Monday, May 31, 2010

The Unseen Web of Manipulations

by Erick San Juan

The May 10 automated election system was far greater in every aspect than Garci scandal. Everybody was stunned after several hours following the huge turnout of votes being transmitted to the different official servers. And up to this day, unanswered questions are still in the minds of those who felt that they were taken for a ride and left in a daze including the people who are supposed to be movers of this AES. Usual investigations are now going on in the halls of Congress as whistleblowers surfaced especially the controversial “Robin” a.k.a “Koala Bear”.

Actually, there’s more to this AES than meets the eye as more and more complaints are being presented. IT (information technology) experts are being tapped in the hope of understanding the very technical world of computers. Such technicalities entangled all of us in the unseen web of manipulations that left all of us in the dark. This is one automated scam that was carried by a network of schemers here and abroad that made it complicated even to those who are learned and much more difficult to the ordinary Juan dela Cruz.

Some sectors of society are actually pointing their fingers at the CIA which they easily thought can pull out a scheme as what happened in the previous elections. I disagree with them. Such scheme could not be carried out without conniving with the local political oligarchs and economic corporats. Such network was established before the elections and methinks that this set up goes beyond the CIA and far beyond the election issue.

Whether we like it or not, our present situation is like a dying body where vultures hovering above us and just waiting for the right moment to dive in. This is the dilemma we are all in and only the future administration (with the meddling of the present government) can actually decide if they will give in to the dictates of the so called “foreign investors”. Just recently, in the news, the Palace welcomed the European Union as part of the International Monitoring team that will help in the peace process in Mindanao. Added to this was the “friendly visit” of the new US Ambassador – Harry Thomas at Times Street’s residence of incoming President Noynoy where rumor mills are buzzed with all kinds of speculation.

As a keen observer of events, a lot of undercurrents are happening in the wake of the BP-Deep water Horizon catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion of the Deep water Horizon oil rig and the resulting oil super spill in the Gulf of Mexico is the worst man-made disaster, and the largest and most heinous act of environmental destruction in history. Translation – the shifting of the Anglo-American search for other sources of more gas, oil and maybe deuterium (G.O.D.) that makes us the next target.

The signs are obvious and quite real to be taken for granted. The saddest unavoidable part is the possible balkanization of Mindanao and the whole nation in the process.

The unseen web of manipulations that may lead to the destruction of our country is at hand and we must always be on the lookout for those who will make this possible for their own benefit. Our new leadership should have the political will to get what’s due us. God help us all.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The new fads – the blame game and the name game

by William M. Esposo
from The Philippine Star

Your Chair Wrecker was calling to task the Comelec (Commission on Elections) for the way the automation process of the May 10 elections was conducted when almost everybody was hailing the poll body for the speedy reporting of the election results.

Thus, if anyone should be angrily denouncing the Comelec for the many complaints which are now sprouting all over the place — it should be your Chair Wrecker. But that is not happening because all of these complaints being leveled against the Comelec are coming from suspicious sources and the complaints are not supported by hard evidence.

The explanations of the poll body and the PPCRV (Philippine Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting) to the various complaints and charges of poll irregularities — that these appear more to be discrepancies and not cases of deliberate electoral fraud — are credible. At the very least, the results of the national elections are consistent with pre-election surveys as well as exit polls.

Except for the incredible revelations of “Robin” the whistleblower, who was also dubbed as “Koala Clown” because of his mask, the bulk of the complaints came from losers in local contests. Comelec spokesman James Jimenez ably tore to shreds the claims of “Robin” the so-called whistleblower. The dubious whistleblower’s claim that soon-to-be proclaimed vice president, Jojo Binay, enlisted the services of their cheating syndicate establishes a motive — to discredit Binay’s victory.

Had Jamby Madrigal or Nick Perlas or JC de los Reyes won the presidential election — then we should be alarmed about the automated results of the elections. Had Perfecto Yasay won the vice presidential election — then we should also be alarmed about the results of the vice presidential elections. But the fact is there were no surprises in the results of the presidential, vice presidential and even senatorial races.

Indeed, in many of the local elections where there are claims of election fraud, the outcomes were also consistent with pre-election surveys. For instance, in Manila, the surveys showed that Fred Lim was the frontrunner by a very wide margin. It was the same situation in the Makati City mayoral and congressional elections. The results were consistent with the credible surveys.

As we know from past experience, many politicians here possess this character flaw of never admitting defeat and will always tend to claim that they were cheated. Quite pathetic are those losers of the presidential and vice presidential races who now cling to the illusion that they chalked much better numbers than the ones they got.

The last person who should also be displaying temper tantrums in the House Hearing on these alleged election fraud cases is outgoing Makati Representative Teddyboy Locsin. Where does Locsin take off after guaranteeing to the nation that all is well in the automation process, even when the alarms were being raised by credible IT experts like Gus Lagman?
Locsin was quick to dismiss these apprehensions and concerns over the Smartmatic system and in one ANC program even belittled these so-called ‘alarmists’ as people who do not know anything. Don’t you think it is the Filipino people who ought to be throwing a temper tantrum directed at Locsin for all his guarantees about the Smartmatic system?

A friend, an astute political watcher, made a valid observation about that House hearing on claimed automation fraud chaired by Locsin. It is this point — Locsin is himself an election loser just like those who were raising charges of election fraud. Locsin’s wife lost the congressional election in Makati City while Mar Roxas, the vice presidential candidate Locsin endorsed, also lost to Jojo Binay. Could this House hearing be an investigation in aid of attempts to reverse election losses?

The other fad in town is the name game — specifically the attempts to influence the selection of the Noynoy Aquino cabinet. Cellular phone text messages and intrigues being circulated on the internet as well as mass media are clear attempts to discredit perceived candidates for key posts. There are also attempts to place in a bad light certain groups who may have an inside track to the positions which will soon be filled in the incoming Aquino administration.

My good friend Conrad de Quiros wrote a series of columns recently about the groups which gravitate around Mar Roxas. Conrad wrote that behind the publicity is a group which purports to be “genuine reformists” — versus the group which they’ve labeled as “Kamaganak, Inc.”

Two things were indeed very wrong about the positioning. One is that the members of the group attempting to portray themselves as “genuine reformers” are nothing but opportunists hiding under that nice sounding label. Two is that “The Kamaganak, Inc” is a negative tag they conveniently associated with those who can block their attempts to corner the key positions in the Aquino cabinet.

One of the most coveted posts in any administration is that of the Executive Secretary, also known as the Little President. The so-called “genuine reformers” (genuine assholes would be more like it) had set their sights on capturing the post of Executive Secretary but they realized that Noynoy Aquino is much smarter than they thought him to be and had chosen a very close friend for the post.

Unfortunately, we cannot pre-empt Noynoy Aquino in announcing his chosen Executive Secretary. But rest assured that the person is very capable and this person’s father was a very close friend of Ninoy, Noynoy’s father. This person is considered a citizen above suspicion.

The composition of the Search Team, as your Chair Wrecker was informed by a very reliable source, ensured that there will be opportunities for all sectors to be heard and be able to recommend qualified persons for the many positions to be filled. Clearly, Noynoy ensured that no group shall dominate the Search Process.

It is healthy to discuss the fitness of certain candidates for the appointive public offices they are being considered. But this should be conducted objectively, without malice and for the sole purpose of forming the best possible Noynoy Aquino cabinet.

* * *

Chair Wrecker e-mail and website

An open letter to Noynoy

by F Sionil Jose
from The Philippine Star

Dear Noynoy,

You are now swamped with suggestions and advice, but just the same, I hope you’ll have time to read what this octogenarian has to say.

You were not my choice in the last election but since our people have spoken, we must now support you and pray that you prevail. But first, I must remind you of the stern reality that your drumbeaters ignore: you have no noble legacy from your forbears. It is now your arduous job to create one yourself in the six years that you will be the single most powerful Filipino. Six years is too short a time — the experience in our part of the world is that it takes at least one generation — 25 years — for a sick nation to recover and prosper. But you can begin that happy process of healing.

Bear in mind that the past weighs heavily on all of us because of the many contradictions in it that we have not resolved, whose resolutions would strengthen us as a nation. This past is now your burden, too. Let us start with the fact that your grandfather collaborated with the Japanese. Your father was deeply aware of this, its stigma, its possibilities. He did not leave any legacy because he did not become president. He was a brilliant and courageous politician. He was an enterprising journalist; he had friends in journalism who can attest to his effulgent vision, who did not profit from his friendship, among them Nestor Mata, Gregorio Brillantes — you may consult them. I cannot say I did not profit — he bought many books from my shop and when he was in Marcos’s prison, your mother brought books from my shop to him.

Forgive me for giving you this unsolicited advice. First, beware of hubris; you are surrounded by panderers who will tell you what is nice to hear. You need to be humble always and heed your conscience. When Caesar was paraded in ancient Rome before the cheering multitudes, there was always a man chanting behind him: “Remember, you are mortal.”

I say to you, remember, the poor — some of them in your own hacienda — will be your ultimate judge.

From your comfortable and privileged cocoon, you know so little of our country and people. Seek the help of the best — and the best do not normally want to work in government and neither will they approach you. You have to seek them.

Be the revolutionary your father wanted to be and don’t be scared or wary of the word “revolution.” It need not be always bloody. EDSA I was not. Your father wanted to destroy the most formidable obstacle to our progress — the Oligarchy to which you and your family belong. To succeed, you have to betray your class. If you cannot smash the oligarchy, at least strive to have their wealth develop this country, that they bring back the billions they stashed abroad. You cannot do this in six years, but you can begin.

