Abalos: A case of offense as best defense?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2007-03-20
It is typical of a husband who goes home at 3 a.m. after fornicating with a mistress — to immediately berate his wife for not opening the door sooner. Thus, I wonder if the reported outburst of Comelec (Commission on Elections) Chairman Ben Abalos last February 28 was a similar defense mechanism.

In a dinner-meeting last Friday with members of the election watchdog group Kontra-daya, (Ret.) Colonel Guillermo "Gerry" Cunanan briefed me, Inquirer’s Conrad de Quiros and Malaya’s Ellen Tordesillas on what transpired during the group’s February 28 meeting with Comelec Commissioner Resurección Borra and Chairman Ben Abalos at the Comelec offices in Intramuros.

According to Cunanan, the incident was triggered by the remark of Kontra-daya member Antonio Tinio regarding the admission by Chairman Abalos that the Comelec can’t implement a requirement of the newly amended law on elections. The new requirement calls for the displaying of the results of the canvassing to the people outside the venue through a projector.

When Chairman Abalos reasoned that Comelec does not have the funds to do it, Tinio commented that such surrender is a reflection of lack of political will. Per Cunanan, Chairman Abalos stood up and shouted at Tinio: "How dare you say that. You have no right to accuse me of having no political will."

Ben Abalos may have forgotten that he is a public servant and accountable to the people. His outburst was uncalled for. To be questioned and accused of lacking in political will can be considered the kinder cut compared to having taxpayers accost him for his lackluster performance, to say the least.

Our hope of safeguarding the integrity of our votes via computerization was first quashed in 2004 under the watch of Ben Abalos. The Supreme Court junked the computerization program on findings that it went through an anomalous bidding process. How Abalos and his Comelec Commissioners escaped indictment and jail sentences for that is one of the black marks of justice in the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) era.

I share the opinion of many who think that the computerization program was sabotaged because a computerized 2004 election would have prevented the cheating we now associate with the Garci Tapes. We just have to wonder if preventing the public viewing of the May 2007 canvassing is another pre-emptive move.

It was under the watch of Ben Abalos when Virgilio Garcillano was alleged to have operated and thwarted the results of the 2004 elections — triggering the series of crises that now threaten our democracy. If Abalos had any political will and desire for clean elections, he would have placed Garcillano under tight supervision — considering how many sectors had already questioned Garcillano’s appointment to the poll body. If Abalos had any political will, he would have, at the very least, assigned Garcillano to an area that is less prone to cheating controversies. No Jimmy Ferrer or Christian Monsod
Under the watch of Ben Abalos, the legally mandated program to computerize the May 2007 elections did not happen. A lot of experts strongly believed that computerization could still be implemented for the May polls but Abalos stood firm on his position that time no longer allowed it.

A Jimmy Ferrer and Christian Monsod would have exerted every effort to computerize the May polls and avoid the repeat of the 2004 fiasco.

Under the watch of Ben Abalos, we now see this Jose Pepito Cayetano being allowed to run for senator in what many believe is a regime maneuver to derail the candidacy of one of its most effective fiscalizers, Taguig Representative Alan Peter Cayetano. This shameless parody on our electoral process has allowed a nonentity with no credible means to run for senator — to eat as much as 23% of votes believed to be intended for Alan Peter Cayetano, as seen in the Pulse Asia February-March survey.

Abalos may not even realize that this Cayetano issue puts his sense of fairness and decency on trial in the eyes of the Filipino people.

To be accused of lacking in political will should be the least of Ben Abalos’s concern. In fact, he ought to thank his kind critic, Antonio Tinio, for limiting his comment to that. When the time comes and an accounting is made of the 2004 and 2007 elections — Ben Abalos may be facing far more serious charges than just lacking in political will.

What riles you about our society is how the guilty like to posture like the righteous. The guiltier they are, the more self-righteous they tend to project themselves. Here, the honest man will likely be more tolerant and forgiving. But the biggest crook will sue for libel if you ever drop the slightest hint that he is not perceived to be as pure as Caesar’s wife.

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