By Democrito C. Barcenas
A FEW days before the 2019 midterm elections, I wrote in this paper, predicting that the candidates of Otso Diretso would win the senatorial contests.
I must admit with candor that I was wrong, terribly wrong in my prediction. I committed the error because I did not consider the following imponderables:
I put so much faith in the power of volunteerism. Never in the history of our Republic has there been so much volunteerism during a senatorial election than in the recent one. More than 200,000 volunteers all over the country went into action for all the senatorial candidates of the Otso Diretso.
Nevertheless, the patriotic fervor and the admirable sacrifices of the volunteers were no match to the well-oiled and well-funded machinery of the party in power. Almost all resources of the government were used to crush the opposition and ensure the pet candidates of the president, Bong Go and Bato de la Rosa.
The Duterte “magic” enabled entertainers like Lito Lapid to be elected, instead of a brilliant lawyer, Bar topnotcher Florin Hilbay; a daughter of the late dictator and plunderer, Imee Marcos, against human rights lawyer Chel Diokno; and an alleged plunderer and entertainer Ramon Revilla against Sen. Bam Aquino, a summa cum laude graduate of the Ateneo de Manila University.
Because of the many shortcomings of the Duterte administration, like rising prices, extra-judicial killings, allowing Chinese intrusion into the West Philippine sea, blatant violation of pre-election promises to solve corruption, drugs and crimes, his disrespect against women, church leaders and calling the Christian God as “stupid,” I was confident that the voters in the exercise of political maturity (or sanity) will vote for the advocates of decency.
But I was mistaken. The voters chose to be dazzled by gold and propaganda.
Aside from the Duterte “magic,” the other imponderable is the Comelec magic. Why was Namfrel, the traditional poll watchdog since 1983, marginalized by the Comelec in the recent midterm elections? Why is it that until now, the Comelec could not fully explain the massive computer glitches? Are these mere products of Comelec’s incompetence or was this made with intent to cheat and hijack the 2019 midterm elections?
Why is it that after the closing of the voting centers, and the counting of votes started, there was a seven-hour lull or silence before its resumption at dawn of May 14? Is it true that before the results on the senatorial elections are transmitted to media, they would pass through a “meet-me room” for clearance? And who was the person in charge of this “meet-me room?”
Whether the Otso Diretso debacle was caused by the Duterte magic or by the Comelec magic, it does not bode well for the future of Philippine democracy which calls for checks and balances in the three branches of our government.