Prosecute the crooks. It is difficult, thankless and even dangerous to do this. Your mother did not do it — she did not jail Imelda who was the partner in that conjugal dictatorship that plundered this nation. Watch her children — they were much too young to have participated in that looting but they are heirs to the billions which their parents stashed abroad. Now the Marcoses are on the high road to power, gloating, snickering at our credulity and despicable amnesia.

You know the biggest crooks in and out of government, those powerful smugglers, thieves, tax cheats — all you really need is guts to clobber them. Your father had lots of it — I hope he passed on to you most of it.

And most of all, now that you have the muscle to do it, go after your father’s killers. Blood and duty compel you to do so. Cory was only his wife — you are the anointed and only son. Your regime will be measured by how you resolve this most blatant crime that robbed us of a true leader.

And, finally, your mother. We loved her — she united us in ousting an abominable dictator. But she, too, did not leave a shining legacy for her presidency was a disaster. She announced a revolutionary government but did nothing revolutionary. She promised land reform but did not do it. And most grievous of all — she transformed the EDSA I revolution into a restoration of the oligarchy.

She became president only because her husband was murdered and you became president elect only because your mother died. Still, you are your father’s son and may you now — for the good of this country and people — scale the heights he and your mother never reached.

I am 85 and how I despair over how three generations of our leaders failed! Before I go, please let me see this unhappy country begin to be a much better place than the garbage dump our leaders and people have made it. You can be this long awaited messiah but only if you are brave enough and wise enough to redeem your father’s aborted promise.

Hopefully yours,

F. Sionil Jose

Saturday, May 29, 2010

:-D LOL: Noynoy-Nognog and other election funnies

Human Face
by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo
from Philippine Daily Inquirer

FILIPINOS ARE KNOWN TO ALWAYS FIND AND create humor even during the bleakest of times, poke fun at the serious, ridicule the sublime and the ridiculous, make jokes and puns out of serious situations and at the expense of persons. Once again the recent elections and the moist-eyed candidates (and their campaign ads) became fair game for the jokesters, punsters and hecklers, and so far, no one with a victim complex has filed a libel complaint or damages for psychological cruelty or intense embarrassment that caused sleepless nights and agoraphobia. As they say, ang pikon, talo (the easily piqued is a loser).
Blogs, social networking groups (Facebook, etc.) and e-groups had a heyday circulating the jokes, some of them merciless. Jokes can work for or against their target victims. Former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada decided to use many of these on his own person as a reverse tack when he ran for president in 1998 and got away with a best-selling “Eraptions.” When he later got convicted for plunder, the joke was on him, literally.
I’ve had a great time reading and listening to the 2010 election jokes and laughing out loud (that’s what LOL stands for) even by myself. Even the hard-nosed Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) came out with a serious well-researched piece on this Filipino preoccupation. It’s titled “Joke the vote, pun the bets” by PCIJ interns Camille de Asis, Ivan Lim, Mark Tare and Angela Poe. The writers provided in-depth analysis and context.
The piece begins: “Barring last-minute surprises in the election count, the Noynoy-Nognog tandem will lead the next casting at Malacañang Palace in the next six years, according to funny-boned Filipinos.

“Nognog, dark-skinned Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay in real life, will also be installed as the country’s “first black vice president,” they say.

“But before he could become president, Noynoy, who goes by the full name Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, may need to convince closest rival Joseph Estrada to concede.

“Estrada can’t and won’t, supposedly because when he voted, his victory had been guaranteed. Proof of this, and so the tale is told, was that after Estrada fed his ballot into a PCOS machine, it popped this message: ’Congratulations!’”

Filipinos have a penchant for making serious matter a laughing matter. Jokes are considered to be the Filipinos’ safety valve. They are a great social leveler, especially when they target the high and the mighty. Political satire is not the exclusive domain of intellectuals. Making sense of politics is not the sole domain of people who fancy themselves political analysts. Why, taxi drivers also do just as well.

And so in street corners, watering holes and beauty parlors where political talk abounds, jokes cannot be far behind. And when comedians, comediennes and impersonators such as Willie Nepomuceno, Jon Santos and Mae Paner (as Juana Change) deliver their spiels, we laugh out loud because we recognize our desire to deride those we despise and laugh them out of the room and out of our lives.

Enough of the serious talk about jokes or we run out of space. A good site to visit is the blog ( looks at “Philippine cinema and other spectacles” and where one could find many side-splitting jokes (some disguised as awards) about politicians. Images and comments are included. Samples:

Agawan ng Pangalan Award: PACYAW (Pilipino Association for Country—Urban Poor Youth Advancement and Welfare), which may be confused with Manny Pacquiao’s PBA Partylist, you know?

Agawan ng Kulay Award: Manny Villar and Erap Estrada, for sharing the same prison orange color.

Agawan ng Mukha Award: Bongbong Marcos, for managing to look like both Jamby Madrigal (in his Netopia wallpaper ads) and Fanny Serrano (in his campaign posters). How queer!

Honorable Mention: Lito Lapid, for thinking that people will vote for him if he looked like Erap. Liza Maza, for looking like Lord of Scents Joel Cruz.

Best Tagline (standard bearer): Erap Estrada— “Kung may Erap, may ginhawa.” Witty wordplay!

Worst Tagline (standard bearer): Bayani Fernando—“Lalakeng kausap.” Chauvinist pig.

Best Tagline (senator): Imelda Papin—“Tinig ng bawat Pilipino sa senado.” And what a tinig it is! Jukebox queen!

Worst Tagline (senator): Juan Ponce Enrile—“Gusto ko happy ka.” Ano ho?
Honorable Mention: Franklin Drilon—“Big Justice.” A great spin on Drilon’s obesity. But it’s obesity nonetheless.

Worst Tagline (partylist): PBA Partylist—“Sports lang, you know!” No, I don’t know!
Honorable Mention: ABROAD Partylist—“Work abroad, pay later.” Easier to export Filipino labor this way!

Most Misplaced Tagline: Bayani Fernando— “Lalakeng kausap.” Should have been Jamby Madrigal’s.
Honorable Mention: Risa Hontiveros—“Magandang Laban.” Should have been Adel Tamano’s, kasi mas maganda si Adel.
Most Awkward Postering Strategy: Buhay Partylist, for prominently posting campaign materials beside motels like Sogo and Eurotel. Siguro mga sanggol nga talaga ang represented sector nila, at saan pa nga ba ginagawa ang mga sanggol? Remember Bitoy’s version of Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back to Me Now”? The birit climax goes: “Sanggol, sanggol…”

This just came via an e-group: Binay is wrong to feel proud about being the first black vice president of the Philippines. “The first black vice president was Carlos P. Garcia. When Magsaysay died, he became the first black president. Binay should aim for another record.” And “Mar Roxas has a hard time catching up with Binay. Mar has been using the padyak (pedicab) and tricycle which have been overused in his political ads. He should take the jeep and he might catch up with Binay.”

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Theres The Rub
by Conrado de Quiros
from Philippine Daily Inquirer

AFTER JOHN MCCAIN CONCEDED TO Barack Obama, Obama went out to a cheering and tearful crowd—the tears, courtesy of Jesse Jackson and Oprah Winfrey—and began: “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.”

After Manny Villar, Gibo Teodoro and Richard Gordon conceded to Noynoy Aquino, Noynoy went out to a grasping and grieving crowd—the first, courtesy of the “trapos” and the second, of the mourners of the dead (it was a wake he went to)—and began, “I believe Mar Roxas will win over Jojo Binay by a hairline.”

Unless he does things a little differently, and soon, Noynoy might end up as the Philippine version of the Dubya David Letterman used to satirize in his show. Particularly the part where he shows FDR saying, “There is nothing to fear but fear itself,” JFK saying, “Ask not what your country can do for you,” and George W. saying, “Aah, I think when my father-in-law visited….”

What exactly is wrong about Noynoy’s proposition, apart from it being a fall from the sublime to the paralytic?

One, he really shouldn’t be drawing attention to hairlines, other than in a facetious and self-mocking tone. Which alone shows that couldn’t have been his choice of words.

Two, it’s plain unfair. At the very least it’s graceless. On one side, there’s the leading candidate in the vice-presidential count, Jojo Binay, making all sorts of overtures, vowing loyalty and cooperation once he is proclaimed winner, and on the other there’s the victorious candidate in the presidential race repeatedly scorning it, suggesting by way of subtext, “No way you can be my vice president.” It’s a gratuitous insult, or provocation, to someone who was loyal to Cory (he spoke at her necrological rites, a thing he could not have done had one family member objected to it) and never did anything to harm her own.

At the very most it flies in the face of reality. All the tallies, official and unofficial, all the exit polls, reputable and disreputable, say Binay is winning by close to a million votes. Only the Liberal Party’s count says otherwise, based on returns so secret only they know about it. Their suggestion is that Binay is winning only either by trending or cheating, a suggestion refuted by the simple question, “How?” How can Binay be in a position to trend or cheat? He’s not exactly a dear friend of Gloria or Ronnie or Norberto. Ask them who is.

All Noynoy has to say as president-elect is: “Let us wait for the results. The people’s voice is the only voice I’ll listen to.” You can’t understand why he does not.

Three, it compromises him. What happens if Binay is proclaimed the winner of the vice presidential elections as he looks headed to be? And what happens if Mar Roxas’s camp cries foul, or that they were cheated, as they look headed to do? That will put him in a bind.

