The positives
SKETCHES - Ana Marie Pamintuan (The Philippine Star) - May 15, 2019 - 12:00am

It took me all of 11 minutes to vote last Monday, from the time I looked for the classroom where my precinct was assigned, to the moment indelible ink was daubed on my forefinger.

And the ink is truly indelible; after several applications of acetone and washing with soap, my fingernail is still stained.

It helped that I have stored my voting precinct number in my cell phone. And it helps to look on the bright side of the midterm elections, disappointing as some of the voters’ choices might be.

One noteworthy aspect is the low level of armed violence. In previous general and midterm elections, a death toll of 80 from the start of the year until election day was not unusual.

This time, the Philippine National Police recorded only about 20 election-related killings since January, with not a single case reported on election day itself. Credit goes to the PNP and the Armed Forces; they should do an even better job in 2022. Or maybe there’s a new breed of Pinoy politician that thinks committing murder over an elective post isn’t worth it.

It wasn’t smooth sailing for all; up to 600 vote counting machines malfunctioned, and that’s a lot, even in a total of 85,000. Comelec spokesman James Jimenez explained, in a nutshell, that the VCMs were overwhelmed. But didn’t the Comelec prepare for such a contingency?

The seven-hour breakdown in the Comelec transparency server also creates lingering doubts on the credibility of the vote count.

Representatives of the Comelec-accredited citizen arms, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting and the Legal Network for Truthful Elections or Lente, told The Chiefs yesterday on Cignal TV’s One News that they didn’t think the mechanical glitches affected the credibility of the results. Arwin Serrano of the PPCRV and Helen Graido of Lente had the same assessment as the Comelec – that despite the glitches, the elections in general were successful.

Eric Alvia, secretary general of the National Citizens Movement for Free Elections, had a more cautious assessment, telling us that in the absence of certain data, Namfrel could not fully vouch for the credibility of the results.

*      *      *

Millennial voters are being credited for the victory of younger candidates over the seasoned ones. The youth vote could have helped 29-year-old Vico Sotto topple the decades-old Eusebio dynasty in Pasig – contrary to the earlier surveys.

Former vice president Jejomar Binay also lost to the younger Romulo “Kid” Peña Jr. in the Makati congressional race.

And Isko Moreno, no longer 29 but still much younger than his rivals in Manila, successfully played the age card against two veterans, Joseph Estrada and Alfredo Lim.

*      *      *

The end of the Estrada and Eusebio dynasties naturally is bad news for the clans, but it’s a positive aspect of these elections: dynasties can be broken.

As of late yesterday afternoon, Erap was still refusing to concede to Isko, reportedly finding it unbelievable that he had been beaten by his vice mayor.

The political annihilation of Erap’s clan raised hopes that dynasty-building can be beaten. Although the Estrada dynasty is not unusual in this country, the clan had become a prominent example of greed for political power. Plunder convict Erap ran for mayor of Manila; his two sons with Loi and Guia ran for the Senate; his granddaughter Janella sought the mayor’s seat in San Juan; daughter Jerica by Laarni ran for councilor in Manila, and nephew ER Ejercito sought the governor’s post in Laguna. And they all lost. Only Erap’s niece Jana won as councilor in San Juan.

It helped that Isko Moreno also has a background in show biz, and that he actually rose from the gutters of Manila to attain his full potential.

And it also helped that Vico Sotto belongs to the equivalent of entertainment royalty in this country, even if he has refused to follow in their show biz footsteps. And the clan managed to secure the needed last-minute push – from President Duterte himself.

*      *      *

Hands down Duterte is the clear winner in this vote. He got all three of his handpicked candidates – the ones he actively stumped for – into the Magic 12. In a chamber known for its independent republics, Duterte is assured of the loyalty of new senators Bong Go, Bato dela Rosa and Francis Tolentino.

Several Senate candidates of his daughter Sara Duterte Carpio’s Hugpong ng Pagbabago lost, but the President had made it clear that he was endorsing mainly the three candidates. It’s also noteworthy that the man whose ouster as speaker was widely seen as the handiwork of Mayor Sara, Pantaleon Alvarez, was reelected while his nemesis and known ally of Duterte-Carpio, Antonio Floirendo Jr., lost.

The strong showing of President Duterte’s candidates and defeat of the entire Otso Diretso opposition team has stoked speculation, already rife before the elections, that his daughter might seek to replace him in 2022. Who’s the running mate? According to the rumor mill, it could be the top pick in this year’s Magic 12, Sen. Cynthia Villar.

Since fielding two women as running mates may not play well even in our supposedly matriarchal society, Villar’s son Mark, currently busy as public works secretary, could be fielded instead.

Where does this leave the No. 2 in the Magic 12, Sen. Grace Poe? And what about Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., out to give full vindication to his father and namesake by winning the presidency? Marcos’ elder sister Imee is in the Magic 12, despite honesty issues raised against her.

Considering the poll results, it looks like President Duterte has an astute appreciation of realpolitik in this country: honesty is not an issue in Philippine elections.

At this point, I’m still dwelling on the positives: my voting was glitch-free, the indelible ink remains on my finger, and some dynasties have crumbled.

2019 MIDTERM ELECTIONS VOTING PRECINCT NUMBER
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