July 7, 2005 · Posted in: In the News

Finally, the heat is on Comelec

IT has been a month since the taped conversations between Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano suggesting manipulation of presidential election results to favor Arroyo has come to the public’s knowledge. Since then, five committees of the House of Representatives have been jointly conducting hearings on the contents of the tapes. An impeachment case against Arroyo has recently been filed. The opposition, ‘civil society’ organizations, and the Left have invariably called on the president to resign after she admitted and apologized on national television for her “lapse in judgment” for calling a Comelec official yet unnamed.

Save for a few disparate voices in and out of government, it is only now though that calls for the revamp of the Comelec and the resignation of its commissioners are fast gaining currency. Some groups are even clamoring for its total abolition. Although rather belated, the heat that the Comelec is now taking is certainly most welcome.

On Tuesday, Sixto Brillantes, election lawyer of the opposition, has demanded the immediate resignation of  Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos Sr. Also adding their voices insisting on a Comelec revamp are groups like Bantay Katarungan and Kilosbayan both associated with former Senate president Jovito Salonga. The two groups filed criminal complaints against Comelec commissioners before the Ombudsman last year for the Supreme Court-nullified contract involving the anomalous procurement of automated counting machines intended for use in the 2004 elections.

Constituting a new Comelec, the groups say, is "now imperative and can no longer be postponed or deferred" especially in the runup to the coming ARMM elections next month. Analyzing Arroyo’s taped conversations, the groups have come to the conclusion that:

"Their conversation was not just to preserve her lead of a million votes in Cebu and Iloilo — it was a scheme to manipulate the votes in several places in Muslim Mindanao to help achieve the same end."

A local official from as far as Zamboanga has issued similar calls to ensure that future elections will be clean, credible, and honest. Surprisingly, such demands have also emanated from "within the belly of the beast."

“We should demand punishment from top to bottom,” says Atty. Ferdinand Rafanan, Comelec director for the National Capital Region.”We’re nurturing the wrong culture in the Comelec. It’s a wrong response to cover up for these people. This is a question of the president committing a crime or undermining the independence of the Comelec.”

The Comelec official even wonders why Pres. Arroyo, at the onset of the controversy, has not called for an investigation of the poll body, at the very least Garcillano, inspite of her denials that she was not party to the electoral fraud. Arroyo’s continued inaction, in his view, borders on an impeachable offense — betrayal of the public trust.

To this day, Malacañang has kept mum on the issue, refusing to comment even on mounting calls for Abalos’s resignation. All Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye could say is that it’s Abalos’s responsibility to answer the charges against him.

Since Day 1, Abalos has resisted calls for him to step down, arguing that the fault of one is not the fault of everybody. Though the Comelec chairman has announced a probe to shed light on the “Gloria-Garcillano” tapes subject to authentication by the National Telecommunications Commission (NTC), this has not come with an urgent resolve to summon Garcillano, who has since been in hiding.

His excuse is that he cannot force Garcillano “because it is his right” not to subject himself to an investigation. And since Garcillano is no longer commissioner after his appointment lapsed last month, the Comelec has not bothered to contact or locate him.

To all the resignation and revamp calls, a caveat though. As a constitutional body, the Comelec is less accountable to the other branches of government and the public. Commissioners can only be removed by impeachment. Congress can investigate Comelec’s work but cannot directly sanction it or its members. It can legislate laws to govern the overall conduct of elections that will have a regulatory effect on the Comelec’s practice of its functions. The Supreme Court, on the other hand, can overturn Comelec’s decisions on matters involving jurisdictional excesses and grave breaches of authority.

Still, as the appointing authority, a lot rests on Pres. Arroyo’s own resoluteness, inspite of her own crisis of credibility, to restore the public’s trust and confidence in the Comelec further tarnished by the "Gloria-Garcillano" tapes. Former Comelec chair Christian Monsod has been going around publicly suggesting that she immediately name two new, good commissioners to replace Garcillano and Manuel Barcelona Jr. (Arroyo has just named Court of Appeals (CA) Presiding Justice Romeo A. Brawner as new poll commissioner.)

Members of the Liberal Party, which remains part of the ruling coalition, recently had a meeting with Arroyo to also urge her to revamp the Comelec as part of the reform package, even reminding the president of her unkept promise to the party to appoint education undersecretary Jose Luis "Chito" Gascon as commissioner. But to the LP members’ dismay, Arroyo’s curt reply was that she’d give it a thought.

12 Responses to Finally, the heat is on Comelec

Avatar

alagad

July 7th, 2005 at 3:31 am

magkaisa ang lahat na naniniwalang may dignidad ang pinoy na tumayo at manindigan sa katotohanan. sobra na ang kawalanghiyaan ng pekeng administrasyon ni Arroyo. Panahon na para palitan ang bulok na sistema.
Itapon ang mga magnanakaw at mga sinungaling na miyembro ng pekeng pangulo.

Let’s make us proud again to the eyes of the world.

Gago lang at sinto-sinto ang naniniwala na walang katarantaduhang ginawa ang pekeng pangulo at mga walanghiyang militar na galamay nito.

