A week after the e-lections, citizens are questioning its integrity. Just like before, we hear cries of “dagdag-bawas,” be it manual or electronic. But who has the smoking gun? Only telltale signs, so far, that aren’t admissible in court. It’s a given that some won hands down on their own merit and those who fell short of the mark. What we don’t know is the exact count, whether some winners are really losers and if some losers actually won.
We don’t know because the truth is well hidden. There are indications though that something is indeed amiss. Finding out the truth is the right thing to do.
But unless there’s sufficient “smoking gun” evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the e-lections were for sale – by who, for who and against who – putting up a tantrum won’t solve it. We need to get down to the root causes and work fearlessly to excise it altogether from our culture.
Reality tells me we’re just battling the consequences of our continuing collective failure to keep the democratic ideal and spirit alive in our thoughts, words and deeds. Self still comes before country. That’s what our forefathers and national heroes struggled against. When will we ever begin to place country before self and persist through generations?
Many of us ask: when big money is involved, where does it come from — oligarchs? drug and gambling lords? money-laundering machines? nation-states? Without that verboten backing, one has to cough it up. But when the big bucks come rolling in through the backdoor, the next questions to ask are: what’s the return on investment? What’s the real deal?
A candidate needs trunks of cash to mount a national campaign and outdo the competition with deeper pockets. It’s rare for a benefactor to part with his money with no strings attached. I had some who gave freely and unconditionally, and I thank them from the bottom of my heart. But it wasn’t enough to compete head-on. Yet, I still did my duty to offer myself as an alternative for new politics, and my volunteers were heroic.
It would have been better, though, if voters spent for the candidates they truly believe in. Say, for every million supporters contributing 30 bucks monthly for 5 months, that would translate to P150 million. If I had that amount, I would have gone a lot farther in winning the vote and protecting the count. The trouble is that we don’t, and we won’t, have that mindset, not in a long time.
What perplexes is that unlike 2016 when I ran only to introduce myself and build a runway for 2019, I got more votes then, than now. This time around, after obtaining the support of 4 living presidents; local officials and congressmen; and, of ordinary Filipinos across the country and abroad from more investments in social media and radio (unlike 2016), I got less! That got me laughing out loud!
Clearly, there was something wrong. With so much howling about the 7-hr “glitch” on Monday and similarities to what occurred in 2016, one can’t help but wonder whether we still have a real democracy to protect. After all these years since 1946, this year could have been different for the nation.
Don’t get me wrong. I was up against a tough and seasoned field with mass appeal. Some truly deserved reelection because of past performance. I was honored to be in their company. How I wish, though, that some underdogs, mostly newcomers, made it too that would have made the Senate more eclectic and less “sindicated.”
All we sense, after observing past e-lections, is this: there seems to be a correlation between suspected mind-conditioning survey results, and the results of e-lections. How much did it cost to “win” the vote and “win” the count? A few winners may not fit the pattern or modus operandi, perhaps as a deceptive move to mask reality, and/or unscrupulous insiders mining opportunities to gain financially from tightly contested places, be it No.1 or No. 12.
But sensing is different from “smoking gun.” Proof beyond reasonable doubt is best. Prima facie evidence, meaning “sufficient to establish a fact or raise a presumption unless disproved or rebutted,” is second best. The geniuses who know numbers, algorithms and patterns understand this. So far, I’ve come across a few who don’t know each other but share the same observation.
If the geeks reading this have prima facie evidence, then state your findings and officially file your objections before it’s too late. Better still, if there are insiders whose consciences are bothering them, take the side of truth and honor now to make things right. Open the windows wide and let the sunshine in.
This much I can say: when we begin to trash self-gratification for the common good; transcend self-interest for the national interest; and finally mature into a responsible and accountable society, then it will be the dawning of a new Philippines for all Filipinos.
If we want to put an end to negotiable elections and sub-standard choices, we must recover our values, reform our mindsets and transform our political culture. If we don’t start now, we’ll remain stuck in this black hole, where the people and democracy won’t matter, only the illusion of it for the benefit of those who manipulate us from the shadows and run merrily to the bank.
It’s time to make things right. First, reform our mindsets, behavior and culture. Second, cleanse the electoral bodies. Third, set the qualifications for trusteeship in public office. Fourth, only the government should spend exclusively for the candidates’ mass and social media requirements, and in exclusive designated areas, to ensure equal time, space and exposure. Fifth, ban foreign third parties from handling our elections. Sixth, ban the publication of mind-conditioning survey results. Seventh, strictly enforce the law.
The nation has thirsted so long for right-doing. It’s time for moral courage to take center stage.
Rafael M. Alunan served in the cabinet of President Corazon C. Aquino as Secretary of Tourism, and in the cabinet of President Fidel V. Ramos as Secretary of Interior and Local Government.