SOMEONE ELSE’S WINDOWS: The (c)heat is on

No amount of denials on the part of Malacanang can hide the deliberate attempts to subvert the people’s will. The grand plot hatched by Arroyo’s cabal of election officials and military brass has reared its ugly head even before the official start of the election season.

The signs are writ large across the country’s darkened political skies: militarization of Manila’s slums, fielding of bogus partylist groups whose nominees are Arroyo allies, and the barefaced partisanship of the Commission on Elections and armed forces, among others. Some military officials even admitted that they campaigned against certain partylist groups. They have the guts to admit this crime simply because they hold the guns and the law is helpless against them.

And as this piece was being written, reports came in that 380 ballot boxes stuffed with “election returns” containing the names of Team Unity candidates were recovered in Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte. A priest in Bukidnon said another 16 boxes were found in Quezon town. With these initial developments a few hours away from polling time, we can only imagine how many such boxes have been prepared by Arroyo’s operators in other parts of Mindanao, especially in areas where the military holds sway.

The administration will cheat, that’s for sure. The only question remaining is how extensive it will be. It will even go as far as manufacturing an inconceivable 12-0 outcome in favor of TU. Call me a cynic, but plain vigilance by the citizenry won’t suffice to thwart Arroyo’s grand design to cheat. Like she did in 2004, she will never hesitate to use the military and a compliant Comelec. But it would be a Pyrrhic ‘victory’ and a politically costly one.

Nonetheless, Arroyo is determined to make TU bets win, as she is fully aware that this election serves as a referendum on her government, in particular on the question of her legitimacy. It also serves as a gauge of the government’s performance in delivering social and economic benefits to the poor. A dismal performance at the polls by her handpicked senatorial candidates would be a political statement refuting the supposed economic gains which she has always bragged about. It’s like listening to the voters say “enough of your lies on the economy.”

My choices

The last time I voted was in 1988 and only because a human rights lawyer ran for councilor in Cagayan de Oro City, my previous work place. I registered as a voter here in 2003. Unfortunately, the City Comelec office erased my name along with hundreds of others from the voters list. I wonder what I will do to them if they commit the same idiocy on Monday.

Anyway, here’s the list of senatorial candidates I will vote for: Sonia Roco, Koko Pimentel, Chiz Escudero, Alan Peter Cayetano (the other Cayetano recruited by Oliver Lozano has been disqualified), Nikki Coseteng, and Antonio Trillanes IV.

I initially thought of including Kiko Pangilinan. Yet isn’t it inconsistent for a supposedly independent candidate to ask for the endorsement an administration official like Vice President Noli de Castro? Also, I don’t think he would have risked running as an ‘independent’ candidate if he did not have a megastar for a wife.

For the partylist, my choice is Suara Bangsamoro. My first choice was Bayan Muna, but it is already assured of retaining its three seats in Congress, that is, if the Comelec does not resort to dirty tricks against Arroyo’s bitterest critics.