Avatar

Leo

July 7th, 2005 at 4:43 am

Ano pa ang hinihintay natin, wala ng bukas na darating.. Sarado na ang telon, tapos na ang palabas. Nakatulugan na ni ingkong ang pagkalam ng kanyang sikmura dahil hindi pa siya nagaalmusal, nagtatanghalian at lalong hindi pa naghahapunan. Ubos na rin ang huling hitit ni impo sa kanyang sigarilyong itim. Nakakaalis daw ng gutom ang paghitit ng sigarilyo. Pumatak ang luha sa mata ni Buboy wala ng laman ang palabigasan, tanda ko 2 araw na siyang hindi nakakapunta sa tambakan, maysakit kasi siya… Sayang kung kaya ko lang lumakad….
Mahabang panahon ko ng naririnig mula sa sigaw ng mga raliyista ,, ibagsak, baguhin, palayasin, isulong pero wala namang nabago, lalo pang naragdagan ang pagdurusa ng taong bayan.. Ang mga ganid na pulitiko na tumataba sa salapi ng bayan, ang mga marurunong sa sinasabi nating batas, sila ang unang una na nagsasamantala sa kahinaan ng mga kapuspalad… Putulin natin ang sungay ng dimonyo.. Ibulid natin sa apoy ang apdo ng mga ganid at buwaya sa kapangyarihan… Lumayas ka sa trono mong inuugatan ng kasakiman sa kapangyarihan.

Avatar

benign0

July 7th, 2005 at 7:48 am

Since we’re in the business of organising “movements” (and are quickly going down the road towards perverting even that concept), why don’t we launch a movement to ignore political noise?

Everything is so politicised now that the nation is on the verge — if it isn’t yet — of paralysis. Everyone is busy issuing “statements” — Law schools, The Church, prayer groups, business groups, fraternities. What’s next? Think of the example we are setting for our kids. Maybe soon our kids will be politicised as well.

Pinoy nga naman talaga. Excel palagi sa kabulukan.

We are so caught up with political gossiping and collecting these little factoids (such as the articles posted in blogs like these) about the current debacle and asking each other if we are for or against GMA that we fail to notice that the rest of the world largely ignores us now. That’s right. If you think being the laughing stock of the world was bad (as we were back in the late 90’s), let’s see what it’s like being IGNORED.

Panay pa naman tayo pagyayabang about our ability to attract Call Centre business (the future dominant employer of the majority of our Lasallistas, Atenistas, and all the other XXXistas 😀 ).

That will be the theme of Philippine history in the next 20 years — an obscure comedy relief banana republic in the middle of chopsticks land. The land of the tri-annual impeachment-cum-EdsaRevolution-cum-rally-cum-fiesta.

Maybe we should start revising our tourist brochures and start marketing our tri-annual fiesta administration changes as a tourist attraction? Let’s start using more colourful national costumes whenever we hit the streets. That way we can have a kind of a mardi-gras tribal spectacle for our much-needed tourists. Think about all those anthtropologists who would flock to the country to observe these amusing tribal rituals of ours. Our hotels should offer high-powered telescopes in each of their rooms so that foreign nationals can observe our quaint political exercises from a safe distance while sipping Merlot in their rooms.

Isn’t it ironic that a president who made a hobby out of parading pre-trial suspects before their day in court for the public to spit at now is herself the object of such a primitive practice?

Pinoy nga naman talaga.
Parang aso.
Matangkad lang kapag naka-upo.

Visit this site for more insightful views like this:
http://www.getrealphilippines.com

Avatar

benign0

July 7th, 2005 at 8:37 am

I just finished a book written by Jared Diamond called “Collapse”. In this book, Diamond used an island called Christmas Island as a case study to bring across his point.

Christmas Island was once a richly-forested island that supported a civilisation that was pre-occupied with the building of huge monolithic long-eared heads which symbolised some kind of god of theirs. Because the island supported several tribes each with their own aristocratic class, each tribe tried to outdo each other in the building of these obelisks.

These obelisks were so heavy that they required the use of logs to transport them from their sculptors’ site to the seaside where they were mounted.

Before long the most able-bodied men of the land and the wood harvested from its forests were being applied to the task of transporting these obelisks (which were constantly increasing in size) to the seaside. Nobody noticed that their forests were starting to dwindle, and that their society had created a runaway chain reaction of building ever larger obelisks and sustaining the aristocrat class that was promoting the whole unproductive activity.

The aristocrat class encouraged this behaviour by convincing their subjects that they need to keep paying tribute to the gods to ensure abundant harvests every year. People were too busy participating in the petty conflicts of their tribal chieftains (largely driven by their fixation on outdoing one anothers’ sulpting prowess) to notice that their forests were already dwindling leaving barren soil that was unsuitable for growing crops. In fact, part of the conflict among the different tribes involved access to the finite sources timber in the island for their obelisk building operations. All this as their own populations doubled and tripled with each passing generation.

I’m sure people who hang around this blog are intelligent enough to see where this was all headed.

