Gov. Gwen Garcia or Gwen Garci?

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies.” – Groucho Marx

The controversy over the suspension of Cebu governor Gwen Garcia for grave abuse of authority and her subsequent defiance of the suspension order because of legal technicalities was summed up in a question by a columnist from a major daily : “Is it the rule of law or the rule of politics?”

The rule of law as defined by my online dictionary is “the restriction of the arbitrary exercise of power by subordinating it to well-defined and established laws.”

Ideally, the rule of law checks the capriciousness of politicians. In reality, politicians are good at disguising capriciousness as rule of law. And so, with as much legal piety as they can muster, both sides in the Garcia controversy cite the rule of law to back up their support for or opposition to the implementation of her suspension. 

The administration points to substance – the evidence against Garcia – to back up its suspension order. Garcia, on the other hand, points to form – the suspension came too late, 474 days after the deadline mandated by the Local Government Code – to back her defiance of the suspension order.  

Which side is with the rule of law? Both could be because politicians will never run out of arguments to support whatever side they are on. 

From the Palace –  “Our position is that this is a process that has to be followed and we are all obliged to follow the law. And you cannot choose which law you will follow and which you will not so let us all follow the law and let us not create a situation where people are encouraged to violate the law.”

From the UNA coalition –  “So it only shows that there is really a process, okay? Governor Garcia opted to file in court also. Why then, can’t they halt the suspension in the meantime? After all, they’re saying it’s not a preventive suspension, it’s a penalty.” He added, “You know, that account about me and Senator Enrile and President Erap, that’s true. And we were there primarily para makipaggitgitan na manaig ang rule of law.” 

From the Liberal Party – “If they believe in legal processes, they should have advised Gwen to leave the Capitol and let the legal process take due course because she herself has sought refuge in the legal system in filing a motion for temporary restraining order.”

At any rate, the Court of Appeals will decide which side is more right. Will it uphold substance over form or form over substance? 

Whichever way the CA decides, one party will feel aggrieved and will howl that the rule of law was sacrificed on the altar of politics. The baying will never end.  The pressing question then is, can you do anything to end this endless barking back and forth?

Yes, you can do something about it. Gwen Garcia’s suspension is in the hands of the Court of Appeals but her political future, and her allies as well, is in your hands. You are the predicate, you decide their fate. You are the sovereign, they are your subjects. Rule wisely. You can vote against Garcia and her allies if you believe an abusado should not be in public office or you can take their side if you believe that an abusado can be abused through bad form. 

As for me I’m tempted to follow the advice of Jobak, my spiritual adviser from the Cordilleras – “Just focus on Gwen Garci of Viva Hot Babes, she’s a far more interesting subject than Gwen Garcia of Cebu.” Om…

Is Aquino Just A Popular Version of Arroyo?

In an excellent piece for the Guardian newspaper, Slavoj Žižek makes reference to the work of philosopher Jean-Claude Milner who he says

proposed the notion of the “stabilising class”: not the old ruling class, but all who are committed to the stability and continuity of the existing social, economic and political order – the class of those who, even when they call for a change, do so to ensure that nothing really will change (emphasis mine).

Žižek asserts that the key to electoral success in 2012 was in a party’s ability to win over this class, which is what President Obama did by pitting his stable leadership against the radical changes proposed by the “Republican market and religious fundamentalists”.  Even now, Mitt Romney proves just how disconnected he is when he characterised as providing “gifts” to minorities the policies that Obama took to the electorate.  As for President Obama’s first term, Žižek goes on to say that

(m)any disappointed by his presidency held against him precisely the fact that the core of his much-publicised “hope” proved to be that the system can survive with modest changes (emphasis mine).

The same can be said of President Noynoy Aquino’s election in 2010. As the “hope and change” candidate of that electoral cycle, the people that elected him were merely seeking to restore the Philippines to the state his mother had left it in back in 1992. The purpose of his candidacy was to pull the country back from the brink of destruction and restore dignity and faith in the political system.

The very thesis of Corazon Aquino’s presidency was to prove that the pre-Martial Law, landed gentry could govern with self-restraint. For as long as the ruling class could manage to do so, the system of governance that she put in place would be able to accommodate the demands of the masses. For as long as there remained some modicum of decency (what Filipinos call delicadeza) from elites, any radical overhaul of the system could be avoided.

This is perhaps why President Aquino has so far shied away from pursuing any structural change in his campaign against corruption. This could be why he put off proposing any new revenue measures like the indexation of sin taxes until now. It could also be why despite promising to support reproductive health reforms he initially backed away from supporting it once in office. And it could also be why he signed into law the anti-cybercrime bill that many have derided for restricting freedom of expression, and why he is against tinkering with the constitution.