Is he going to say he will refuse to be sworn in beside the new vice president just as he said he would refuse to be sworn in before the new chief justice? That is piling one controversy on top of another, and he hasn’t even begun. At least in the case of Renato Corona, he can always find a principle to support his stand. In this case, what principle is there? The elections were completely credible except the vice presidential one? Everyone was perfectly above board except Binay? It’s inflicting unnecessary pain on oneself, going out on a limb for a group of people who never went out on a limb for him. Indeed, who nearly cost him his campaign but for luck and (last-minute) pluck.

Or is he going to mount an Edsa and storm the ramparts of tyranny for the very people who never believed in Edsa and storming the ramparts of tyranny?

And last, it is a fall from the sublime to the paralytic. Of course Noynoy has his own personality and prefers a more folksy style to the soaring rhetoric of Obama. Which I like by the way, it suits him perfectly, he communicates best when he is telling a story, even if he gets carried away sometimes. But it is one thing to be down-to-earth, it is another to be stuck in the mud.

He doesn’t have to plagiarize Obama, though that seems to be in vogue these days (plagiarizing, though not of Obama, only of Oprah), but he can always share his sentiments. His road has been long and arduous too. His campaign has been heroic and epoch-making too. His victory has been nothing short of miraculous too, two improbable candidates with two improbable names accomplishing it.

Noynoy could have said: “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that a people’s resolve can make anything possible, who still wonders if the Impossible Dream of our forebears is still alive in our time, who still questions the power of People Power, today is your answer.”

One can understand that Noynoy is still staring at the astounding reality of being president with disbelief. Only a year ago, he was, like Simba, carousing with friends and singing “Hakuna, Matata,” it’s a worry-free philosophy, only to be thrust with the death of his mother into the maelstrom of his destiny. He is the Lion King now, but unlike the Lion King, who first had to vanquish his mortal enemy Scar, the archfiend who kept pretending to be his “archfriend” (and “archguide”), to become so, Noynoy will have to fight his Scar now that he is so. That is the only way he can truly become lion. That is the only way he can truly become king.

He will have to have the scars to prove it.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The marketing aspect of the 2010 campaign

by William M. Esposo
from The Philippine Star

The advent of the John F. Kennedy administration in the United States in 1960 marked the rise of marketing professionals in the world of political campaign organizations. Since the 1960 US presidential campaign, the world recognized the vital role that marketing pros played in political campaign organizations.

The loser of the 1960 US presidential campaign — Richard M. Nixon — was repackaged by marketing pros for the 1968 US presidential elections. This marketing success story of “The new improved Nixon” was the subject of the book by Joe McGinniss titled The Selling of the President.

One of the most interesting points raised by McGinniss in his book was the potency of impression over reason, the soft sell versus the hard sell. The McGinniss thesis was that the rational approach tends to divide the audience into those who will agree and disagree with the proposition. Those who will not agree will likely not vote for the candidate. Those who will agree are also not sure whether they’ll vote for the candidate because there could be other more important considerations.

On the other hand, impression does not assault the target audience. It seduces instead. Impression does not compel the target audience to think, to agree or to disagree. Rather, it is like a soft comfortable mist that simply surrounds the target audience, makes the person feel good and retain a favorable recollection of the candidate.

It was from marketing jargon that the terms position and reposition were derived. When a candidate positions himself, he perches his persona or image on something wholesome and favorable. This enhances salability. When a candidate attempts to reposition his opponent, it is to remove him from his positioning and tag him to something unfavorable. This removes votes from the tagged opponent.

In the just concluded May 10, 2010 elections, the fingerprints of marketing hands were very evident in the many mass communication materials which were all over mass media. Presidential, Vice Presidential and Senatorial candidates were marketed no different from toothpaste, beer, cellular phones and so forth.

As predicted by your Chair Wrecker, soon-to-be President Elect Noynoy Aquino proved to be the dominant brand of the 2010 presidential election. Aquino surged ahead and was never overtaken. The closest his then nearest rival — Senator Manny Villar — ever got was two percentage points behind. Noynoy was like the NBA defending champs LA Lakers, the Colgate toothpaste brand and the San Miguel Beer brand.

My late brother Dicky, an Ateneo classmate of Butch Abad of the Liberal Party, was a horse racing aficionado. It came as no surprise that Dicky died from a heart attack on April 18, 2001 while deliberating on a daily double combination at the Wednesday horse races. In horse racing parlance, Noynoy Aquino would be considered the overwhelming llamado or the outstanding favorite that would have paid perhaps a mere P1.20 for a P1.00 bet.

Quite the opposite of the llamado which Noynoy Aquino turned out to be in the presidential race — Makati Mayor Jojo Binay turned out to be the big dejado or least favored in the vice presidential race. By now, there is little doubt that Jojo Binay won the vice presidential race with just under 500,000 votes unaccounted for and many of these are from Lanao where Binay is considered strong. If the vice presidential contest was a horse race, Binay would have been the P100 to P1 dejado who won.

Binay came from being a poor third in December 2009 to overtake the second placer by April 2010 and then lead the first placer Mar Roxas by 0.2% per the SWS (Social Weather Stations) May 2 – 3 nationwide survey. The upward momentum carried Binay to victory.

Few people knew that Binay’s victory was the result of a two-step marketing strategy. Unlike other candidates who tend to focus their fire on the top candidate, Binay first set his sights on then second placer, Senator Loren Legarda, and paid little attention to Mar Roxas. It’s hard for a third placer to challenge the top market leader. The brands below the market leader are more vulnerable. Binay first dislodged Legarda.

After Binay overtook Legarda, the equation shifted to a choice between Roxas and Binay. And because Binay had a dramatic surge, people now saw the vice presidential race in a different light. Binay’s values as a candidate were seen in a more favorable light — his impressive track record in Makati City, his having emerged from the ranks of the poor, his being a Yellow Army Long Marcher and his consistent opposition to the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime.

Binay showed that he had a superior ground organization, an area where the Liberal Party was weak. Binay won in 14 out of the 17 regions in the country. It was one of the most dramatic come-from-behind victories in Philippine national elections but it only became possible because Binay adopted an effective two-step marketing strategy.

While Jojo Binay was the perfect example of a good marketing strategy that was superbly executed, other candidates became the showcases of basically good marketing strategies that were bungled in planning and execution. As an act of Christian charity, we shall no longer delve into the details of these political Waterloos.

Chair Wrecker email and website: and

“Hello, Koala Boy”

Balitang Kutsero
by Perry Diaz

Former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada dropped a bombshell with allegations that he was cheated in the May 10 presidential elections. He claimed that five million votes were shaved from his count during a “hocus PCOS” operation with the Precinct Count Optical Scanner (PCOS) machines.

A few days later, a masked man named “Robin” — looking like a “koala bear” — came out of nowhere and spilled his guts to a reporter about the automated “dagdag-bawas” (add-subtract) cheating operation involving a “cheating syndicate” consisting of 12 people including himself. When asked why he was coming out with his exposé, Robin said that he was doing it because his group didn’t get paid. When asked how much his group was owed, he said, “P1.4 billion.” Holy shit! That’s a lot a moolah! I’d be mad myself too! And since Robin’s group can’t take the votes back (ha ha ha…), they decided to derail the whole election process.

Robin said that they first approached Manny Villar and offered him P20 per vote. He said that Villar tried to haggle the price down to P5 per vote. Robin’s group rejected Villar’s counter-offer and they called Villar, “kuripot” (miser). That certainly is not nice to say to a man who’s net worth is P940 billion.

Robin then approached Erap’s vice presidential running mate Jejomar “Jojo” Binay — why not Erap? — and made him the same offer. He said that Jojo agreed to P20 per vote without batting an eye. Since it’s a package deal — they’ll give the same number of votes to the presidential candidate of his choice. Jojo chose Noynoy Aquino. Huh?

Now, I can see why Erap is ready to erupt! Like Julius Caesar said as he gasped his last breath, “Et tu Brutus?”


But my investigative reporter, James Macaquecquec, has a different story. James said that he was able to get an exclusive interview with Robin, the “Koala Boy,” who told him the true story behind the automated “dagdag-bawas” cheating operation. It goes:

James: Salamat, Robin for allowing me to interview you.

Robin: I’m granting you this exclusive interview because I want to tell the Pinoys in America and Canada the true story about the automated “dagdag-bawas” cheating operation during the May 10 elections.

James: Very good. You know the Pinoys in America and Canada are very much involved in the May 10 elections and they want to know exactly what happened. First of all, why did you choose “Robin” as your codename?

Robin: Our group of 12 men and women is known as the “Robbing Hoods” in government circles. We all use the codename “Robin” with a numerical suffix according to rank. Since I’m the head honcho of the “Robbing Hoods,” my codename is “Robin One.”

James: Are all the “Robbing Hoods” government employees?

Robin: Yes, as a matter of fact, we occupy some of the highest positions in the government.

James: No kidding! Okay, let’s hear your story then, Robin One.

Robin: The operation is called “Operation Talanka.” The plan was to electronically cheat in the elections to make Erap Estrada win the presidency and Jojo Binay the vice presidency.

James: “Talanka” means “crab.” Hmmm… But why Erap???

Robin: You see, if Erap is elected president, we will petition the Supreme Court to disqualify Erap because he’s a convicted plunderer. We will have a strong case and with the high court stacked up with Gloria’s stooges including the Midnight Chief Justice, Erap doesn’t have a chance of being proclaimed president. No way!

James: Oh, my God! And who would be proclaimed if Erap was disqualified?

Robin: Well, “Operation Talanka” calls for Manny Villar to be in second place behind Erap, therefore he’d be proclaimed president once Erap is disqualified.

James: But Villar placed third behind Noynoy and Erap? Unless Noynoy and Erap are disqualified, Villar doesn’t have a chance of being proclaimed?

