By Herbert Vego
TODAY is the day that we hope would reshape the governance that has made our country “notorious” for graft and corruption and violation of human rights. We are going out to vote for national and local government leaders.
As a columnist, this writer has always taken a critical, rather than “neutral “stand; otherwise I would be betraying my role as molder of public opinion. A column is a platform to ventilate one’s opinions for or against the government, groups and individuals.
I find it hypocritical that a presidential candidate says in his TV ad, “Kailangan nating maging mapagbantay sa ating mga boto.”
Look who’s talking! True, we need to be mapagbantay or watchful over our votes. But as to whether the candidate behind those words means what he says, I doubt. He could be the same person whom critics call “thief, liar and tax evader”.
Some of you reading this are old enough to remember that the late dictator President Ferdinand E. Marcos called for regional parliamentary elections without lifting martial law on April 7, 1978. No less than the jailed opposition leader, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, led an opposition slate in Metro Manila; they all lost – unbelievably. In contrast, First Lady Imelda Marcos topped the rigged race.
On January 17, 1981, Marcos issued Proclamation No. 2045, lifting his 1972-imposed martial law (without giving up his powers) to coincide with Pope John Paul II’s visit to the Philippines.
Next, he called for a June 16, 1981 presidential election, which the legitimate opposition would not “bite” because it would be as farce as the 1978 election. Thus, it was only his friend Alejo Santos, a retired general and World War II veteran, who responded to the challenge. As expected, Marcos beat Santos by an 80-percent majority.
Marcos’ new mandate would have entitled him to a re-election after six-years in 1987, but he decided to call a “snap election” earlier on February 7, 1986 – almost three years after the August 21, 1983 assassination of Ninoy Aquino. It was Ninoy’s widow and housewife, Corazon “Cory” Aquino, who ran against him.
On February 9 or two days later, 35 tabulators/computer workers manning the computer terminals of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) walked out to protest the cheating they were being made to railroad the re-election of Marcos.
That walkout of vote tabulators triggered the People Power Revolution that installed the revolutionary government of President Cory Aquino on February 25, 1986.
One of the first acts of the first lady president was to appoint officers-in-charge (OICs) as temporary public officials. She appointed Rodrigo Duterte as OIC-mayor of Davao City. As to why, she recalled that Duterte’s mother, Soledad, was an activist who had campaigned for her against Marcos.
It is truly a twist of ironic fate that Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Duterte’s only daughter Sara are running together as a “uniteam” for president and vice-president, respectively. They are being promoted by commercial pollsters as “frontrunners”.
I hope I was wrong in my previous columns that raised doubts on the integrity of today’s election.
There also looms the possibility of Marcos, assuming he wins by hook or by crook, getting disqualified by the Supreme Court due to “moral turpitude over non-payment of taxes,” thus giving way for the elected vice-president to take over.
God save the Philippines.
KUDOS TO MORE POWER
ONCE in a blue moon, we hear of corporate heads who think of service first, profit secondary. One such person is Roel Z. Castro, under whose presidency MORE Electric and Power Corporation has carved its reputation as distributor of the cheapest energy in the Philippines. As the sole distribution utility in Iloilo City, MORE Power has kept its rates low, specifically P7.23 per kilowatt-hour at this time when electric cooperatives charge much higher at between P11 and P12 due to oil-price hike.
As election 2022 unfolds today, Castro is on the frontline, leaving no stone unturned in ensuring power stability in all 66 polling precincts in the city. He had signed a memorandum of agreement with the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), aimed at keeping the system functioning 100 percent.
This means that power concerns on the holding of transparent and credible elections will merit unbridled attention.
“We have done as much maintenance work as necessary,” he told the Daily Guardian. “All polling centers have been checked for power stability. We have replaced defective transformers and wires with new ones.”
Street lights surrounding schools with polling centers are now fully functional.
He vowed “full alert” against unexpected but possible exigencies ranging from flying of kites to illegal installation of “jumpers” which could short-circuit or disrupt electricity flow. This task would be carried out by response teams on 24-hour rotation.
To quote Castro as reported in this paper the other day, “We in MORE Power are taking this very, very seriously because this is going to chart the fate of our country in the next six years.”
But of course, such a lofty intention could only be made possible with the corresponding commitments of the generating utilities and the National Grid Power Corporation (NGCP).