Instead of introducing change through these measures, Mr Aquino’s administration cranked up the programs and policies pursued by his predecessor, namely the conditional cash transfers program, universal kindergarten education, PhilHealth expansion, the anti-tax cheat program called RATE, business process outsourcing and tourism promotion and the euphemistic “fiscal consolidation” program. These were all begun by Mrs Arroyo whose popularity never seemed to benefit from them.

So, to mimic Žižek who rhetorically asked whether Obama was just “Bush with a human face”, can we also pose the question, “Is PNoy simply a popular version of PGMA?”

In the case of Obama, Žižek gives us reason to disagree with the assertion that he is merely Bush with a human face in that

(a)lthough his healthcare reforms were mired in so many compromises they amounted to almost nothing, the debate triggered was of huge importance. A great art of politics is to insist on a particular demand that, while thoroughly realist, feasible and legitimate, disturbs the core of the hegemonic ideology. The healthcare reforms were a step in this direction – how else to explain the panic and fury they triggered in the Republican camp?

In a previous post on this topic, I likened the debate America was having on healthcare with the one the Philippines is currently engaged in with respect to the reproductive health reform measure in Congress. Both touch on a nerve that is fundamental to the psyche of each nation with respect to the choice being considered and challenge each country’s default position with regard to the role of the state in each case.

Unlike Obama however who chose the issue of healthcare as the transformative one that would define his first term in office, despite the fact that the budget and economy were looming large as potential roadblocks to his re-election, President Aquino hasn’t really staked his presidency on any signature issue, save for impeaching Mr Corona and jailing Mrs Arroyo.

In the case of Mr Aquino, the victories over the former chief justice and ex-president respectively start to ring hollow among his supporters who don’t necessarily see the anti-corruption campaign continuing in the future under Mr Aquino’s likely successors. For them, a set of insurance policies to mitigate against any potential backsliding is required but does not seem to be forthcoming from Mr Aquino’s current leadership (or lack thereof) when it comes to the Freedom of Information bill and other similar measures.

As they see the potential dominance of the Binays, Estradas and Pacquiaos in our national political landscape for years and years to come, many are also beginning to call for the fulfilment of the anti-dynasty provisions in the constitution. Again, it does not seem as though the president will be leading on this issue. For the “will of the people” to be fulfilled, no restriction ought to be placed on their choices, he would probably say.

That so called choice presupposes however that people are indeed free to decide on their own. The framers of our present constitution perhaps knew intuitively that for this to be so, people would need to have a certain level of economic freedom and independence. Until such was achieved, they must have felt certain restrictions needed to be in place. What Milner describes as the stabilising force is nothing but a healthy middle class.

Unlike President Obama who broke with economic orthodoxy by bailing out the auto-industry and giving subsidies to clean tech companies in the hope of saving and creating jobs with living wages, President Aquino and his team feel no need to intervene in the appreciation of the peso to support our manufacturing base which is needed to grow the middle class.

For Mr Aquino, the fact that he can demonstrate the ability of the ruling class to govern with a level of integrity ought to be enough to ensure that things never go back to the way they were under Mrs Arroyo. For his fellow dynasts who supported his candidacy and form part of his ruling coalition, however, the fact that Mr Aquino thinks this way guarantees that things will indeed go back to “business as usual” when they get their turn in the driver’s seat.

Transcript of interview of BSAIII by Anthony Taberna, Umagang Kay Ganda

Transcript of interview of Senator Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III by Anthony Taberna, Umagang Kay Ganda, January 26, 2010

Transcript of Interview by Anthony Taberna at Umagang Kay Ganda

Anthony Taberna: Senator, isa po sa mga katunggali ninyo ay may commercial na natatandaan na po ng mga bata, eto po at itatanong ko sa inyo, kayo po ba ay nakaligo na sa dagat ng basura?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Hindi pa ho yata.

Anthony Taberna: Nag-pasko na ho ba kayo sa gitna ng kalsada?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Meron din ho yata nun, lalong lalo na po after Malacanang eh’, dipende ho kung saan aabutan. Pero ang nanay ko ho kasi talagang importante iyong Christmas eve na magkakasama kami, nung mag-asawa yung mga kapatid ko hanggang alas-diyes, so kadalasan ho kasama ho yung mga neighbors dun sa Times po.

