By Joy Konstantine Agustin THE news about Among Ed Panlilio running for President literally created a buzz over the country's political landscape. Activists hoorayed. Traditional politicians booed. Church leaders are divided. The bloggers are skeptical. Among Ed running for president? Come on! I mean, seriously?! Let's face it. Minutes after Pampanga Gov. Ed Panlilio disclosed to the public that he is taking a shot at the highest post in the country, people had mixed opinions about his intentions. As what usually happens when someone announces his intentions to run for a public office, rumors of incapability, allegations of corruption, and bad reputations start to swell and prematurely stop, if not to kill, the momentous announcement. Yes, the voting populace is becoming more mature in choosing a candidate. We have witnessed how popular candidates lost in the 2007 elections. But as people become more mature, they start to dig deeper. They do their research. They watch the news, read the papers. They see the good and the bad sides. And here we are, being presented an alternative and reform candidate who made a phenomenal entrance in the political scenery when he toppled and won over the political giants in Pampanga. And here we are, being presented the various reactions from seasoned politicians, political analysts and survey results that tend to help (or disturb) the way we choose our leaders. The people clamor for change. The people have long wanted for an alternative and reform candidate to emerge and bid for the presidential post. We want it. But are we bold enough to choose correctly? Are we really ready?
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Muslim rebel group Moro Islamic Liberation Front has joined President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's call for the postponement of the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which is also going to be the election that would test the automated election system mandated by law. Lira Dalangin-Fernandez also reported on MILF spokesperson Eid Kabalu's disclosure about his meeting with the President in Shariff Kabunsuan not to discuss the pending peace agreement but to oversee the implementation of a government project involving the clearing and dredging of the heavily silted Rio Grande de Mindanao in the province. Arroyo's recommendation came after lawmakers have indicated plans to file separate bills to push for the postponement of the ARMM polls. Commission on Elections chairman Jose Melo, however, wanted the ARMM polls to push through, but also noted that "it's up to Congress."
SO, who the heck are the five Commission on Elections nominees whose names have been submitted to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo? Here's an excerpt from the "Lack of transparency in Comelec selection process hit" Breaking News story of INQUIRER.net reporter Veronica Uy:
On Monday, the MalacaÃ±anag-formed search committee submitted its five nominees to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo but refused name them. â€œ[This] lack of transparency is unconstitutional... The people have the right to know who the nominees are,â€ said Majority Floor Leader Francis Pangilinan. The seven soon to be vacant seats in the poll body are currently being occupied by Resurreccion Borra as acting Comelec chairperson, Commissioners Florentino Tuason, Romeo Brawner, Nicodemo Ferrer, and Rene Sarmiento, and the still-to-be-confirmed Moslemen Macarambon.
By Lawrence Casiraya INQUIRER.net MANILA, Philippines--The Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) will begin its six-month evaluation to determine which technology the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will use for automating the 2010 presidential elections. CICT chair Ray Anthony Roxas-Chua said eight vendors have been selected to test their solutions within the six-month period in selected areas nationwide. "These vendors have solutions that use OMR (optical mark reader) and DRE (direct recording electronic) machines," Roxas-Chua said during a meeting Wednesday with the IT Association of the Philippines (ITAP). As CICT chair, he heads a technical advisory committee tasked to help Comelec with its computerization efforts. By law, the Comelec should undergo computerization in the May 2010 polls but whatever solution selected should be tested in a prior election practice. The CICT is looking to deploy automation in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao special elections. "Automation is not only about cost," Roxas-Chua said. "That is why we are conducting a detailed study to find out how the public would react to these technologies." The Comelec was supposed to automate this year's May senatorial polls but did not push through with the plan following the controversial P1.3-billion contract with MegaPacific Consortium that was nullified by the courts.