Robin: You’re right. That’s why we have a very big problem. The automated “dagdag-bawas” program that we put in place forgot to shave five million votes from Noynoy’s count and add them to Erap’s count. Noynoy won by a landslide… and without cheating.

James: Whoa! Whoa! Didn’t you test the automated “dagdag-bawas” program before installing it? That’s dumb!

Robin: Yes, we tested it. But we discovered that one of our members, Robin 12, was linked to an ally of Noynoy who secretly paid our programmer a large amount of moolah to disable the automated “dagdag-bawas” program. But there was a glitch. The stupid programmer forgot to remove the program that shaves votes from Roxas’s count and add them to Binay‘s count. And that’s why Binay won.

James: There’s always a Judas in every group, huh? So what are you going to do now?

Robin: Well, I’m going to call my old pal Garci and ask him if he could fix the problem.

James: Wait a minute! I recognize your voice from the “Hello, Garci” tapes! You sounded like a man but you’re actually a woman. You’re … (James suddenly grabbed Robin’s mask and removed it!)Gloria! Walang hiya ka! Si Gloria ka pala!


Eraption Dyok… One of my readers commented: “Erap will never concede to Noynoy. According to him, he is very, very sure that he is the winner in May 10, 2010 elections, because the PCOS machine said “Congratulations” to him.”

News Item… “Kris to leave TV shows in deference to brother and president-apparent Noynoy.” Yup, she’ll take a new role as “Da First Lady.” Noynoy’s girlfriend Shalani Soledad has to settle for “First Lady-in-waiting” for now. Watch for the looming “Battle of the Bosses.”

Supreme Error… Chief Justice Renato Corona told Noynoy, “The Supreme Court is not your enemy.” Of course not, Noynoy just didn’t like a midnight appointee sitting on the CJ’s chair.

One last fight… Newly elected Tongressman Dr. Master Sgt. Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao’s mom, Aling Dionisia, gave her blessing for Pacman to go for one last fight. Yup, she needed a billion pesos to maintain her new role as “Doña Dionisia,” the matriarch of the Paquiao dynasty.


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Destiny And Ambition

by Jose Ma. L. Montelibano

When the chips are down, the character of a person is sorely tested. At the worst of moments, a person’s weaknesses are seriously provoked to manifest. Dr. Jekyl the scientist can become Mr. Hyde the monster.

Philippine elections are like pressure cookers. Because of a past history of violence, many candidates are encouraged by their peers in civil society to enter in pacts of peace. The more adventurous enter into agreements where they promise to keep their campaigns on a high note. A few do manage to keep their word, but most simply do not. If they themselves do not utter dirty language, their subalterns do, or their paid black propagandists.

The recent presidential elections are a classic example of how much black propaganda has now become a standard campaign tool. But I guess it had to nowhere to go but that direction anyway as open campaign pitches have turned quite deceptive if not downright dishonest. The Internet has created a parallel communications dimension, a super active, 24/7 field that produced the best and the worst as well. Politics in the Philippines will never be the same again.

The cry of the people was change, the color of the people was yellow, and the choice of the people was Noynoy. Many accepted the fact that Cory’s dramatic passing away catapulted Noynoy into national consciousness and demand. Yet, many forgot along the way, from August 2009 to May 2010, that the foundation of the campaign was Cory as much as Noynoy. It was love, respect or admiration for Cory that kept the candidacy of Noynoy solid at 37% when his enemies had thrown every dirty trick his direction.

When in August of last year I started to write my views about Noynoy and a possible destiny, my conviction simply grew thereafter. From an assumption of that destiny, I viewed the political dynamics of the campaign and saw more clearly by the day that destiny was the propellant, that its color was yellow, its cry was change, and its protector was Cory. I knew, too, that a few others thought the same way, planned their work and efforts with that in mind, and hit the jackpot because of it.

When I summarized the whole campaign, I understood it first as a historical replay. I wrote my thoughts in my last two articles, but I skirted from publicly sharing a key feature of what I saw. Historical replays alert us to strategic factors of the past and the present, factors that guide our views and operations. There have been equivalents, like a despised Marcos finding a present counterpart in Gloria Arroyo, like martial law then and translated to corruption today, and a restive military force that believed it would not follow illegal orders if their superiors would give them.

One key element, though, was the political compromise that Cory and Doy Laurel entered into. It was a partnership of destiny and ambition, the uneasy relationship of oil and water. Marcos said that Cory knew nothing, and guess what Noynoy’s enemies said. Cory wrested what Marcos tried to steal, the will of the people, and governed as written in the stars.

Cory took Doy with her then. When Marcos fled, his vice-president tried a pathetic and failed people power rerun at the Manila Hotel. Cory stayed president despite radical and determined attempts to remove her by force. In some of those attempts, there were serious doubts about the loyalty of her vice-president, whether he was cheering for her or for her enemies. A historical replay of this scenario would be hell on earth for Noynoy, and it appears that fate is intervening.

If there is such a historical replay, who would have been the equivalent of Doy Laurel? If there is indeed a Cory in the heavens being allowed to orchestrate the ascendancy of her son, would she intervene with the vice-presidency, too?

Jojo Binay is the new vice-president if it is a matter of just counting the election returns being sent to Comelec and PPCRV. Unless massive fraud can be proved against an opposition candidate whom Gloria tried so hard to eliminate as the mayor of a city which always gave rally permits for opposition forces, Binay will win. Is Binay, then, Cory’s choice as well?

As someone who experienced the traumatic period of coup de etats and knew a small, dark Cory loyalist who earned the nickname “Rambo-tito” with his UZI-toting ways, I never doubted that the same loyalty will be given to Cory’s son. After all, he never withdrew that loyalty to Cory all those years and to her family as well. At one point in time, when I was about to make a very important decision regarding my path for the campaign, I simply asked myself two very simple questions.

The first was, “Which Vice-Presidential candidate would take a bullet for Noynoy?”

The second question was, “Which Vice-Presidential candidate would take a bullet for Noynoy even if it meant giving up the chance to succeed him?”

Among the choices available for vice-president for a Noynoy presidency that seemed inevitable to me from August 2009, I could only come up with one name to the two questions – Jojo Binay. I did not have to think long and hard, I only had to surrender to an answer that came very quickly from the gut and from the heart. Jojo Binay was not Noynoy’s choice for the vice-presidency, but Noynoy himself never thought of himself as the next president of the republic.

The lesson for me is as simple as the light of day. The presidency is about destiny more than ambition. It does not mean that ambition does not play a role, but destiny is the primary force. And those who have the ambition to be president of the Philippines, it would be wise to read the writings on the wall, especially the one that says, “Never confuse destiny and ambition. They can be partners, but one is more equal than the other.”


“There is always a philosophy for lack of courage.” Albert Camus

Money Laundering: U.S. Favored Anticorruption Tool

by Frank Wenceslao

The candidacy and election of Benigno S. Aquino III to the presidency are providential. I believe his campaign theme “Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap” is providential also. After studying various anticorruption models during the past four years, I’m convinced Aquino can effectively address graft and corruption (G&C), turnaround the country’s decades of deterioration and jumpstart national recovery and sustainable development.

This, of course, depends on the totality of our national leadership joining the world’s indignation against government corruption that bound over 120 of the richest and poor countries including the Philippines into the U.N. Convention Against Corruption and its international cooperation provisions (UNCAC-ICP).

The latter provides, among others, “Countries agreed to cooperate with one another in every aspect of the fight against corruption, including prevention, investigation, and the prosecution of offenders.

Countries are bound by the Convention to render specific forms of mutual legal assistance in gathering and transferring evidence for use in court, to extradite offenders. Countries are also required to undertake measures which will support the tracing, freezing, seizure and confiscation of the proceeds of corruption.”

Let me cite recent examples that money laundering has become the U.S. favored anticorruption tool even when more serious crimes such as drug trafficking and murders exist. Guatemala’s ex-president Alfonso Portillo (2000-2004) was indicted last March by U.S. prosecutors in New York for laundering embezzled public funds and money stolen from a children’s charity through U.S. banks. His extradition to the U.S. where he’d be tried has been ordered by a Guatemalan court.

Last Sunday, May 9, Cancun’s former Gov. Mario Ernesto Villanueva Madrid, one of Mexico’s most feared drug lords, was extradited to New York (his supporters claim he’d been kidnapped by agents of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) where he will be tried for laundering millions of dollars through the now-bankrupt Lehman Bros.

It’s been reported that each Columbian cocaine shipment to the U.S. arranged by him, Villanueva received a sum of $400,000 (£270,000) to $500,000. In 2001, Villanueva was sentenced to six years in prison for money laundering in Mexico. In 2007, he got released but when the U.S. requested his extradition, Villanueva got immediately re-arrested. If convicted on added drug charges, Villanueva could face life in prison in an American federal prison.

Like Al Capone who went to jail for income tax evasion, Villanueva (Madrid is his maternal surname) would go to jail in the U.S. for money laundering not so much for drug trafficking and murders perpetrated by his henchmen. Villanueva became the most senior Mexican politician to be handed over to the U.S. on charges of money laundering.

Thus, Pamusa’s preparing to charge with the FBI Mikey and Dato Arroyo with their spouses for wire fraud in transferring to the U.S. and laundering illegally earned funds by investing in U.S. real estate, business enterprises and making deposits in U.S. bank accounts probably including racketeering (violation of RICO).

They have nobody to blame but their mother and themselves. I’ve warned GMA that if she persisted to run for Congress and appoint Renato Corona to succeed Chief Justice Puno, Mikey and Dato with their spouses will pay dearly for GMA’s perfidies and betrayal of the Filipino people in her 9-year presidency.

