i accuse

“Mr. President, distinguished colleagues- I hold in my hand the documents to sustain the charges. In the national interest therefore I ask that the same be referred to the Blue Ribbon Committee and the Committee on Justice to conduct the needed investigation pursuant to pertinent provisions of the constitution and the statutes relevant thereto.”

– Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Jr.

MAKATI, Philippines – Vice President Guingona’s “I Accuse” is considered by many to be one of the more meaningful privilege speeches in the annals of the Philippine Senate. I admire the speech for its being able to succinctly lay out his case and recommend the appropriate course of action. No unnecessary verbiage. No unsubstantiated innuendoes and irrelevant hearsay. Just the facts and “the” what’s next.

I think of this as we suffer the through the antics of the “complainants” who have paraded before the House Committee on Electoral Reforms and Suffrage. First of all, I have to say that Teddy Boy Locsin should be admired for the delicate balancing act of having to consistently maintain his belief that there has been no systematic and widespread fraud in the conduct of elections while allowing the possibility of there being isolated incidents of such.

Nevertheless, we would have to wonder what the point of these hearings is. When asked by Congressman Golez this question during the first day of the hearings, Teddy Boy sort of waffled through an answer which was an unconvincing “in aid of legislation”. I’m not really sure what Congressman Locsin had in mind when he conceived of holding these hearings. I grant that as a primary mover of the automated election exercise he may have felt it his duty to provide a venue for critics and whiners to vent their complaints. I can, however, surmise that this was not the circus that he expected when this all began. It seems that the Committee leadership has lost control of these hearings.

I give Congressman Locsin credit for what I presume to be his noble intention but it takes two to tango, as they say. The complainants appear not to have played by the script turning the hearings instead into a quagmire of accusations based on hearsay, innuendo and worse, the pure lack of common sense. The hearings have turned into a venue for forum shopping and an arena for exacting their pound of flesh from the current flavour of the month –the SMARTMATIC-TIM guys.

If the Committee leadership chooses to continue with this charade, I would humbly suggest that they assert control over the proceedings. They have to go back to their intended purpose which is to aid legislation (I’m stretching here). One way would be to have the complainants read and submit their written accusations and any evidence to buttress their positions. Collate and organize these complaints and have the SMARTMATIC-TIM and COMELEC guys come back and answer these allegations. It is unfair to expect the “accused” to answer many of these complaints involving so and so precinct right then and there. By the time all these are done, all the Committee as currently constituted can do is pass on their findings to the next set of Committee members in the new Congress. In so doing, we might even be able to save some of these complainants from exposing their own ignorance.

For the complainants, wala namang silbi yung Committee na ‘to in resolving their protests. For Congressional candidates, I believe the proper body to address their complaints would be the House Electoral Tribunal which does not get formed until the next Congress gets sworn in. I’ve not heard Risa Hontiveros (sayang L) complaining, so nothing on the Senate front. And for the local candidates, if I’m not mistaken the appropriate adjudicating body is the COMELEC. Finally, if they are honest to goodness appearing in the hearings to aid legislation – ayusin niyo naman yung arguments and supporting evidence niyo.

I can’t help but make mention of Representative Susano. Has she even thought of the consequences of her possession of what she thinks is a smoking gun? First of all, if the “CFC” cards in her possession are legitimate, she is in possession of stolen property. Even if she did not steal these “CFC” cards herself, she is aiding and abetting in the commission of a crime. Second, what she should have done when she was presented the “CFC” cards was to inform the COMELEC of this anomaly and have the person or persons who had the cards arrested for any number of election offenses or simple plain robbery. She should know better (or maybe she doesn’t).   I hope hindi palalampasin ‘to ng COMELEC, the House and law enforcement authorities or is that hoping for too much?

Talk as they say is cheap. I have heard (so don’t hold me to this) that one remedy in resolving election protests is to have a manual count of the ballots. I have heard a complainant, Rep. Raul Gonzales, proposing this. If this is correct, the complainant should be made to pay for the cost of doing so. This way, we make talk expensive or expose those who just want to hear themselves talk.

I think everyone agrees that the elections weren’t perfect but with what I know now:

  1. There has yet to be any credible evidence of widespread fraud in the elections; and,
  2. There has yet to be any credible and unchallenged* (by COMELEC or SMARTMATIC-TIM) evidence of fraud on the local level.

Frankly, I am sick and tired of all this. I am sure I am not alone when I say that I’m pulling for these elections to eventually be proven generally fair and honest. I am sure I am not alone when I say that I am pulling for the COMELEC commissioners and James Jimenez. In the credibility battle, Chairman Melo and his guys are still head and shoulders above Rep. Susano and her ilk.

I sincerely hope that we still have the same vision of having our nation rise above these challenges. I would also hope that anyone who feels wronged by this election show some restraint by pursuing resolution in the appropriate venues and not just play us for fools for the sake of another 15 minutes of fame.

My final appeal to them would be to think that the Filipino people that they say they are fighting for is having his psyche damaged by all the unnecessary doubt and uncertainty that this has engendered.

Ganito na ba talaga tayo – isang bansa ng manloloko?

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