Anthony Taberna: Naniniwala po ba kayo na para makatulong ang isang kandidato o kaya ay naghahangad maging Pangulo sa mga mahihirap ay kailangan ngang maging mahirap?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Palagay ko ho mas importante naranasan ninyo yung naranasan nila, pag sinasabi sa bansa natin yung mahirap, sinasabi katarungan, hindi nga nabibigyan ng adequate na abogado, hindi nasusulong yung kaso, hindi naipapakita yung kanilang punto. Kami po ay dumaan sa panahon ng martial law, yung nag-accuse po sa tatay ko si Marcos, yung may tangan po dun sa mga opisyales ng militar na humusga sa kanya si Marcos, yung magre-reveal nung kaso si Marcos, eh’ talagang talo pa po yung kangaroo court. Talagang wala ka ng kalaban-laban, marami naman po kaming dinaanan na kami rin po ay naapi, so alam po natin kung ano yung nadarama ng mga naapi, so palagay ko naman ho ayaw nating maulit yung pang-aapi kaya naman tayo ay may supisyenteng eksperyensa na para labanan yung pang-aapi.

Anthony Taberna: Pero yung pong sinasabi nilang kailangan mo munang dumaan sa pagiging gutom para malaman mo kung gaano kahirap ang maging gutom, kailangan mo munang… didiretsuhin ko na po, si Sen. Manny Villar, kailangan daw pong dumaan ka sa pagiging tindero ng hipon sa palengke para po malaman mo kung ano ang nararamdaman ng mga tindero, ganoon po ba yun?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Palagay ko naman ho lahat tayo hindi naka-inom ng lason pero alam natin na nakakamatay ang lason, wala hong may eksperiyensa na ang pag-inom po nung lason ay nabuhay, yun pong sinasabi niyang kuwento. Puwede namang dumaan ka doon mali naman yung leksiyon eh’ di wala rin hong silbi, ang point ko lang ho dito, when you are poor and you have so much of one thing for so many things, yung that is something that, yung people who have been deprived of whatever can also matter, can also be passionate about striving to changes.

Anthony Taberna: Kayo po ay may mga pinapalabas naring mga TV advertisements, magkaano na ho ang inyong ginagastos?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Kailangan ko hong i-check dun sa ating accountant, hindi ho ako binibigyan ng running total, pero malayo ho dun sa mga katunggali natin, siguradong-sigurado po yun.

Anthony Taberna: Kamusta ho ang pagdating ng tulong pinansiyal pagdating po sa politika para sa parating na halalan?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Maganda naman po, lalo na po nag-umpisa kami ng wala dahil hindi naman po ako nag-planong tumakbo, supisyente naman po para mapondohan yung ating mga sorties, yung mga political ads natin at tsaka maitulong dun sa mga volunteers natin.

Anthony Taberna: Magastos po yan ano, ang sabi po doon sa inyong TV ad, hindi po kayo magnanakaw, mayroon po ba kayong pinatatamaan doon?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Mayroon po mga naku-kuwestiyon kung saan nga po napunta yung pondo ano, more than anything nga po ang hina-highlight natin dun, tayo naman po ay nanggaling na ng Malakanyang, tayo naman po ay nanging opisyales sa gobyernong ito hindi naman natin inaabuso yung kapangyarihan na naipag-kaloob sa atin at sa pagkakataon. Noong panahon na ang nanay ko po ang Presidente at ang tawag po sa akin ng mga kabarkada ko ay “tanga”. Nung tinanong ko po paano naging “tanga” dahil naka-deans list naman ho ako kahit papaano, eh’ ang sagot ho eh’, may pagkakataon kaming kumita, tumiba-tiba eh’ hindi raw namin sinamantala kaya raw po kami “tanga’, ganoon na nga lang po eh’ di’ thank you.

Anthony Taberna: Pero dito po sa kasalukuyang bakbakan sa pagka-Pangulo, nung sinabi po ninyong hindi ako magnanakaw, magandang-maganda po ang dating nun, ang kahulugan po ba nito, yung ibang mga kandidato ay maaaring magnakaw o nagnanakaw.

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Tandaan po ninyo ang focus po namin ay ang kasalukuyang pamamahala, balikan po natin yung ZTE, yung ZTE po ayon sa board meeting ng NEDA P5 milyon dapat ang nagastusan dun sa backbone ng ZyberEd. Yun pong tinatawag ni Jun Lozada na “tong-pats” ang tinatantiya ay mga P14 billion, so P5 billion lang talaga yung proyekto yung paghahati-hatian nila P35 billion, hindi ho ba pagnanakaw yun? Yung pagde-deprive ng mga puwedeng naging eskuwelahan, ospital, kalsada, kuryente sa mamamayan. Imbes na kumuha na lamang ng kapiraso ng P5 million, naging importante yung dinagdag na times seven ho bale ang dagdag.