Christmas Island today is a deserted and barren island. Only the obelisks leave a poignant reminder of the foolishness of a civilisation whose fixation on the specatcles of their chieftains and the politics of these spectacles.

I read a few days ago that a group of scientists have reported that our dependence on ground water is resulting in the rapid sinking of coastal areas of Metro Manila like Navotas, Malabon and other flood-prone areas. Needless to say, our forests are practically gone, our agriculture is being crushed by far more competitive imports (it is cheaper to import corn from Brazil than grow and transport it from Mindanao), and our population growth is among the highest in the world.

I’m sure people who hang around this blog are intelligent enough to see where our country is headed.

More views like this? Visit:
http://www.getrealphilippines.com

Avatar

signals

July 7th, 2005 at 8:57 am

kailan kaya kina conception ng simpatitek-namfrel at canadian bill luz?

Avatar

koj

July 7th, 2005 at 9:04 am

a revamp, abolition or anything that will change comelec is very much welcome. automation with tested procedural controls from voting to canvassing will ensure that votes will not be tampered or rigged.

in a country that is so opinionated like ours, it would be difficult to choose non-partisans to man the comelec! in due time, a politically neutral individual, unless he is unsociable, will somehow be inclined to one side. the comelec should be representative of people from all walks of life.

a credible comelec where the people can identify themselves with and an automated election would be a good formula to ensure that the voice of the people will be heard.

Avatar

DIMITRI

July 7th, 2005 at 9:26 am

if there is any HONOR left in CHAIRMAN ABALOS, dapat kanang mag-RESIGN, kung nasa JAPAN lang tayo, siguradong NAKASAKSAK na ang SAMURAI sa SIKMURA mo! Umalis kana dyan! LET THE CLEENING PROCESS BEGIN NOW!

Avatar

DIMITRI

July 7th, 2005 at 9:45 am

TO REP. TEDDY CASIÑO of BAYANMUNA, anak ng tinapa naman, nung NASA KALYE kapa, HINDI KANAMIN NARINIG MAG INGLES, ngayong nasa KULUNGAN KANA NG MGA LOBO, ESTE, KONGRESO, SUMAMA KANASAKANILANG ISTILO…MAGPAKATOTOO kayong mga AKTIBISTA, WAG NYONG LOKOHIN ANG BAYAN! GAMITIN MO ANG ATING SARILING WIKA SA KONGRESO TEDDY! WAG KAYONG MAGPALAMON SA SISTEMA DYAN SA MORO-MORONG KONGRESO NG MGA ELITISTA AT MAYAYAMAN! KUNG MABASA NYOTO, mga AKTIBISTANG PLASTIK SA KONGRESO, SUMAGUT KAYO, “HON.” (PWE) TEDDY, BELTRAN, LISA AT SATUR….ANO, MAY NAGAGAWA BAKAYO DYAN? ANG SARAP NG BUHAY NYO NGAYON DYAN ANO…NKA-AIRCON PKYO…NAKALIMUTAN NYUNA ANG MGA MALILIIT NA TAONG NAGLUKLOK SA INYO DYAN. ETO NO. KO. 09102057888

Avatar

mon

July 7th, 2005 at 10:01 am

For lack of better description, also due to exasperation – COMELEC Chair B. Abalos is like a used prophylactic in an illicit and amoral affair.

Dirty, stinky and better off placed in the trash bin to be forgotten. Of course, a full-blown investigation would be nice to determine any criminal or civil liabilities. But in this current top-to-bottom better-off discarded system, a mass leave of govt employees those who still have a shred of self-respect would be a “bloodless” way to “force” those whose cupidty has long blinded them from what is the basic norm of decency, honesty and selflessness.

Haaaay….

Avatar

koj

July 7th, 2005 at 10:49 am

haay naku, puro na lang tayo call for resign…e hindi nila gagawin yan…kahit kayo pa ang nasa pwesto…mahirap ‘ata ang mailagay duon..

just in case, sino ipapalit ninyo? paano sya pipiliin? sa batas ngayon, kung di ako nagkakamali, e ang pangulo ang mag-aapoint tapos daan sa commission on appt…e yung dalawang grupo na ‘yon pulos pulitiko…syempre maglalagay sila ng posibleng makatulong sa kanila later…ano ang alternatibo…

kung mabago man ang pamumuno, tapos ganun pa rin ang sistema ng eleksyon, paano tayo makasiguro na malinis ang halalan?

paano?

Avatar

tobebs

July 7th, 2005 at 2:38 pm

Pres. Gloria MACAPAgaL Arroyo announced recently the appointment of Justice Romeo A. Brawner as new COMELEC commissioner. Lets all join hands in welcoming the new commissioner by saying “HELLO BROWNIE”.

Avatar

Garcigwen

July 7th, 2005 at 7:34 pm

Hello Brownie. hahaha.

Seriously. Abalos should resign and do it Japanese style. not harakiri.
Just resign to take command responsibility for having allowed the
Garci-gate Gloriagate mess to happen. More practically, so an
honest-to-goodness internal investigation can be conducted.

Comment Form