By Beverly T. Natividad Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--If the police can't do it, perhaps the citizenry can. Now considered as a "fugitive from justice," Maguindanao election supervisor Lintang Bedol is now being offered for citizen arrest. As Bedol continued to evade an arrest warrant issued against him, Commission on Elections Acting Chairman Resurreccion Borra cited on Monday the right and the power of every citizen to arrest the poll supervisor on site and bring him to the nearest local police. "Any arrest is welcome for that matter as long as he's incarcerated," said Borra in an interview. Despite media reports that Bedol has been able to dodge arrest in Maguindanao, Borra said as of Monday, the Comelec was awaiting a formal report from Chief Supt. Joel R. Goltiao, the Philippine National Police (PNP) director of ARMM, regarding the matter. "He is a professional soldier so he has to make a professional report to tell us of his compliance or non-compliance with Bedol's arrest order," said Borra. The ARMM police chief, he said, has not contacted any of the poll body commissioners to apprise them of the situation. He added the Comelec needed Goltiao's official report on Bedol to have a formal basis in evaluating and acting on the situation. Before government offices took a break for the long "All Saints'" weekend, the Comelec sent a resolution compelling Goltiao to carry out the warrant of arrest against Bedol issued last Oct. 23. The Comelec felt that Goltiao was "dilly-dallying" in his implementation of the arrest warrant. Talking to the media last Saturday, Goltiao announced that the ARMM police was unable to track down Bedol in Maguindanao. The warrant of arrest against Bedol was based on the Comelec's August 2007 ruling which found him guilty of indirect contempt. His conviction was based, among others, on his failure to appear before the Comelec despite repeated summons to answer questions on alleged cheating activities in Maguindanao. The Comelec is still set to file new charges against Bedol for various violations of the Civil Service law.
By DJ Yap Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--Candidates running for barangay (village) or Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) posts in Makati City were warned not to violate election laws on the posting of campaign materials, lest they get fined. The city government of Makati, through its environmental services department, also asked the candidates to minimize the use of campaign posters and to post them only on exterior walls allowed by the Commission on Elections. "These campaign materials are eyesores and we do not want our city to be littered with them," city environment department chief Danilo Villas said on Thursday. "Now that we are approaching the official campaign period, which will start on October 19, we must step up our efforts to ensure that our environmental and election laws are upheld in Makati," he said. He called on the candidates to comply with the city's ordinance prohibiting the defacement of walls and public spaces and avoid posting campaign materials on walls and lampposts along major roads. Villas said his office has been directed to remove all campaign materials posted outside the Comelec designated areas, in accordance with the Makati Solid Waste Code as well as election laws covering campaign materials. Under the Code, individual violators are fined P1, 000, while organizations are required to pay P5, 000. Villas, who also heads the Association of Metro Manila Environment Officers, reminded the candidates that they should first obtain the consent of homeowners if they wanted to post campaign materials on the walls of private residences. He also urged residents to report candidates seen violating the laws.
By Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has accredited the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) as its citizen's arm for the October 29 Barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) elections. In a resolution, the Comelec en banc granted the PPCRV's August 10 petition seeking accreditation. The Comelec said that it has considered PPCRV's commendable participation in past electoral exercises as well as its commitment toward honest, clean, credible, and peaceful elections, for its accreditation of the group. It added, the PPCRV has also sufficiently complied with the Comelec's accreditation rules. The Comelec said that the PPCRV will conduct poll watching and assist voters in various precincts, and assist the Comelec in providing voter's information and values education in municipalities, cities and provinces. Beverly T. Natividad
By Maila Ager INQUIRER.net MANILA, Philippines--"That's his karma." This was how lawyer Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III described the controversy hounding Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos regarding the allegedly anomalous national broadband network project. According to dictionary.com, karma is "the action, seen as bringing upon oneself inevitable results, good or bad, either in this life or in a reincarnation." Pimentel, who lost his senatorial bid in the last May elections, used a forum in Quezon City to ventilate his sentiments against Abalos, who he claimed had "masterminded" the alleged cheating in the elections last May. He said the NBN contract between the government and the ZTE Corp. was one of the continuing "injustices" that the country has been facing under this present administration. "Ang dami pa ring injustices hindi lamang sa aspeto ng human rights, pati na rin sa [There have been