Comelec in disarray
JAYWALKER - Art Borjal () - April 29, 2001 - 12:00am
There is a looming crisis involving the conduct of the forthcoming May 14 elections. With the Commission on Elections commissioners fighting each other, with some commissioners showing no respect for their Comelec chairman, with so many electoral matters in total disarray, to whom will the Comelec registrars and Comelec personnel turn to? Yes, who is in command at the Comelec?
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The Comelec of old almost always had a head who represented or symbolized the institution. Ramon Felipe, Christian Monsod, Haydee Yorac – these past Comelec chairmen and the other previous heads of the electoral body almost always spoke for the Comelec, and what they said represented the consensus of the poll commission. Unfortunately, the immediate past Comelec chairman, the dynamic and independent-minded Harriet Demetriou, did not have the opportunity and luck of having members who had public welfare foremost in their mind.
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Chairman Demetriou was hobbled by the appointment of Comelec members whose vision was parochial. Or displayed quirks that verged on lunacy. Or who had no vision of institutionalized real reforms for clean and honest elections. When I asked Harriet why then President Estrada dumped into the Comelec strange personalities she could not work with, Chairman Demetriou could only mutter, "Erap knew I was and am independent-minded."
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The entire nation must now suffer for the lapses and infirmities in the composition of the Comelec. Chairman Alfredo Benipayo is actually presiding over a poll body over which he has no control. In other words, he works with a group with some members that can overturn his decisions designed to bring about clean and honest elections on May 14.
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All is not lost, however, for the all-important electoral exercise. There is People Power – and it is still possible for the citizen’s electoral arms, like the National Movement for Free Elections and the Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, to oversee the May 14 balloting, and plug the awesome deficiencies and lapses caused by the negligence and ineptitude of the present Comelec.
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Yesterday, Edu Manzano, the People Power Coalition candidate for mayor of Makati and whose group has dubbed itself as the "Makati Clean Team", dropped by the EDSA Shangri-La Tuesday Club to give top journalists and club members an idea of how the electoral campaign is going in Makati City. Edu, accompanied by council bet Mark Joseph, indicated that his ticket’s campaign – house-to-house and two rallies each day – is making vast inroads among Makati’s 360,000 voters. By the way, Edu’s vice mayoralty candidate is Dean Barbers, the son of Senator Robert Barbers and brother of Rep. Ace Barbers. And they made a full team vying for all the elective positions at stake on May 14.
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Apparently, the main issue against comebacking Jejomar ‘Jojo’ Binay centers on clean and honest governance. In their sorties, the Edu team has been showing audio-visuals of alleged "graft and greed" of the Binay dynasty. Edu is also distributing copies of a colorful and interesting magazine, Newsbreak, with the cover title of "Makati’s Binay: Can He Explain His Wealth?" The magazine is a handiwork of respected journalists like Noel Tolentino, Marites Danguilan Vitug, Chay Florentino Hofilena, and Glenda M. Gloria. Indeed, the magazine’s contents are a bombshell against Jojo Binay.
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When we asked Edu what his Makati Clean Team sees as Makati’s main problem, he cited the city’s uncontrolled growth in expenditures, its increase in deficit spending, and in its current difficulty in raising revenues. And Edu added that his platform seeks to end the "alis diyan, kami naman" mentality in what he called Makati’s "trapo politics."
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The advice given to Edu and Mark Joseph, whose biodata and academic/professional credentials are very impressive, by the EDSA Shangri-La Tuesday Club members was to see to it that there will be no dagdag-bawas perpetrated by their opponents. "You may be handsome, you may win in the balloting, but in the end, you may end up a loser because of dagdag-bawas," said a veteran journalist to Edu, as former Comelec Chairperson Harriet Demetriou nodded her head in total agreement.
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Thanks a million, and God bless the following Christian-hearted individuals who lent a helping hand to the Good Samaritan Foundation, in its effort to help save the life of seminarian Abraham "Bambet’ Mirandilla:

• William S. Tiosic, a bank executive and regular donor to the GS Foundation, P10,000 (Prudential 0525755)

• Anonymous lady of Sta. Mesa, Manila, P10,000 (BPI Family Bank 0015237)

• Gerry Rogers of Balibago, Angeles City, P1,000

• BHB of Marulas, Bulacan, P5,000 (Metrobank 0287879)

• Dr. Bella G. Espiritu of Annapolis, San Juan, Metro Manila, P2,000 (Metrobank 0261433)

• Dr. Preminda Fernando of Magallanes Village, Makati, P2,000 (Metrobank 0821267)

• Anonymous lady from White Plains, Quezon City, P5,000 (Equitable 0384144)

• "The Saints" (Beth, Connie, Ampy, Irene, Carol, Menchie and Remy) of Valle Verde 6, Pasig City, P2,500 (BPI 0170944)

• Anonymous lady doctor, a regular donor from Binondo, Manila, P2,000 (PCIB 0257540)

• JFM of Manila, P10,000 (Security Bank 0137054)

• Peter, Josie, Patsy & Inday, P2,000
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Here are some tibbits about the current senatorial campaign, as provided to me by reliable sources:

• Santanina Rasul and Homobono Adaza have overtaken Liwayway Chato in the latest poll surveys.

• Independent bet Perfecto Yasay Jr., is going strong in the Visayas and Mindanao. What was ironic was that up to the very last minute in the choice of PPC Senate bets, Jun Yasay was No. 13 in the proposed lineup.

• Among the rabid pro-Erap Senate bets, Ping Lacson is running ahead because of vast financial resources.

• Bobby Tañada is making a late but strong surge towards the Magic 13.

• Veteran political heavyweights feel that Noli de Castro, who is now No. 1 in the surveys, will eventually slide down. He reportedly does not have the machinery that will ensure the distribution of sample ballots carrying his name.
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