Would GMA and husband not follow their children after her presidential immunity ends? Abangan ang susunod na kabanata!

Corona with be similarly charged, as follows: for wire fraud if he’d transferred to the U.S. and laundered funds from inexplicable source or proceeds from corruption probably including racketeering if he’d used the money to invest in U.S. real property, securities and business enterprise. Of course, he’s nothing to worry about if he isn’t culpable for said U.S. crimes that will include conspiracy to commit said crimes and probably foreign corrupt practice, say, if he got paid in the U.S. by a litigant for his favorable decision.

Pamusa will share the whistle reward (15% to 25% of the amount recovered by the Philippine Government) if a litigant or his counsel paid under duress for a favorable decision to any member of the Supreme Court and the judiciary. All we need is when on or about the payment was made in the U.S. to relate it to a bank deposit made and the Suspicious Account Report (SAR) required to be submitted by banks since 9/11/01 to the U.S. Treasury Dept.’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

A notable FinCEN’s action was pulling the rug under the feet of former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer who did not know his frequent money transfers from an offshore account to New City’s Emperors Club where his girlfriend Ashley Dupre worked attracted the attention of a combined FinCEN, FBI and IRS task force that got a court order to tap his phone which spelled his downfall, i.e. either he resigned or go to jail.

Money laundering (making illegal income to appear legitimate) has also become a legal tool of choice against government corruption in Japan, Hong Kong & Macau (China), Switzerland, European Union, etc. As shown in Portillo’s and Villanueva’s cases, money laundering alone suffices to indict and extradite an offender to be tried with added charges and sentenced to jail in the U.S. if convicted.

On the other hand, as non-criminal option a registered anticorruption NGO like Pamusa can file civil suit in the U.S. to recover ill-gotten wealth with a lower standard of proof, i.e. preponderance of evidence rather than beyond reasonable doubt to force settlement. Let it be noted though that family members and close associates acting as U.S. custodians or dummies of ill-gotten wealth are in bigger trouble than their principals more so if they’re naturalized American citizens.

They risk additional charges of tax evasion, perjury or false declaration of official documents, and loss of U.S. citizenship including deportation. The earlier Filipinos accept that through Aquino, God has opened a new window of opportunity for our people to be liberated out of pervasive G&C and its debilitating effects of poverty and so on, the better for those to settle ill-gotten gains and have peaceful lives.

On the other hand, no Filipino accused of corruption whether criminally or civilly would fight in U.S. court because of the enormous legal expenses leaving him no option but to settle, return the ill-gotten wealth to the Philippines and probably keep a part as may be approved by the court.

But why wait to be charged? All concerned can step up and negotiate settlement with Pamusa before the incoming Aquino administration comes up with stringent terms and conditions to recover ill-gotten gains and accruals from Marcos to GMA, their cronies and family members, or private businessmen and individuals that colluded with them.

Let me reiterate like a broken record that Pamusa since its founding in August 2006 has repeatedly asked the cooperation of the Arroyo administration, e.g. to grant us PCGG’s power of attorney to be able to liaise with U.S. government agencies and help in the recovery of Marcos’ and cronies’ ill-gotten wealth to no avail.

The PoA could’ve empowered Pamusa to ask the concerned agencies to help PCGG in its requests and appeals to foreign governments “to freeze and prevent the transfer, conveyance, encumbrance, concealment or liquidation of ill-gotten wealth or properties found within their respective jurisdictions, pending the outcome or the appropriate proceedings in the Philippines” (EOs creating PCGG and transferring it to the DOJ).

I’ve informed PCGG chairman and some commissioners, other government officials and business leaders that Pamusa is authorized by the U.S. Department of Justice in its 11/14/07 letter to me to work with and submit evidence to the FBI to request investigation of alleged violation of U.S. anticorruption statutes as part of the U.S. international efforts to combat kleptocracy pursuant to the UNCAC’s international cooperation provisions (UNCAC-ICP).

At about the time I received USDOJ’s letter, FinCEN in its 11/27/07 letter advised that Pamusa can access financial information it collects through SARs and worldwide with foreign counterparts’ cooperation provided Pamusa has governmental authority to interact with the agency. The evidence obtained by FinCEN can be used against an offender charged of corruption or, if requested by our DOJ, transferred to a Philippine court trying the case like.

This was what happened to Peru’s former President Alberto Fujimori and his intel chief Vladimiro Montesinos and several other discredited foreign leaders now in jail.

PCGG’s PoA would’ve sufficed as our governmental authority since Pamusa is registered with U.S. State Department as an anticorruption NGO in conjunction with the UNCAC. We lost at least three years to catch big “fishes” probably because GMA and husband were afraid they’d be among the first to be targeted.

As previously reported, Pamusa could’ve verified the truth about the millions of dollars lost by soon-to-be former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, GSIS president Winston Garcia, Pagcor chair Efraim Genuino, Jocelyn Bolante (the “fertilizer” man), DBP President Reynaldo David, Ricky Razon and several other Arroyo cronies with Wall Street investment banks in the U.S. financial market meltdown. Hopefully, the incoming Aquino administration would authorize Pamusa to access the financial information of big Filipino “fishes” collected by FinCEN.

Meantime, the US-PINOYS for NOYNOY-MAR are celebrating Benigno Aquino III’s great victory and wishing him success. We realize though the real work has barely begun, which is why Pamusa’s think tank has drafted a plan to flesh out his campaign theme. This is the real change our people can believe in!

The main objective of Pamusa’s plan is to minimize if not save entirely the approx. $20 billion (P800B) the country loses annually to graft and corruption (G&C) including the human skills OFWs bring overseas and to recover an estimated $10-$15 billion (P400 to P600B) ill-gotten wealth of current and former government officials from Marcos to GMA, their close associates and family members or private businessmen and individuals that colluded with them.

Let me stress the P800 billion lost annually to G&C is double the P400 billion budget deficit this fiscal year projected by newly proclaimed Sen. Ralph Recto. Imagine what the remaining P400 billion can do for poor Filipinos especially when there’s no more GMA to squander the nation’s scarce resources buying House members to avoid impeachment and spending for her useless foreign trips with an entourage always of over 50 favored congressmen and spouses staying in the most expensive hotels and dining in similar restaurants abroad.

Aquino needs to name someone who’d ensure the coherent and consolidated application of government anticorruption powers in PCGG, Ombudsman, Presidential Anti-Graft Commission, and other criminal justice agencies alongside available international legal authorities such as the UNCAC-ICP whose enforcement has been simplified by US laws to recover ill-gotten wealth and its repatriation to the Philippines.

By threatening criminal action for “violation of U.S. laws on American soil” such as what Pamusa will charge Mikey and Dato with spouses of wire fraud, money laundering, racketeering, foreign corrupt practices, and conspiracy to commit the crimes, offenders will be compelled to negotiate settlement and hasten the recovery and return of ill-gotten gains to the Philippines to be spent for the Filipino people.

For direct comments:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Manufactured crisis

Dispatches from the Enchanted Kingdom
by Manuel Buencamino
from Business Mirror

The Supreme Court can force you to eat shit, but it can’t force you to like it. —Philip Gilmore

Manuel Quezon III ended his column last Monday with these words, “…the game plan of Aquino’s critics is to downplay the significance of his mandate and to create artificial controversies like the chief-justice appointment. They cannot allow the meaning of this mandate to sink in: Our first indubitably legitimate government in nearly a decade.”

Quezon was right on the mark. The outgoing administration knows and fears the consequences if the meaning of that mandate is allowed to take root.

I was buying a lotto ticket in Cavite last Friday when I overheard a couple talking about the outcome of the election. The man behind me was telling his companion, “Mabuti nanalo si Noynoy ngayon makukulong na rin si Gloria (It’s good Noynoy won, Gloria will finally be sent to prison).”

I smiled and then asked the man if he had heard that Aquino was considering taking his oath of office before a barrio captain instead of the Chief Justice of the Philippines. He told me he had not. But he added, “Maganda kung gawin niya yun. Isang parangal ’yan sa maliliit na tulad namin (It would be a good idea if he does that. It’s an honor for the little people like us.)”

I must admit that I never saw it that way. I was so caught up in the debate over Aquino’s oath-taking that I forgot all about the meaning of his election. But I was in good company; the dean of the UP College of Law was also distracted by the manufactured crisis. He weighed in on the symbolism of the oath-taking: “He does so because of the symbolisms of that ritual.

The oath—prescribed by the Constitution—is administered by the head of an autonomous, coequal department of government charged with the preservation of the words found in the Constitution of the Republic.”

The dean is right up to a point but the man in the lotto line reminded me of the deeper symbolism in the oath-taking: legitimacy in a democracy comes from the ground up, not from the top down. It is conferred not imposed. And so it goes with the appointment of Renato Corona.

I feel bad for Corona. He is not an evil man even though, and this comes not from me but from one of her closest confidants, the one who appointed him is. He is not Gloria’s stooge even though his voting record makes him look that way.

If Aquino had been the one who appointed Corona, the debate over his fitness for the job would have been on his track record and views on critical constitutional issues, not on his cozy relationship with Gloria Arroyo. Corona knows it that’s why he told the media, “Everything I say now will be just words but watch me.”

Corona may yet turn out to be a great Chief Justice but unfortunately he is tainted, branded as someone legally appointed but without legitimacy. And he will always be perceived as the Chief Justice who was appointed to serve as Gloria Arroyo’s get-out-of-jail card.

