GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/07 May) — Yesterday, with reference to presidential elections since 1930, we considered the 2016 presidential election issues as “old tale retold”; today, we will discuss this election as “the dirtiest” and the “most enigmatic”. Meanwhile, may we correct a slip of the finger in yesterday’s article: the first name of Tolstoy is “Leo”, not “Leon”.
All elections are dirty – a season of muckraking, mudslinging, exposé of sins of omission and commission, name-calling, etcetera, involving not only the candidates but also their families and kin. This is part of “democratic election”. Anyone who wants to “serve” the country through the ballots must be hard-nosed and thick-skinned enough to withstand the stench and the barbs.
This is “normal” especially among local candidates. On the national level, presidential candidates usually leave the dirty stuff to their parties and leaders. But in this 2016 election, presidential candidates don’t mind the dirt – personalan (personal insults and accusations); polluting the air lanes with expletives, curses, indecencies; vilification, etcetera — while they are supposed to focus on their programs of government.
That makes the 2016 presidential election the dirtiest.
There are five candidates. Three gentlemen – Manuel A. Roxas II, “Mar”; Jejomar Binay, “Jojo”; and, Rodrigo R. Duterte, “Rody” or “Digong”; and, two ladies – Miriam Defensor-Santiago, “Miriam”; and, Grace Poe, “Grace”.
- Digong cursed Pope Francis and regaled his audience with a “rape joke”. As guest of the Makati Business Club, he could not hold his “bad mouth”, confessed he has mistresses and told his hosts that they, too, have.
- Jojo called Digong a “killer”. Digong returned the favor, asked the voters to choose between the “killer” of people’s killers and the “thief” of people’s money.
- Digong called Mar’s economic degree from Wharton a fake. Mar dared Digong to withdraw if proven wrong. They challenged each other to a boxing or slapping bout – not dirty, but childish, ridiculous, undignified.
- Miriam labeled Digong as the “NPA candidate” and Grace as that of the “CIA”. Grace labeled Digong “a self-confessed executioner (berdugo)”; Jojo, “a thief”; and, Mar, “an insensitive nonperformer”. Not dirty – it only shows “ladies” cannot be outdone by “gentlemen”.
When we were kids, we had a game, hari-hari (king-king) played in the deep portion of a brook – in the 1930s, brooks were deep. We splashed water on the sloping bank of the brook making it slippery and chose one of us as hari of the slippery slope. We clambered the bank to pull him down as he pushed us back. If the hari was dislodged, a new one was prevented from taking over. If one succeeded as hari, the sport continued.
The five presidential candidates have been playing hari-hari.
At the start, Jojo was the hari enjoying over 40 percent voters’ preference in all poll surveys. “Mud-balls” rained on him, fashioned mainly out of his and his family’s alleged ill-gotten and unexplained wealth as investigated by the Senate and the Ombudsman.
Jojo dislodged, Grace enjoyed the same overwhelming voters’ preference. Then, she was pelted with disqualification cases for allegedly not being a natural-born Filipino citizen and being lacking the 10-year residence requirement. Jojo labeled her an OJT (on the job training) president. She was called a liar — lying in some personal records and official documents to validate her natural-born citizenship and residency claims.
Digong dislodged Grace as the hari. His “bad mouth”; his being perceived as human rights and women’s rights violator; his declared dictatorial tendency; his failure to present to the Makati Business Club a comprehensive economic development plan; his evident lack of manners, low morality and integrity; and, very recently, the exposé on his alleged ill-gotten wealth including multi-billion peso bank deposits were all thrown at him. Two days before election, Digong is still the hari.
By Duterte’s 33 percent voters’ preference – 11 percent ahead of Poe, his closest rival – he has made this 2016 election most enigmatic. Unless the poll surveys are spurious, Duterte will win with a big plurality on Monday, May 9. President Aquino cannot accept this looming inevitability. Duterte, he said, is a threat to democracy and must be stopped.
He is moving desperately to avert Duterte’s election. He has called on Duterte’s four rivals to unite, particularly Roxas and Poe. His proposal is futile. Binay and Santiago are dismissive. A Roxas-Poe merger would call for either of them to withdraw but neither will; besides, withdrawal this late will only create chaos.
Roxas has taken the quixotic task alone. He is raising the specter of martial law under Duterte with Marcos as the probable vice president. His battle cry now is: “It’s now dictatorship vs democracy.” Earlier it was, “The election is between me and Duterte.”
QUESTION: How will Aquino and Roxas stop Duterte? By foul means if the fair fails?
The post-election can be much more enigmatic.
Duterte can lose. Will his supporters accept it?
In all probability, he will win. Will he rule with iron-hand? Will his presidency really mean the death of democracy?
In all probability, the Daang Matuwid coalition led by the LP will dominate the Senate and the House. Will there be an entente between Malacañang and the Congress or a state of war?
The Catholic Church has promised critical collaboration with Duterte should he win.
God sees the truth. May He not wait long to intervene.
(Comment” is Mr. Patricio P. Diaz’ column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Mr. Diaz is the recipient of a “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Titus Brandsma for his “commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator and Peace Advocate. You may e-mail your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org)