COMMENT: Now it should be told

In the United States, nationwide, it's over in 24 hours for most; for a few, in very closely contested states, the counting is over in two to three days.

Lawyer Romulo Makalintal, legal adviser of TEAM Unity, advised candidates "to accept defeat in grace". This means conceding as soon as the official count is over. But with the reports of rampant vote-buying and other election anomalies, defeat might be hard to be taken in good grace.

Overall, the election last Monday was rated by the Comelec as peaceful although some exceptions had been reported. To make defeated candidates concede "in grace", the election must be clean and honest.

Then there will be no election protests.

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KNOCKOUT

Diminutive Darlene Antonino-Custodio gave friends around her high-fives as, by the Namfrel Quick Count, she knocked out knockout artist Manny Pacquiao in the congressional fight by – in round figures– 86,000 to 50,000. But Pacquiao says the fight is not yet over. The Quick Count is not the official count.

The knockout was expected. The Antoninos have never been defeated in congressional elections since1987. They have the bailiwicks and the machinery in the first district of South Cotabato including General Santos City. Pacquiao has none.

The claim that Pacquiao was upset was very presumptuous. In fact the forecast of his camp that he would win hands down because he is a popular "hero" and moneyed was a presumption. And Pacquiao himself presumed too much by endorsing Sen. Lito Lapid for mayor of Makati City and TEAM Unity during its sortie in General Santos.

Whatever money Pacquiao and Kampi had given out did not work. That meant the voters in General Santos City and the rest of the first district knew the difference between money and their votes. They knew that Pacquiao could not represent them. One joke here is that he does not want to be called "Representative" but "Congressman"

Sad to observe, though, is that media have given Pacquiao so much importance. That is true too of his candidacy. ABS-CBN TV Patrol, for instance, reported the result of the election in the first district of South Cotabato according to Namfrel Quick Count but not that in General Santos City and in other parts of South Cotabato.

Many votes for Antonino must be in protest against President Arroyo for proposing to the first district electorate Pacquiao to be their representative in Congress – an insult. Come-backing former Mayor Lita Nunez is a collateral casualty of the protest-Pacquiao votes.

Lita had a good chance of reclaiming City Hall. But I knew of her friends and supporters who did not vote for her as mayor last Monday because she was among the endorsers of Pacquiao. She had lost her credibility.

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IS TROUBLE OVER?

If we go by pre-election and post-election interviews, Virgilio Garcillano, the Commission on Elections commissioner of "Hello, Garci!" infamy, is a big winner even if he already has conceded defeat in the first congressional district of Bukidnon. 

His primary purpose in running, he told MindaNews (May 9), was "to clear my name" –  So deep his name had been pushed into the muck by the "Hello, Garci!" tape scandal that, in his own words, when he finally told his story"nobody believed me anymore because everything I said is a lie".

Of his running, he told MindaNews, "You know, this is a win-win situation for me. If I win, well and good. … I can show to them (his critics) that I had not been doing any cheating or rigging of the elections. If I lose, that means I am not a good cheater. I am not a cheater at all, because that is always the accusation of these people".

To reiterate, his main purpose was not to win but to clear his name of cheating. Winning was incidental; losing was a concession – a necessary consequence of not cheating. His game plan was not to give out money nor do any other act of vote-buying or vote-rigging. He would either win clean or lose clean. Either way he would clear his name – a big win.

He could have won had he bought votes, his leaders said, but he "believed that people would vote for him even without the money" as they "don't need money to elect smart, credible and honest candidates". (Inquirer.net, March 16). He shooed away those who came to him, advising them not to vote for him. (MindaNews, May 11

So he lost. Did he clear his name

He intentionally did not give out money to voters because he wanted to show his honesty to clear his name. Had winning been his primary purpose, could he have resorted to vote-buying like other candidates did — as his leaders had urged him to do?

By showing his honesty in the May 14 election, does that mean he did not cheat for a fee for some candidates in past elections when he was a top official of the Commission on Elections as charged by some political leaders like Sen. Aquilino Pimentel? Does that mean he did not cheat for President Arroyo in the 2004 election as alleged?

What is the relevance of his intentionally manifested honesty in the 2007 election to the "Hello, Garci" tape scandal of the 2004 election? That is twisting too much the premise to suit a preconceived conclusion. That he appeared honest in May 2007, does it follow he had never been dishonest?

Does it follow that a saint has never committed a sin? Just to name two, Mary Magdalene and Augustine were among the greatest of sinners until they repented, reformed and became among the greatest of saints.

Garcillano had a golden chance to clear his name but he let it slip away – the series of hearings in the House of Representatives. But he evaded and parried questions like how he had evaded for months the appeals for him to come out and clear the scandal to defuse the political crisis rocking the nation. He dared his interrogators and critics to present evidence implicating him that would stand in court.

By not clearing his name at the congressional hearings, he could not clear it anywhere else. The "Hello, Garci" tape scandal, to his critics, does not allow him any benefit of the doubt. That could have contributed to his losing the election.

By the way, had he won in the first district of Bukidnon that could not have cleared his name – granting that an election could clear what he did not want to clear at the hearings of Congress. Sullied nationwide, his name could not be cleared in one district. Only by winning in a senatorial election involving a national constituency could it be done.

Garcillano's running for a seat in Congress — desperate as it appeared — to clear his name was not a win-win but a loss-loss situation.

("Comment" is Mr. Patricio P. Diaz' column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. The Titus Brandsma Media Awards recently honored Mr. Diaz with a "Lifetime Achievement Award" for his "commitment to education and public information to Mindanawons as Journalist, Educator and Peace Advocate." You can reach him at [email protected]yahoo.com.)

 

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