Corona is made of better stuff than Gloria Arroyo so I don’t understand why he accepted her appointment. She gave him the chief magistrate’s robe but robbed him of his dignity. She did him like a burglar who, after breaking into his house and stealing all his valuables, raided his refrigerator and defecated on his kitchen floor.

And he is the clueless homeowner who comes upon his burglarized home, sees the feces on his kitchen floor, and cries out, “Thank God, she didn’t take everything; at least she left something behind.” For all his years of service, that’s how Gloria repays him and he appreciates it. Sad.

Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms (

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Firm, not arrogant

y Val G. Abelgas

When the Supreme Court voted 9-1 to allow Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to appoint the successor of retiring Chief Justice Reynato Puno despite the constitutional ban on midnight appointments, several opinion makers, including this writer, criticized the ruling, saying that the controversial decision opened the “Arroyo court” to questions of credibility and integrity.

In an article entitled “Arroyo has all bases covered” (March 22, 2010), I called the SC decision “shameless” because the court was willing to interpret the constitution according to the wishes of Arroyo.

Nonetheless, I find it inappropriate for presumed president-elect Noynoy Aquino to insist that he shall not recognize the appointment of newly installed Chief Justice Renato Corona. Aquino has every right to be sworn in by a barangay captain, if he so wishes, but not to recognize the head of a co-equal branch of government, whose appointment went through the constitutional process of nomination by the Judicial and Bar Council and rendered legal with finality by the Supreme Court, is something else.

As one of the leaders of the opposition, Aquino was right to criticize a decision that was highly questionable. But once he becomes the leader of the nation, he is duty-bound to respect the rule of law and the constitutional processes. How can he hope to tell the people to obey the law when he himself cannot abide by a decision that was not to his liking? How can he tell the people to respect the country’s democratic institutions when he himself cannot respect a decision rendered by the Supreme Court?

Aquino needs to be firm, but he does not have to be arrogant. He can ask his lawyers to ask the Supreme Court to reconsider its decision, but in the meantime, he has to give due respect to the new Chief Justice. He can even ask his allies in Congress to impeach Corona, but in the meantime he has to treat him as the head of a co-equal branch of government.

The people elected Aquino because they considered him the exact opposite of everything that was wrong with Arroyo. He must not show any sign that he is as arrogant as Arroyo. He must prove to the people that he respects the rule of law and that all his actions shall be within the bounds of the law and the constitution, unlike Arroyo whose every action sought to undermine the constitution.

In exacting justice, he must not show vengeance. If he must prosecute Arroyo, he must go after all government officials in the present and in the past who abused their power and used their position to illegally amass wealth. His war against corruption must not single out the Arroyos, but must be a sweeping drive to cleanse the government of the corrupt and the abusive.

Aquino must remember that after June 30, he would no longer be just the leader of the Liberal Party and of those who voted for him, but the leader of all the people of his nation, even of those that he vanquished and their supporters. As such, he should not be too confrontational. He must always strive to unite the country, especially after a very contentious campaign and a divisive nine years of the Arroyo administration.

If he voids Corona’s appointment through an executive order as some had suggested, he will trigger a constitutional crisis, a situation that would negate the opportunity for a smooth transition that the recent peaceful elections offered. A constitutional crisis starts his administration on shaky ground, even before he could lay the foundation for a strong government. A constitutional crisis would scare businessmen and investors, again negating the positive outlook that the successful elections brought.

While it is his duty to straighten out the mess that Arroyo has inflicted on the political, social and economic fiber of the country, he also has to be careful not to alienate himself from the various sectors of Philippine society. He has to learn to distinguish between brinkmanship and statesmanship, between a strong leader and a tyrant.

The country can only move forward when the vast majority of the people and those that govern them move as one. The government cannot function properly if the three major branches of government are moving in different directions. It is, therefore, imperative that Aquino strives to get the support of the Supreme Court and Congress for his government’s agenda.

Instead of alienating the members of the Supreme Court, who have proven their independence in many previous cases and who can work more independently without the harassing presence of Arroyo, it would do well for Aquino to win them to his side, to the side of the people that he leads.

Aquino should focus his attention in the next few weeks to gain control of both houses of Congress because allowing Arroyo and his allies to control the lawmaking bodies would cause him more trouble than a Supreme Court with a doubtful loyalty would.

The next six years will definitely be the most difficult in Noynoy Aquino’s life. How he behaves in those six years will determine his fate and those of his people. Indeed, a very heavy burden to carry for someone so young. But who said being president would be easy?


Monday, May 24, 2010

The Comelec pulled off a fast count alright, but is it accurate?

(Roberto Verzola has a background in engineering and economics and a passion for social and environmental issues. He is recognized by the IT industry as an Internet pioneer in the Philippines and works with NGOs on technical issues. He is currently a lecturer at the Institute of Mathematics of the University of the Philippines and a convenor of Halalang Marangal (HALAL).

By Roberto Verzola

The May 10 vote count reached millions within a few hours, and was 90% complete within a week. That’s supposed to be impressive. Stunning, even.

But everytime I ask, “so, how accurate are the counting machines?” I get a blank stare, including a surprising “I don’t know” from Mr. Gene Gregorio, Smartmatic spokesman. He gave this
answer before journalists at the May 8 Kapihan sa Sulo forum, two days before the elections.

I had also asked Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal on April 30, when he met a team of IT experts convened by candidate Joey de Venecia III. His reply was also “I don’t know”.

Nobody, it seems, knows. Not the political parties, not PPCRV and other election watchdogs, not the media.

So, we spent around P11 billion and held a nationwide electoral exercise to determine the future of our nation, without knowing if the machines that counted the votes are accurate or not.

By the way, once we know the accuracy, we can get the error rate. A machine that is 95% accurate has an error rate of 5%. One that is 99% accurate has an error rate of 1%. Comelec specifications called for 99.995% accuracy. This means an error rate of .005% or lower no more than one error in 20,000 marks.

We need such low error rates for very close contests. An accuracy of 99.9% (0.1% error rate) may seem good enough. But such machines cannot resolve contests where the apparent winning margin is less than 0.1%. That margin may be simply due to machine error. In 2007, for example, Zubiri supposedly got .07% more votes than Pimentel, which won Zubiri the 12th and last slot for senators. Machines with 0.1% error rates or higher would have been useless for resolving this contest.

The real test of the 2010 automated election is the very close contests, many of which are still unresolved. For such contests, we need low error rates.

We had six chances to know the PCOS error rates. In five, the Comelec either kept the results from us or otherwise undermined our chance to know. In one, we got a really good idea of the
PCOS error rates. Let us go through each of the six, one by one:

1. SysTest Labs system audit and source code review (half a year before the elections). We paid SysTest some P72 million (1% of total project cost) to conduct a system audit and source code
review of the system. One of the things they should have measured was the error rate of several representative machines. When the Comelec released part of the Systest reports on May 1,
I immediately looked for the machine error rate. I didn’t find it. Either SysTest did not measure it – a major omission – or the Comelec kept the results confidential.

2. Comelec acceptance tests (several months before the elections). As PCOS machines came in, the Comelec should have tested these for error rates, among other things. This is simple
due diligence before accepting an expensive delivery from a vendor. Any machine with an error rate higher than .005% should have been returned to Smartmatic for calibration or replacement.
Accepted machines should have the test results attached to them, accessible to any inspector or stakeholder. The Comelec, if it did these tests at all, have kept the results confidential.

3. Final testing and sealing (FTS) (three days before election day). In some areas, the FTS was done earlier and to everyone’s dismay, the machines made grievous errors! The results were so
bad that the Comelec hastily ordered all election inspectors to stop further testing of the machines. For once, we had a good idea of the machines' accuracy, or lack of it.

4. Second FTS. That fiasco triggered a last-minute mad rush to recall, import, reconfigure, redistribute and reinstall new memory cards in time for May 10. In the chaos, security and
chain of custody procedures must have been ignored or bypassed. Were all new memory cards properly configured? Were all properly delivered and installed? Were all machines properly tested? Did all machines pass the test? I've heard this story several times: “We were told that the testing will be done Sunday afternoon; when we went Sunday, they told us it was done
Saturday.” Thus, when we held the elections, we did not know which machines were accurate, and which have remained grossly inaccurate, as we saw in the first FTS.

5. Voter verification of correct scanning of voters' choices (on election day). This feature, which is built into the machine and is required by law, would have displayed on the screen the names
of candidates corresponding to the ovals which the voter marked, a confirmation that the machine accurately registered the voter’s choices. This feature was disabled by the Comelec. Thus, if the machine was registering candidates other than their choices, the voters would never know.

6. Random manual audit (after the elections). Unfortunately, this audit has lost credibility. First, they announced the precincts to be audited noontime of election day. Forewarned which
machines would be audited, the cheats would have ordered their field operators to stay away from these precincts. A normal audit should finish in half a day — one day at most. Yet, three
days after the elections, no results had been announced. Subsequent results that came in were not made public. The Comelec simply made general public statements that “no discrepancies were found”. Results were delayed a few days, they explained, because ballot boxes were already sent to the municipal treasurer’s office where they had to be retrieved. That's enough time and opportunity to substitute ballot boxes.

Despite these, the Comelec and local election authorities have already proclaimed winners. They did not even await the random audit results, as if they already knew that the audit would
simply confirm the results.

The public is being told, it seems: “We’ve already pulled off a fast count, now you want us to be accurate too?”

Sunday, May 23, 2010

LP may use pork to defeat Gloria

by Roy Pelovello
from Manila Standard Today

The Liberal Party of president-elect Benigno Aquino III is dangling the pork barrel to win over congressmen to its side and thwart the speakership bid of outgoing president and now congressman-elect Gloria Arroyo.

