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The return of the gods

July 25, 2007

People at the Malacanang Palace are not likely to make amends for their past election peccadilloes. The turn of events now prove that the desire of winning is even stronger than the people’s will, as losing politicians are now laying their few remaining deadly cards just to win elections.
A number of anti-Arroyo administration candidates have been declared winners like Sen. Alfredo S. Lim, Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay and his ticket, San Juan Mayor JV Ejercito.
The three mayors who form part of the metallic opposition bloc in the Metro are now sending a strong signal to President Macapagal Arroyo.
“Lintik lang ang walang ganti” goes the popular Filipino expression whenever one furiously curses someone and seeks revenge.
The runaway victory of Lim, Binay and Ejercito will again open the threshold of even more sensational public protests to traditional demonstrators.
Months from now, Recto Avenue would be available over again for anti-administration rallies now that Lim, a University alumnus, has recouped the position he had left nine years ago.
Like a Greek god from Mount Olympus, Lim abandoned his loftier position in the senate to wipeout the “rogue custodian” of his erstwhile kingdom.
The senator’s inexperienced contender Ali Atienza, son of outgoing Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, had finally conceded in May 17, two days after a fuming Lim barged into the headquarter of the latter in an attempt to foil an alleged plan to rig the ballots.
“Certainly there will be more protests in Mendiola,” said a University student.
The Chino Roces bridge (formerly known as Mendiola), including the stretch of Recto Avenue, had been declared as a ‘no rally zone’ since Lito Atienza became a staunch ally of the President. The city hall also implemented a “no permit no rally policy” and protesters were only allowed to take their fiery demonstrations in selected areas hundreds of meters away from the Malacanang Palace.
The stretch of EDSA in Quezon City was also denied of the protesters since QC Mayor Feliciano Belmote is an Arroyo ally. Other cities in Metro Manila, however, are controlled by some Arroyo kingpins.
For the first time in Philippine history, the City of Makati, the country’s business district, was turned into an official demonstration site for the opposition and anti-Arroyo activists. Because of this, Binay caught the ire of Malacanang officials. He would soon realize that he had to pay dearly for his political adventurism.
Months before the elections, the Office of the Ombudsman ordered the suspension of Binay for including “ghost employees” in the city’s pay roll. Not content with the order, Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierez issued another order suspending Binay for the same charges – grave misconduct, conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service and dishonesty – only seven days before the election.
However, Binay’s ordeal was paid off after trouncing actor-turned-politician Sen. Lito Lapit via a landslide triumph.
In the provinces, one of the most interesting election clashes was the gubernatorial race in Pampanga fought by a “Church Prince” (Fr. Eddie Panlilio), a “Jueteng Queen” (board member Lilia Pineda) and a “Quarry King” (incumbent governor Mark Lapid).
Relying on no political machinery, Fr. Panlilio, who vowed to “serve” God’s people, won by the slimmest of margins.
Popularity is not a guarantee to win elections, this was also the lesson of the fight between boxing superstar Manny Pacquiao, who recently won a multi-million dollar boxing bout against Mexican fighter Jorge Solis, and incumbent South Cotabato Rep. Darlene Antonino-Custodio, who weighs only 90 pounds.
In the senatorial race, Commission on Elections’ tally, including that of the media and Namfrel, showed that the Genuine Opposition (GO) has been dominating the 12 senate seats.
Partial and unofficial results of Namfrel as of May 19 showed that eight GO candidates were in control of the senatorial slate (former Sen. Loren Legarda, 1; Rep. Francis Escudero, 2; Sen. Panfilo Lacson, 3; Manuel Villar Jr., 5; Rep. Benigno Aquino III, 6; Rep. Peter Cayetano, 10; Navy officer Antonio Trillanes, 11; and Aquilino Pimentel III, 12) against two Team Unity bets (Sen. Edgardo Angara, 7; and Sen. Joker Arroyo, 8) and two Independents (Sen. Francis Pangilinan, 9; and former Sen. Gregorio Honasan, 9).
However, the lesser the number of election returns to be counted, the more the GO should become vigilant as some parts of Mindanao were said to be prone to all kinds of election irregularities.
Reports said that the “Oplan Mercury Rising” bared by ex-military top brass would do “miracles” in the vote-rich parts of Mindanao, to deliver an election result in favor of TU candidates.
Actions of some Comelec and Malacanang officials also raised qualms about the result of the elections.
A week after the May 14 elections, the Comelec accused some media outlets of election trending and ordered them to stop quick counts.
“The stations should not do it because it confuses our people. It shows trending and we do not allow trending because they might be reporting from places favorable to their candidates of choice,” Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos told reporters in a press briefing.
Malacanang officials dismissed the unofficial results of the quick counts as pro-opposition and maintained its seemingly ‘hypnotic enchantment’ of 12-0 victory of TU.
Police officials also declared that the election was relatively peaceful despite the fact that death toll has reached 26 as of last week.
Still most people believe that the actions of some government officials appear to be synchronized and that there’s a conspiracy going on to bring the senatorial ticket of TU to a safe level.
After this mess, a more intense acrimony threatens to challenge the position of the President; the venue will no longer be in election precincts, but on the welcoming road of C.M. Recto toward the doorsteps of Mendiola. By that time, Mayor Lim will call the shots.

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