A hopeful yet fearful Filipino nation
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-05-09

Tomorrow will be a fateful day in our history. The day is pregnant with both hope and fear - hope that things will get much better for all of us and yet we fear that our hopes can be transformed into our greatest nightmare should the May 10, 2010 elections be marred by massive fraud.

Based on the May 2 - 3 SWS (Social Weather Stations)-BusinessWorld nationwide survey which was published last Friday, Liberal party (LP) presidential candidate, Senator Benigno Simeon “Noynoy” Aquino III, now leads his closest rival by 22%. Aquino rated 42% while former president Joseph Estrada had 20%, Senator Manny Villar with 19% and Gilbert Teodoro with 9%.

Considering the SWS track record for pinpointing election winners and losers, the same trend reflected in the recent surveys of the Pulse Asia and Manila Standard Today, the big boost of the Iglesia ni Cristo endorsement - few would doubt that Noynoy Aquino will be the next president on July 1, 2010.

Under normal conditions, there shouldn’t be any apprehensions or tensions about the outcome of the presidential election. It’s highly unlikely that a 22% margin in a credible survey will be overcome in a week. All the more when it is factored that Aquino is on an upward momentum. The realistic expectation is that Aquino could attain a bigger winning margin as many of the undecided will tend to go with the perceived winner.

The apprehensions and tensions should be in the vice presidential race where Makati City Mayor Jojo Binay now leads erstwhile race leader Senator Mar Roxas of the Liberal Party in the SWS-BusinessWorld May 2 - 3 nationwide survey. Both were listed with 37% ratings but it was clarified that Binay is considered the leader with a 0.2% advantage.

What should worry the Roxas camp is that Binay’s lead was attained in a dramatic ascent during the March, April and May SWS surveys. Binay went up from 21% in the March 19-22 SWS survey to 25% in the April 16-19 SWS survey to 37% in the May 2-3 SWS survey. Roxas went down from 47% in the March SWS survey to 39% in the April SWS survey and now 37% in the May SWS survey.

Roxas now trails Binay at a time when the Liberal Party vice presidential candidate is suffering a downward momentum and his now leading Pwersa ng Masa (Power of the Masses) Party rival is being propelled by a big upward momentum. Binay had a 12% rating jump in just three weeks, from the April 16-19 SWS survey to the latest May 2-3 SWS survey.

The big question now is how much more did Binay add to his 0.2% lead over Roxas during the last week of campaigning? Can the Iglesia ni Cristo and Kingdom of Jesus Christ endorsements save Roxas in the vice presidential race? The two endorsements of the religious groups can account for a 3% addition for Roxas. Ground capability can be the decisive factor which will determine the winner of the vice presidential race.

The excitement generated by the vice presidential race is nothing compared though to the tension created by the fear that the automated election will be marred by possible massive cheating or system failure - whether due to real incompetence and oversight or programmed incompetence or oversight.

The Comelec (Commission on Elections) has not exactly inspired public confidence that it can do the job or wants to do the job right. The many adverse decisions against the Liberal Party - against LP Governors Grace Padaca, Ed Panlilio and Joselito Mendoza of Isabela, Pampanga and Bulacan, respectively - as well as the failed attempt to assign the Dominant Minority Party accreditation to the Nacionalista Party, created the public perception that the Comelec is out to ensure an LP defeat in this election.

Public perception that there’s an “automated Garci” cheating operation which the administration is allegedly mounting sharpened owing to the many snags and delays in the automation setup, the removal of security features and the recent testing failures. Many of us want to give the Comelec the benefit of the doubt but the 2004 and 2007 election cheating operations compel us to be wary, vigilant and proactive.

Our nation is at a crossroad. If we do not succeed in electing a new government that will right the wrongs of the past, we may be irreversibly marching down the road towards a major social explosion with civil war a very likely possibility.

Poverty is best characterized by the absence of options. Many of our countrymen are now living under this condition where they feel that they have no more options left. This makes them prone to listening to the siren songs of false messiahs and misguided adventurisms.

Elections are the best means for resolving worrisome developing national tensions. Elections allow pent up negative emotions to be expressed via peaceful means. Elections allow people to install a new government that embodies their trust and confidence - utterly important in order to reverse desperate social conditions.

It is bad enough if we encounter a failure in the electoral process. It can be catastrophic if the government itself is suspected by the people as the engineer of a failure of election. It was a failure of the 1986 election process that produced the People Power Revolution. The results of the 1986 Snap Election were tainted by the walkout of the computer programmers.

Our country cannot afford a failed election at a time when socio-economic conditions are far worse when compared to 1986, when the nation has reached a deep distrust of the government, when divisions are rocking the police and the military and when political polarization can easily lead to civil war.

We must pray for the Comelec that they will accomplish their mission to conduct an efficient, fair and honest election. We must pray for Madame Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and the people around her that they will do the patriotic act of ensuring a smooth transition of power. We must pray for national unity and reconciliation so that we as a nation can finally rise above our petty divisions and take our rightful place in the community of achiever nations.

But most of all, we must not just pray but also get involved in the democratic process. This is our country and our people on the line.

* * *

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

[Click here for the Archive]

Home | As I Wreck This Chair | High Ground | Career Brief and Roots | Advocacies | Landmarks Copyright 2006 The Chair Wrecker by William M. Esposo