Party spokesman Lorenzo Tanada III said the incoming administration will keep on hold the pork barrel allocation of any congressman who will not vote for the Liberal candidate for House speaker. “That’s the trick the Arroyo administration used on opposition lawmakers,” said Tanada who is being groomed as substitute bet in the event that former mayor and now congressman Feliciano Belmonte Jr. is unable to join the speakership battle.

“We all know the culture in the House; lawmakers need to bring projects to their constituents if they want to show proof of service to their constituents,” Tanada said. “Even if we don’t like to do it, we might just have to just to ensure stability in the House.”

Tanada said the Liberals have only as many as 50 seats in the House which pales in comparison to Arroyo’s Lakas-Kampi- CMD which has 130 congressmen to its side. At least 20 other lawmakers from the party-list groups have expressed support for Arroyo’s speakership bid, according to former congressman Prospero Pichay, Lakas stalwart.

“Admittedly, if it’s only LP, we’d fall short of the number required,” Tanada said.
The vote of at least 141 congressmen or a majority of the 280 members will clinch the speakership.

The Liberals are open to coalition or tactical alliances with other parties, Belmonte said.

The Nacionalista Party of losing presidential bet Manuel Villar is a target for alliance but the LP wants to ensure it would keep control of the House.

“The bigger problem is that since LP is a small group, we might be overwhelmed by these other groups. This is what we’re trying to work on,” Belmonte said.

LP-NP merger thumbed down

The Liberals also came under fire following its overtures to join forces with rival Nacionalista Party of losing presidential candidate Manuel Villar.

Michville A. Rivera, Metro Manila chapter president of the Philippine Association of Campus Student Leaders and former Student Regent of Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Valenzuela, said the LP offer smacks of extreme political opportunism as a “self-serving move” that runs counter to the party’s electoral promise to take the moral high road.

“Where does that leave Mr. Aquino’s self-proclaimed mission of weeding out corruption in the entire bureaucracy?” Rivera asked?

The reality now is that the Liberal Party will forge an alliance with Villar and the Nacionalista Party, notwithstanding their previous negative statements against Villar, Rivera said.

He pointed out that even before Aquino had taken his oath, he was already showing “obvious signs of weakness and flip-flopping that don’t speak well of a strong leader.”

What is the quid-pro-quo in this emerging alliance; what is the bargain?
Volunteerism advocate Daisy Bardoquillo scored the incoming president for engaging in “doublespeak,” trying to mollify suspiscious old allies and associates, while enticing erstwhile enemies with power sharing.

Bardoquillo, information officer of the Green Army and director of the Alyansa ng mga Benepisyaryo ng Pamahalaan, said Aquino’s LP wants to consolidate the fragmented Opposition to capture both the Senate presidency and the House speakership.

She described the unfolding events going towards Aquino’s inaugural as “portentous of the usual division of the spoils among the victors of war.”

Noynoy Aquino: the son also rises

by James Langton
from The National

Illustration by Kagan McLeod for The National

Shorn of his famous surname, it is hard to imagine Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Cojuangco Aquino III plunging into turbulent waters of Philippine politics, let alone poised to become the country’s next president.

Middle-aged and unmarried (though there is a girlfriend) and with thinning hair and unfashionable steel-rimmed glasses, he looks more like the manager of an IT department on his day off than the new leader of 92 million people.

Except for the name. His mother, Cory Aquino, liked to refer to herself as “just a housewife” before her election in 1986 as the country’s first democratically elected leader. So great was the general outpouring of grief after her death from cancer last year, that the funeral cortège of a woman known as “the Saint of Democracy” took eight hours to reach its final destination.

His father, of course, was Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, implacable opponent of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, imprisoned and tortured for his defiance, then forced into exile and murdered by an assassin at Manila Airport at the moment of his return.

Carried on the shoulders of these two political giants, it was almost inevitable for “Noynoy” – the childhood nickname derived from his first name – that high office was his almost for the asking.

Yet serious questions are already being asked about his ability to tackle the country’s systemic economic and political problems, that include rampant corruption and a record budget deficit of US$6.6bn (Dh24.24bn). Despite serving 12 years in public office, first as a member of the House of Representatives and latterly as a senator, until now he has made little impact as a politician.

In an attempt to inject a little glitz into his presidential campaign, his little sister Kris, a glamorous actress and TV host once named by a magazine as the second most powerful celebrity in the Philippines, was a regular on the hustings. Another sister, Maria Elena “Ballsy” Aquino, has been advising him on his wardrobe (although he is reported to have turned down one suggestion of Botox injections). He has also rejected the idea of hair treatments, even if his thinning locks and general appearance have already prompted some local wags to compare him with the TV cartoon character Homer Simpson.

Indeed, Aquino appeared content to live in the shadows of his more famous parents until his mother’s death last August. Then, just 40 days after she was laid to rest beside her husband in the suburbs of Manila, he formally announced his intention to run for the presidency. “They made automatic in me the preference to take up cudgels for those who have less in life, for the powerless,” he told Time magazine last month. “Why should I veer away from their footprints?”

But then, as a witness to the unfolding drama of postwar Philippines politics, Aquino has spent his entire life with a season ticket for the front row. He was born on February 8, 1960, and his father was at the time a rising political star in the Liberal Party and governor of Tarlac Province.

By the time little Noynoy was six, Benigno was the youngest senator in the country’s history but increasingly at odds with Ferdinand Marcos, whose two terms of office were underpinned by a cult of personality and which ended with the declaration of martial law in 1972 and the establishment of a dictatorship.

Aquino senior was one of the first to be arrested by the new regime and spent the next nine years in prison. Tried on charges of subversion, he was sentenced to death by firing squad in 1977, but eventually allowed to go into exile in the US two years later after suffering severe heart problems.

Noynoy, a student at Ateneo de Manila University, graduated with a degree in economics in 1981 and joined his family in Boston.

Two years later, with Marcos rumoured to be in ill health and the political situation deteriorating, Benigno Aquino made the decision to return home. Travelling alone – the family were to follow on a later flight – he was murdered just moments after leaving the aircraft. The motives of the gunman, who was shot dead by security officials, were never established, but many believed that Marcos or his sympathisers were responsible.

Fatherless, the only son, now 23, watched as his mother became the architect of the People Power Revolution that was to force Marcos from power in 1986 and see her become president under a new constitution. Despite her popularity among the masses, Cory Aquino’s record of achievements was mixed and her hold on power at times fragile, with several attempts on her life and unsuccessful coups d’état. On August 28, 1987, rebel soldiers attacked the Malacañang Palace, the presidential residence. In the ensuing firefight, four of his bodyguards were killed, while Noynoy was wounded several times. A fragment of one bullet remains lodged in his neck to this day, though he says he has forgiven his attackers: “That’s past now.”

These incidents have clearly left their mark on the president elect. Hanging on the wall of his campaign office is a photograph of his father lying in a pool of blood, taken seconds after the assassination. He describes that moment as “my Rubicon”, adding: “I cannot accept that he would die for nothing.”

In the election campaign, Noynoy’s surest tactic has been to remind voters of his mother. Like her, he spent time in retreat in a convent before deciding to run. According to his official blog, “he still lives in the same room at his mother’s house”. On the campaign trail he flashed the “L” hand sign for “laban”, or fight, first used by his mother in her fight against President Marcos. The official campaign colour is her signature canary yellow, accompanied, inevitably, by the song Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree.

At one rally, a letter was read out from father to son, written more than 30 years ago when Benigno Aquino was still in prison: “Son, the ball is now in your hands.”

Depressingly, the issues of the 2010 election are much the same as 1986. The outgoing president, Gloria Arroyo, has faced accusations of corruption – including awarding government contacts to companies associated with her husband – and rigging votes to secure her second presidential term. There was even an aborted military coup, only four years ago, attributed to right-wing elements in the armed forces, which prompted a state of emergency.

Equally familiar (and depressing) are some of the faces the elections have thrown up. Arroyo, ineligible for the presidency, has won a seat in congress and has her eyes on the post of speaker, which she may use as a power base to challenge the president. Worse, the world’s most notorious shoe collector, Imelda Marcos has won a senate seat at the age of 80.

Whether the new Aquino on the block can break this cycle is another matter. The country was once one of the richest in Asia. Now it is one of the poorest. Violence is still part of the political fabric. On election day, 12 died – although this a better record than previous polls – and the nation is still reeling from the slaughter of a least 46 people, including a dozen journalists, by a local warlord on the southern island of Mindanao last November.

Many Filipinos have fled to other lands in an attempt to make a living. By best estimates there at least 11 million of them, of which are around 150,000 live in the UAE, some since the 1970s. While the outgoing president Arroyo has made political capital out of the working conditions of some, it is telling that most do not plan to return any time soon. As is the number of recorded votes cast in the UAE – less than 8,000, of which 4,295 went to Aquino.

Opponents have criticised Aquino’s lack of substance beyond his famous last name. He has pledged to create more jobs, improve education and, inevitably, fight corruption. Can he pull it off, when so many have failed?

As the final votes are counted, the president-apparent has already given some indication of what is in store. It is clear that Aquino is already defining himself by what he is not. Not his predecessor, for example, with her fondness for private jets and the lifestyle Filipino politicians like to associate with high office. “My main point is to generate savings by doing things the cheaper way,” he says. “Our deficit is so big we really have to save.”

And maybe not his parents, either. Still, by the age of 50, Noynoy Aquino must have realised that even the most devoted son eventually needs to become his own man.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Halakhakan 2010

Balitang Kutsero
by Perry Diaz

Now that “Halalan 2010” (Election 2010) is over without too much fanfare, the real fun has just begun. It’s “Halakhakan 2010” (Laughter 2010). Yes, there were many funny stories to laugh — or cry — about.

