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At Large

Wazzup, Comelec?

To paraphrase a psychologist (Dr. Margie Holmes, are you reading this?), “there is nothing we can do about how others behave, the only thing we can control is how we react to them.”

This is not to detract from the hundreds, thousands and even millions of Filipinos who voted for Otso Diretso and are now out in the streets (in front of the Philippine International Convention Center, or PICC, in particular) and battling it out on Facebook decrying the results of the midterm elections. This is how they choose to react, venting their frustration and their disappointment.

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It is also their hope, perhaps, that by refusing to keep quiet, the disquieting results arising from the various anomalies in the conduct of the elections—before, during and after the polls—will be addressed and corrected. There seems to have been a reason, after all, why the charges raised against former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Andy Bautista were trained so relentlessly against him that he was forced to resign and leave the country.

Save for two independent-minded commissioners, the rest of the Comelec board have chosen to keep their counsel, letting poor spokesperson James Jimenez carry the burden of defending the body.

Comelec Chair Sheriff Abas, in particular, seems puzzlingly remiss, keeping silent amid the deluge of criticism from the media, commentators and the protesters stationed outside the PICC.

So, wazzup, Comelec? PPCRV chair Myla Villanueva in media interviews says that while the poll body has largely satisfied her and her consultants with their explanations about the “glitches” that occurred during the counting, one or two questions linger. One would think the Comelec would rush to reassure her and other watchdog groups that everything was on the up-and-up and the puzzling seven-hour delay and “unmathematical” patterns of voting have rational explanations.

But without complete, reasonable and acceptable rationalizations, voters can’t help but continue to nurse deep, dark suspicions about May 13’s voting, or its results. Meanwhile, we can stew in our simmering anger, or else pick up the pieces and hold the newly elected officials to account and keep a watchful eye on them.

Developments in the party list elections bear some watching. Foremost are the issues surrounding former (or recently ousted) National Youth Commission chair Ronald Cardema, who is seeking to become the substitute No. 1 nominee of the Duterte Youth party list.

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon has thrown cold water on Cardema’s plans, saying that he filed his petition for substitution beyond the deadline set for it, although there are claims that he had done so a few days earlier. Also, Cardema is 33 years old, beyond the 30-year-old limit set for the youth sector. The Comelec en banc has yet to meet to decide on this and other cases.

I hope, though, that Cardema doesn’t prevail. If he is allowed to sit as Duterte Youth representative at the last minute, it just highlights the extent to which the party list system has been corrupted.

Conceived as a way to allow marginalized sectors to obtain seats in the legislature, the party list system has become a proxy machine for political wannabes who can use their wealth and influence to advance their own selfish interests.

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Though no procedural charges have been raised against it, eyebrows have been raised at the win of the Anti-Crime and Terrorism Community Involvement and Support (ACT-CIS), which is leading the pack among the victorious party list groups. The eyebrow-raising was because ACT-CIS is led by its “advisor” Erwin Tulfo, who also voiced its radio-TV commercials. It may be remembered that Erwin, his brother Raffy and sister Wanda Tulfo Teo were involved in the controversial multimillion-peso advertising deal with the Department of Tourism (which Wanda used to head), the government-owned People’s Television Network Inc. and the Tulfo-owned Bitag Media.

Teo was asked to resign from her post because of the suspicious contract but, so far, the Tulfo brothers have refused to return the money in question. Obviously, suspicions are rife that the millions spent on ACT-CIS’s advertising, something that other party lists could not afford, came from the millions reaped from the contract. We were, to borrow a local saying, fried in our own fat!

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See the bigger picture with the Inquirer's live in-depth coverage of the election here https://inq.ph/Election2019

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TAGS: 2019 elections, 2019 party-list nominees, ACT-CIS, At Large, Comelec, election glitches, rina jimenez david
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