Wednesday, 12 May 2010

A salute to the statesmanship of those who lost



Jojo Robles
Lowdown
Manila Standard
http://www.manilastandardtoday.com/insideOpinion.htm?f=2010/may/12/jojorobles.isx&d=2010/may/12

Here we must also note with pride the display of statesmanship of those presidential candidates who conceded defeat to Noynoy Aquino hours after it became clear that the latter had emerged the winner. One by one, Manny Villar, JC delos Reyes, Gibo Teodoro, Dick Gordon and Eddie Villanueva showed uncommon grace that all other politicians hereabouts should emulate when they accepted Noynoy’s victory.

Unlike most Pinoy office-seekers, all these gentlemen graciously declared that Noynoy had beaten them in a fair fight and that it was now time for the entire nation to move on after one of the most bitter—and probably the most expensive—electoral battles we have ever witnessed. Of course, the default setting, as it were, of Philippine pols is to claim they had been cheated out of victory and that they were demanding a recount.

The supporters of these exemplary candidates—and there are millions of them, too—should take solace in the fact that they backed men of character who can accept defeat unequivocally and who hold the people’s will sacred. As one of these millions of Filipinos, I assure you that I am convinced more than ever that I made the right choice, even if more of us believed otherwise.

The only major candidate who has also lost and who refuses to concede is the guy in the number-two spot after Noynoy, Joseph Estrada. As this is being written, Da Erap has not yet conceded defeat, still believing that he is the victim of Harry Truman-style “trending” and that he will eventually emerge victorious.

If you ask me, Erap is merely sulking not only because it’s the first time in his long and colorful political career that he’s been number two but also because his own number-two guy is number one. Yes, this election’s true literal and figurative dark horse, Estrada running mate Jejomar Binay, holds the lead in the tightly contested vice presidential race over Mar Roxas and looks like he’s getting the post of second-in-command of Noynoy.

The much-rumored friction between Estrada and Binay erupted yesterday after television cameras caught Erap voting and deliberately not shading a circle in the vice presidential category. Estrada’s spokesmen may deny that the former president didn’t even vote for his running mate, but anyone with a pair of eyes and YouTube knows that they’re not telling the truth.

Understandably, Estrada seems unable to accept that Binay benefited from being associated with the two leading candidates, thus giving the Makati mayor the momentum to pull off a come-from-behind victory over survey leader Roxas, Aquino’s running mate. And the junking of Roxas came to pass all because of the machinations of Chiz Escudero and the Yellow faction that never cottoned to Roxas in the first place.

Someone must advise Erap that because of automated canvassing, he can no longer hide behind the fig leaf of trending. And that his old-school posturing simply makes him look out of touch with a reality where PCOS machines rule and where raw video footage goes viral.

Me, I’m just happy that I don’t have to explain why we Filipinos chose as president someone we’d already elected to that office—and someone that we’ve sent to jail for crimes he committed while he was there. Even if, for a while there, I got really, really scared that I would have to do just that.

* * *

Speaking of PCOS machines, here’s a non-machine generated “Congratulations!” to our election officials on every level and to Filipino voters all over the country. Despite the glitches, the rumors and the chaos, we seem to have pulled off the first automated elections in this country.

While some PCOS machines conked out inexplicably in some polling centers (including my own), they did what they were supposed to do overall, which was to eliminate the thriving business of “dagdag-bawas” at the municipal and provincial canvassing levels by directly transmitting the votes to servers at the Commission on Elections. Comelec and its much-criticized technology provider Smartmatic also did a good job of posting the results as they came in from all over at the Iba na Ngayon Web site, giving everyone with a computer access to actual returns (with percentages and color-coded pie charts, as well) down to the clustered-precinct level.

All the voters who sweated it out at the schoolhouses and patiently waited to vote should congratulate themselves, too. Everyone who voted showed the best qualities of the Filipino by choosing active involvement over the usual apathy.

Here’s hoping that the next-generation PCOS machines won’t have as many bugs —and that the masters of election fraud don’t find a way to get around this new, unhacked system in elections to come.

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