One of the funniest things that happened was that Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao won! Not in boxing but in the Sarangani congressional district election. When asked by my investigative reporter James Macaquecquec what he learned so far in his new job, Pacman answered, “Well, I learned that congressmen eat a lot of pork and they eat it out of a barrel. One fat congressman said that he got the biggest pork barrel. I don’t know why but I guess I have to learn how to eat pork out of a barrel. I also learned that congressmen are good mahjong players.” James asked Pacman why and his answer was: “Well, I was talking to several veteran congressmen and they talked a lot about ‘tong.’ Actually, they call themselves, ‘tongressmen.’ I’m telling you now, I’ll strive to be a great tongressman.” Pacman is surely learning fast. Someday, he’d be like his “belabed president.”

Meanwhile, speculation is rife that Pacman might quit boxing. Hey, with seven titles in seven weight divisions, why fight Floyd Mayweather? Or is it Mayweather’s demand for “drug test” that’s scaring the shit out of Pacman?


Former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon complained about being cheated after losing in a congressional race in Pangasinan. He denounced vote-buying and “bullying” of voters which he claimed “altered the decision of the electorate.” Didn’t he figure prominently in the “Hello Garci” election cheating scandal in 2004? Like they say, “It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.” That’s poetic justice.


I’m not sure if Erap Estrada knows his ‘rithmetic. He thought that the difference between 13 million and 8 million is 5. And that’s the reason why he has not yet conceded to Noynoy.

Erap couldn’t believe that he would end up “number two” in the presidential race. He’s always been “number one.” Now, he can feel how his “number two’s” (about six of them) felt all these years. One of them was elected mayor of San Juan last week, the position he held for many years. Yup, what goes around comes around. That’s karmic justice.


The Social Weather Stations (SWS) is suing presidential wannabe Richard Gordon for P1 million for moral damages. It’s retaliation for Flashy Dick’s complaint that SWS have published “false, fraudulent, biased and defective surveys” in favor of their moneyed clients. The SWS’s pre-election surveys showed that Flashy Dick was a tailender and the voters agreed. What’s the problem, Dick?

The following is an excerpt from an interview with Flashy Dick before the elections:

Flashy Dick: Money does not turn me on.

Interviewer: So what turns you on?

Flashy Dick: I want our country to have the respect it deserves.

I guess the voters granted Flashy Dick’s wish, they voted for Noynoy.


Was “Villarroyo” real? As it turned out, it seems to be a hoax concocted by Gloria’s lackeys to take the heat off Gloria’s anointed candidate, Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro, who was lagging in the poll surveys. Well, that was a “kiss of death” so one of Gloria’s lackeys tagged “Villarroyo” on Manny Villar. Well, it brought Villar down but helped Erap. You see, there is no antidote to Gloria’s “kiss of death.”

But what’s really funny was when Gloria’s lackeys tagged “Aquinorroyo” on Noynoy hoping that it would bring Noynoy down as well. Well, the opposite happened. What Gloria’s lackeys didn’t realize was that Noynoy is Teflon-coated. Ha ha ha…


Gibo got a last-minute booster from Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, the self-proclaimed “Appointed Son of God.” Pastor Q’s sect, called “Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name,” claims to have four million followers in the Philippines and abroad. In his usual flair, Pastor Q told thousands of cheering followers, “Tonight let it be known to all Filipinos that the Almighty Father has appointed the president of this nation. He is no other than Gilbert ‘Gibo’ Teodoro.” With Gibo’s 3.6 million votes, I wonder how many of Pastor Q’s four million followers voted for him? Well, so much for “command vote.” It works only if there’s money attached to the command.


The world may be coming to an end but Nick Perlas, who is trailing by 13 million votes, is not conceding the presidential race until Comelec explains why five to eight million voters were prevented from voting due to long lines and PCOS machine failure. We got some ‘rithmetic problem here, folks. Even if all eight million voters were able to cast their votes and voted for Perlas, he would only get 8,000,048,764 votes. He would still trail Noynoy by 5.5 million votes. That’s simple ‘rithmetic, Nicky. Move on and get a life. There’s more to life than wishful thinking.

Another tailender who refused to concede is Sen. Jamby Madrigal who claimed that “preprogrammed compact flash (CF) cards might have caused her to get fewer votes than disqualified presidential aspirant Vetellano Acosta.” With 41,975 votes, Jamby needs another 13,772,392 votes to beat Noynoy by one vote! Hello? Is my ‘rithmetic correct?

The other day, Erap’s former campaign manager, Ernesto Maceda, claimed that before the elections, some people — could be Nigerians — were selling “preprogrammed” CF cards to make a candidate win. The price was from P30 to P50 million each. Assuming that each CF card would add 1,000 votes per precinct, Erap would need at least 5,000 CF cards to overcome Noynoy’s lead of five million votes. At a bargain price of P30 million per CF card, it would cost Erap P150 billion to win. That’s a lot of moolah! Is the presidency worth that much? Well, for Gloria it could have been. But she didn’t have to spend that kind of money, she just went ahead and grabbed the presidency from Erap. And then she threw him in jail. That’s cruel! Well, with Gloria stepping down soon, poetic justice awaits her.

Gloria spent more than P400 million in pork barrel funds — that’s people’s money — to win the election in Pampanga’s second congressional district. That’s quite a downsize from being president of the country to a representative of a sinkhole in the middle of Jueteng country. I heard from the grapevine that she’s going to be moonlighting as jueteng “kubrador” (bet collector) for her kumpadre, the Jueteng Lord.

Anti-jueteng crusader Fr. Ed Panlilio lost the gubernatorial race to Lilia Pineda, the wife of the Jueteng Lord. Lilia just proved that moolah rules in Pampanga. With Lilia as governor and Gloria as congresswoman, “La Cuarta Nostra” (“Our Money”) will reign supreme in Pampanga. And Pampanga’s new motto would be: “Cuarta Na!” Welcome to Little Sicily.


Friday, May 21, 2010

10 Lessons from Elections 2010

by Boboy Consunji

Let’s try to make sense of what happened in the last months leading to the May 10th elections.

1. Maybe it’s not wise to overspend on advertising. Erap didn’t even spend half of what Villar spent and yet he’s running second to Noy. At a certain point, the massive war chest becomes suspect. You must be gunning for a high ROI since everyone knows that the presidency would make you richer than working in real estate. If you say you’re doing it out of altruism, out of the kindness of your heart, you better look the part of a caring person. Pinoys, a skeptical lot, could see through the fakery. They may be humming the jingle, but not necessarily loving the man.

2. The message may be consistent, but is it genuine, unassailable and own-able? In the first few months of the campaign, Noy’s messaging was all over the place. That was worrisome because it violated one key rule in communications: singlemindedness. Villar’s I-was-poor-like-you-and-I-can-help-you-out-of-your-misery was enviably coherent across all media channels. Even his spokesman would end up with the same theme when asked what his favorite color was. Yet, it made him vulnerable with the road project and stock exchange scams hounding him. It took the original and still-popular pro-poor politician Erap to nullify all that.

3. When things are not going your way, shift the messaging, and go on the offensive. Villar stuck to a message that became increasingly doubtful. And he spent the last weeks of the campaign defending it, and looking cranky with every attack on his supposed philanthropy. Di ba ang pikon, talo? And must you bring in your blind, ailing mother to fight your battle? That did him in and made him all the more look like a beaten crybaby.

4. Villar shouldn’t shift his eyes too much during interviews. Again, he was not looking sincere.

5. Trust the surveys. Pulse Asia and SWS are reputable research firms. The people running these firms are men of integrity, contrary to what you read in your spam folder. They employ scientifically proven polling methods, patterned after the best in the world. Noy’s camp took their cue from Pulse where corruption was found to be the issue foremost in the voters’ minds. It was the most relevant. Incorruptibility was an Aquino equity. So he played it up with much success.

6. Chiz Escudero will be a force to reckon with in 2016. He was the most influential endorser, making Binay happy in the process. By the way, who did Binay’s “Ang bise-presidente ko may B” campaign? That was one stroke of genius. Sadly, Mar was awfully quiet in the last two weeks of the campaign, and didn’t have anything as catchy to say.

7. Oh, Gibo. Poor Gibo. He had potential. He looked great, spoke well and drew a lot of fans. I thought his campaign lacked groundwork, especially in terms of consumer research. If he’d like to win next time, his messaging should be sexier than “galing” at “talino”. In the surveys, those attributes didn’t really matter to the majority. His green army was potentially as formidable as the yellow one but it happened too late to attract people who didn’t have Facebook accounts. Should he choose to run next time, he should consider dropping the “I’m keeping it clean, sans negativity” for that won’t win him votes amongst voters who embrace the imperfect (like Noy’s legislative record and Erap’s drunkenness). Besides, that was actually untrue because his followers did the mudslinging for him. The “I think therefore I’m for Gibo” smacked of intellectual arrogance. Mustn’t do that again, Gibo.

8. Now, it’s my turn to be arrogant. What were my provincemates thinking?! The Kampampangans are a strange lot. We elected the most unpopular president in our nation’s history to a Congressional seat We stink like our famous buru. Macabebe Troops redux. We badly need more active participation from the Pampanga civil society.

9. We really are getting older. The young are clueless about the sins of the now-victorious Marcoses.

10. Automation worked. The Philippines has finally entered the 21st century. Everyone’s sure to be excited about how much more hi-tech (and organized) the next elections will be.