Whirligig

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THE SUPREME COURT seemed to be making up for lost time by releasing two controversial decisions in a single day.

The first, ordering the COMELEC to issue printed receipts on election day, has alarmed that agency to a state of near-panic. I once believed that receipts were needed; but after hearing the concerns raised by COMELEC Chairman Andres Bautista and PPCRV Chair Henrietta de Villa, especially on vote-buying, I’m convinced the on-screen post-vote report will do. The COMELEC filed its MR on Friday. It will be interesting to see how the SC responds.

The second decision declaring Grace Poe’s eligibility for the presidency has, after four days, assumed notorious proportions. The decision itself is only 47 pages long, but with all the separate opinions, a total of a thousand pages must be waded through to fully understand the controversy. I do not have the time.

I applaud the decision where it affirms Poe’s status as a natural-born Filipino and the protection it affords foundlings. I considered it grossly unfair that such children, who are disadvantaged per se by circumstances, should endure more limitations in life due solely to their vague origins. I’m glad that has been rectified.

What I’m curious about is the majority’s ratio on the residency issue. Not having fully read the decision or its attachments, I’m still fuzzy on why the nine Justices felt Poe satisfied that requirement. It seemed clear to me from the COMELEC ruling that she fell short of it by a few months. I understand that the majority considered her intention to repatriate as partial proof of her qualification, though I personally think that’s a stretch. I’d better pause, though, and reserve further comment until I read the thousand pages.

What matters now is that Grace Poe is officially a contender. What does that mean? Well, we now have to analyze her statements more carefully and check them for consistency…just as we should for all those seriously in the running.

According to the The Standard Poll conducted by Laylo Research Strategies (the first national survey done after the February debate), Poe, Jejomar Binay, and Rodrigo Duterte are in a statistical tie, with Duterte enjoying the biggest surge among the three. Roxas limps at fourth and Defensor-Santiago trails behind them all.

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A few days ago, Binay was again charged with serious crimes, this time by the COA. With a veteran’s panache, he shrugged them off and spun them as LP persecution. Poor, poor Binay. He has interesting radio and TV ads, though, mostly promising voters more money in various forms. I believe only the mercenary and/or those who refuse to face the truth will vote for this man. Let us dismiss him from this discussion.

That leaves Poe and Duterte in the lead.

Following their convoluting, helical progress has got me in a spin as well.

Poe impressed me with her performance as a senator, particularly when she investigated the MRT system and recommended graft charges against DOTC secretary Abaya, and when she led the Mamasapano inquiry.

I’m not sure, though, that the senator is the same as the presidential aspirant.

I wonder whether her faux pas during the Iglesia ni Cristo rally was her own, or fed her as reported. If the latter, I question her wisdom (and motivation) in pliantly regurgitating it to the press. Now, she struggles to prove her independence from Danding Cojuangco and the coco levy debacle even as she enjoys NPC endorsement and the use of Ramon Ang’s aircraft for her sorties. She has yet to convince me that she is more than a shadow candidate for Chiz Escudero, and that her patriotism and integrity are unassailable. The SC decision posits she made an honest mistake on her Certificate of Candidacy. I find it hard to believe that, but there is still time to uncover the truth.

As for Duterte, the flip-flopping never ends. First, he said he wouldnt, then he did run for president. First, he said he was, now he insists he won’t be a dictator. First, he boasted he did, now he finesses his claim of killing people. First, he announced “it will be bloody,” now he says he “just wants everyone to obey the law.” Following him will make you nauseous. I invite you all to click on the links so you’ll know what I mean.

There is much to pray about. Will we have an election in May? Is there a candidate good enough to be our president? Will the people’s mandate be clearly heard? I propose we seek divine intervention in all this.

I especially pray that the neophyte voters and those under 45 will understand that whomever they elect will have the power to affect our lives intimately. I ask them to critically reflect on the kind of president these candidates will become and resist voting viscerally. The woes they have escaped thus far may be all too real if they do not beware.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death. – Proverbs 14:12

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