. I do not know whether he should have done this. People might have considered this in bad taste. The whole nation was after all watching him but as he says, what you see is what you get. Because he is starting to do well in the surveys, will he also be subjected to the same attacks as VP Binay and Senator Poe? Maybe. But those who are planning to do this must be prepared to face the consequences. After all, Mayor Duterte can play dirty and perhaps even dirtier against those people who might be entertaining the thought of mounting a demolition job against him. He is not called “punisher” for nothing.