Making sense of all that election news

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc - The Philippine Star

Just some questions, to make sense out of all the confusing election news:

• To enforce the ban, cops at checkpoints will confiscate firearms in cars of civilians, including off-duty lawmen. Even replica guns will be seized, they warn. Does that mean our kids must get Comelec exemptions to bring out their toy shooters that look real?

• Isn’t Rody Duterte’s DQ as presidential bet an open-and-shut case for the Comelec? They DQ’ed Grace Poe due to a self-admitted entry error in her 2013 certificate of candidacy to lack the required residency. No mistakes allowed, right? Duterte is substituting for Martin Diño, a Quezon City barangay officer. Diño admits to a typo in filing for mayor of Pasay, even if on the correct form for President. So what’s the Comelec waiting for?

• To simplify it, can’t Duterte just withdraw? He decided to run because the Comelec initially had accepted ex-American Poe’s COC. Now that they’ve DQ’ed her, he has no more reason to fight, right?

• Comelec chairman Andy Bautista encourages us to vote in shopping malls on Election Day. It would decongest those hot, crowded polling precincts. That also would spare us out-of-towners the expense of traveling to our place of voter registry. We’d want to vote not only for national but also local officials, whose acts, the Comelec well knows, affect us directly. So we’ll need localized ballots specific to our province, congressional district, city or municipality, and council district. Tell us, Chairman sir, how many spare ballots will you make available at the mall nearest us, for any of the 97,447 precinct clusters? Don’t mind the cost to buy the special cardboard, print, dispatch, and stack those billions of spare ballots. Nothing is more sacred than suffrage, right?

• Commissioner Rowena Guanzon says she’s a peer – not under any administrative supervision – of Chairman Andy. Humph, that should put the interloper in his place. But pray tell, who’s going to sign Madam’s next travel order plus airline fare, hotel accommodations, and per diem; or approve her requisition for staff and supplies; even monthly allowances for gasoline, representation, and sundries? Silly government rules require those pesky agency chiefs to meddle in admin matters.

• Back to the candidates, administration standard-bearer Mar Roxas asks us voters about rival Poe: “Do you want to have an American for President?” Maybe he should commission the SWS or Pulse Asia to conduct such a survey. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know how big a majority would say “yes”?

• Three non-Liberal Party senators, two of them now candidates, got the Ombudsman to charge VP Jojo Binay with P2-billion plunder. For judicial fair play, shouldn’t they also charge LP president Joseph Abaya and his candidate-party mate for P10.13-billion plunder – five times more – at the MRT-3 commuter rail alone, other railways, car plates, and drivers’ licenses not yet included? Documentary evidence readily is available on those scams (see breakdown below).

• Why did the Comelec stampede us into having our biometrics taken – on threat of “no bio-no boto” – only to issue us mere chits as proof of registry, yet easy to lose, that they say we don’t even need to bring to the polling precinct on Election Day? Why weren’t we old and new voters issued proper biometrics IDs? Is it true that the cards will be ready only by Oct. 2016, five months after the balloting? They say the biometrics finally would stop flying voters. But without those IDs, how will they tell if we’re really who we say we are?

• This one’s about the presidential election in the US. When, oh, when will they finally elect that call-him-what-you-may Donald Trump? How many of us Filipinos would want, for a change, to be the ones to tell those white supremacists, “You should learn to choose the right leader”?

* * *

Here’s the breakdown of the P10.13 billion plundered so far from the MRT-3 alone:

• P1.85 billion to LP-mates in shoddy interim maintenance firms PH Trams (Oct. 2012-Sept. 2013) and Global Epcom (Sept. 2013-July 2015);

• P402 million, possibly double, to seven subcontractors (July 2015-Jan. 2016), the biggest chunk to Global Epcom for the easiest yet hardly done job cleaning station toilets and replacing busted light bulbs;

• P3.81 billion to the secretly negotiated three-year maintenance deal starting Jan. 2016, with Korea’s Busan Transport and four unfit Filipino firms behind which the LP-mates now hide, under a contrived “emergency,” with the final contract yet undisclosed;

• P3.85 billion to the overpriced purchase of 48 light rail vehicles from China’s Dalian Corp., inapt as it doesn’t make motorized LRVs, only passenger and cargo railcars pulled by locomotives. The first two prototypes arrived engineless, thus untested for 5,000 km, in breach of contract;

• P160 million to buy a new rail grinder only last Oct. 2015. Used only once a year, it’s a wasteful duplication since the same equipment is required from Busan starting Jan. 2016; and

• P53.4 million for a seven-month upgrade of the signaling system, also contracted in Oct. 2015, although a brand-new network is supposed to be supplied under the deal with Busan et al.

Not yet included are untold billions more for the separate purchase and installing of 48 LRV traction motors from Germany, and splurged on junkets to China and Korea.

* * *

Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ, (882-AM).

Gotcha archives on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jarius-Bondoc/1376602159218459, or The STAR website http://www.philstar.com/author/Jarius%20Bondoc/GOTCHA

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