a lot injustices not only in the aspect of human rights but also in the [stealing the people's mandate and the latest one is the ZTE involving the same person, who maneuvered, masterminded the stealing of an election, is the same person now involved in this anomalous ZTE contract," Pimentel said, referring to Abalos. "So good for him [Abalos]. So that's his karma. Nobody believes him kahit anong gawin niyang paliwanag [no matter what explanation he gives]," he said. In the House of Representatives, Akbayan Representative Risa Hontiveros pressed for the filing of an impeachment complaint against Abalos following a detailed testimony by Jose "Joey " De Venecia III in the Senate regarding the chairman's role in the NBN fiasco. De Venecia is the son of Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr. and a major shareholder of the Amsterdam Holdings Inc, one of the proponents of the NBN project. Hontiveros said De Venecia's sworn statement was enough to impeach Abalos. "The statement, which was given under oath, would make Comelec Chairman Abalos accountable for violating the Anti-Graft and Corruption law and betrayal of public trust," she said in a statement. "At the very least, the minority should meet and discuss whether the testimony is enough to impeach Abalos. Since Iloilo Vice Governor Rolex Suplico has not filed his complaint yet, the minority might tackle the possibility of linking up with Jose de Venecia III about the matter," she pointed out. Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro Casiño and Gabriela Women's Partylist Representative Liza Maza were no longer surprised by the younger De Venecia's mention of First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo and his supposed role in the deal. "If First Gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo is the mystery man, it doesn't take too much to conclude who the mystery woman is. Above all, she could be held accountable in the NBN-ZTE deal," Casiño said, referring to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Manila Representative Bienvenido Abante, an administration ally, joined calls for the First Gentleman to address the issue confronting him. "I think, I've been always supportive of the administration but this time, I hope he [Mr. Arroyo] will address the allegation against him," Abante said. But Cebu Representative Pablo Garcia, also an administration ally, said the President's husband could choose not to appear in a congressional inquiry since the Constitution provided that only a judge could issue a warrant of arrest or compel a person to participate in the hearing. Unlike Abante, Garcia was more interested in what the Speaker has to say about his son's exposÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â©. "He [the Speaker] should not keep quiet. The people also expect to hear something from him," he said. The Cebu lawmaker would not say however how this latest exposÃƒÆ'Ã‚Â© against Mr. Arroyo would affect the political alignment in the House.
By Jerome Aning Inquirer MANILA, Philippines--The Commission on Elections on Saturday scored the lawyer of former Maguindanao election supervisor Lintang Bedol for saying that the latter's camp expected the poll body to uphold its earlier decision to convict Bedol for contempt. Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said Bedol's lawyer Andrei Tagum showed his contempt for the Comelec after he admitted that Bedol was "half-expecting" the Comelec to junk his motion for reconsideration. "If we go by the history of the commission, I don't think they have ever reversed their decision because that would be an admission that they erred," Tagum was quoted as saying in media reports. Tagum said Bedol would ask the Supreme Court to overturn the Comelec's decision. Jimenez explained that when a quasi-judicial body such as the Comelec declines to reverse its decision on a motion for reconsideration, "it is because the arguments in the motion do not justify reversal, or because the motion failed to present any new arguments, that is, different from -- or perhaps better than -- those that led to the original adverse decision." "It strikes me as being extremely arrogant for defeated lawyers to claim that the tribunal before which they are arguing is composed of petty men who would rather perpetuate an injustice than to admit their error," he added. Comelec meted on Bedol a six-month jail term and a fine of P1,000 after he was found guilty of four counts of indirect contempt. The case stemmed from his failure to attend the scheduled canvassing of Maguindanao votes and the hearing of Task Force Maguindanao which looked into alleged poll cheating in the province, as well as his unlawful assumption of custody of poll documents which he eventually lost, his challenge to the Comelec to sue him for his absences, and for boasting to media that he had a cache of firearms.
FILIPINOS are entitled to one vote each. It represents the heart and soul of a person who is longing that his voice will be heard, though faint in the millions of votes. Shave a vote and you kill entirely that faint voice and literally, the essence of that person's right to suffrage. The Philippines, Mindanao in particular, has become a graveyard of honest election watchers, teachers and volunteers. It has also become a stinking place of dishonest government appointees like Lintang Bedol. Justice, strike where you need to strike and I will be there to believe in your name. Justice, hear the last breath of heroes that died looking for you. -- Rynor Jamandre, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig (via e-mail)