EDITORIAL - How intelligent are some
(The Freeman) - January 31, 2016 - 9:00am

The Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino party or PMP of former president and now Manila mayor Joseph Estrada is expected to withdraw this week the presidential candidacy of a certain Mel Mendoza who, until the Commission on Elections released last week its final list of official candidates, was a virtual unknown. In fact, he remains an unknown even after his inclusion, with Estrada himself insisting he does not know the guy even existed.

It may seem a funny turn of events only because Estrada, whose sense of humor is legendary, made it appear so. But if indeed the head of the PMP does not even know Mendoza as a person and more so as the party's candidate, how come he managed to convince the Comelec to include him as a legitimate candidate? Conversely, and even more importantly, how and why did the Comelec allow itself to be convinced about Mendoza?

The need for the Comelec to come up with convincing answers to these questions is imperative in light of the fact that, in most cases, it is the Comelec alone that can act on and decide election issues. This near-exclusivity of authority opens up the poll body to tendencies for arbitrariness that can only prove ultimately unhealthy and even fatal for our shaky democracy.

The Comelec's inclusion of Mendoza becomes even more grating to the sensibilities in light of its exclusion of Augusto "Boboy" Syjuco Jr. from the presidential lineup for being a nuisance candidate. One only has to Google up Syjuco to know that he is far from being a nuisance, except perhaps to the Aquino administration and its allies against whom Syjuco has been aggressively fiscalizing.

Compared to the unknown Mendoza, Syjuco has been twice a congressman from Iloilo, aside from having held various other important government positions such as in the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority or Tesda. He was a member of the 1971 Constitutional Convention and has authored two vital laws, one on overseas voting, another on citizenship retention and reacquisition. His academic background is outstanding.

This is not to say he would have made a good president or even has a fair chance of winning if only he had been allowed to run. Rather, this is to state what appears to be very obvious - that between Mendoza and Syjuco - the choice the Comelec made clearly borders on the scandalous. How on earth did the Comelec arrive at a decision accepting Mendoza and rejecting Syjuco?

With a decision like this, the Comelec cannot blame the public if it begins to seriously doubt its ability to treat poll questions intelligently and fairly. With the integrity of poll automation remaining suspect even to this day, the country cannot afford to entrust the outcome of such a vital political exercise as electing a president in the hands of a poll body that, by its own actions, just cannot inspire even the most basic confidence.

COMELEC CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION DEVELOPMENT BANK OF THE PHILIPPINES AND THE TECHNICAL EDUCATION AND SKILLS DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY EVEN JOSEPH ESTRADA MASANG PILIPINO MEL MENDOZA MENDOZA MENDOZA AND SYJUCO SYJUCO SYJUCO JR.
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