Anthony Taberna: kayo po ay hindi magnanakaw, kami po ay maniniwala doon sa inyong pangako na iyon, pero paano po iyung mga nakapaligid sa inyo?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Kapag yung nasa itaas po ay magli-lead by example, kakabahan naman po maski papaano yung nasa ibaba at mayroon kayong moral superiority para habulin lahat ng hindi susunod. Pero minumungkahi po namin na hindi lamang lalabanan ang korapsiyon, pero bigyan naman natin ng pagkakataon yung matino na manatiling matino, Presidente po ng Republika P50,000 po ang suweldo, gross, ang pinapangasiwaang budget ay P1.5 trillion, baka mayroong matukso ho diyan kapag hindi maisagot ho yung tuition ng anak. Kailangan pong gayahin natin tulad ng Singapore na kung saan mataas-taas yung porsiyento ng private sector counterpart, sa Pilipinas po entry level pantay, pag na-promote na yung private sector ang layo na po ng agwat, so paano kapag ganoon na kataas yung super levy, sa ma mababa, mas mababa po talaga, medaling tuksuhin, kaya kailangan din po nating itaas ang antas na yun para makayanang labanan yung tukso.

Anthony Taberna: Lahat po ng mga kasama ninyo ngayon, mga sumusuporta, mga pulitiko na lumapit po sa inyo at sumakay sa Liberal Party ay dumaan po sa pagsala para matiyak na, oh’ eto ay talagang hindi rin mangnanakaw.

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: As much as possible po, pero pati naman pos a Bibliya ano, si Kristo nagsalita ng “those who have no sin cast the first stone”, sasabihin ko ho ba kami lahat dito ay Santo maski paanong husgahan, baka mayroon din yung may kasalanan, pero ang point ho nun, nanigurado kami na walang major na kasalanan. Wala naman pong perpektong tao.

Anthony Taberna: Nangangamba po ang iba Senator na baka po kayo ay diktahan ng civil society na nag-upo rin noon kay Pangulong Arroyo matapos maalis si Erap pero iniwanan din po lumaon ito pong si Pangulong Arroyo, hindi daw po kaya ganito rin ang sapitin ninyo sa kanilang mga kamay?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Dapat po kasi open, mayroon akong idea, mayroong idea yung aking katunggali na baka pinagsama natin yan mas maganda yung produkto, at same time sa dulo po nito yung Pangulo ang may responsibilidad sa lahat ng desisyon na gagawin niya, so ako naman po kapag naharap ko yung magulang ko masabi ko sa kanilang tama yung ginawa ko, para masabi ko ho yun, hindi ako puwedeng diktahan nino man, pati nanay ko po. With all due respect to my mother may mga panahon na nagtalo din po kami sa ibang desisyon, at one point in time siya ho ay tutol sa death penalty, ako ho ay may pananaw na yung talagang paulit-ulit na heinous crimes ang ginagamit ay may karapatan ang lipunan na proteksiyunan ang sarili niya, later on medyo nag-rethink nitong posisyon na ito, nakita ko yung justice system natin na kung saan yung public attorney’s office sobrang dami ng kasong hinahawakan, hindi nga po nabibigyan ng kaukulang pansin na masinsinan yung mga naaakusahan ng krimen, so hangga’t hindi natin maiaayos yun, masigurado na mapangalagaan yung mga karapatan nila. Baka nga may mapapahamak pag mayroon tayong death penalty na hindi naman pala dapat parusahan.

Anthony Taberna: So kayo po ba ay papayag na madiktahan ng sinoman sa inyo pong pagpapasiya?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Ang reputasyon ko ho eh’ matigas ang ulo, so yun bang pati nung nasa House, dun sa mga kasamahan ko doon na nakasabay ko doon, mayroong sinasabi na ito ay majority decision, ako po ay hindi automatic na sumasama dun sa majority decision, eto ba kaya kong panindigan na desisyon o hindi, kapag hindi ko kayang panindigan hindi ho ako sumasama sa kanila.

Anthony Taberna: Tutukuyin ko na po, isa sa grupo na malapit na malapit sa inyo ngayon ay yung kontrobersiyal na law firm na kung tawagin ay The Firm, ito po ay malaking papel sa administrasyong Arroyo mula po nung Day 1 at in fact naging abogado pa po sila sa marami ilang kaso ng katiwalian ng administrasyon ng Pangulong Arroyo si First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, ano po ang sagot ninyo doon sa mga obserbasyon nab aka kayo ay paikutan lamang ng mga ito?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Kung puwede ho nilang subukan, pero isa lang po ang kasama namin dun sa The Firm, si Nonong Cruz, dating kalihim ng tanggulang pambansa, yung lahat ng kasama ko ngayon, siguro kung kakilala nila ako, isama na ninyo yung mga ka-klase ko nung grade school, high school at college. Hindi ako puwedeng dinadala kung saan saan lang, sa palagay ko hindi tama, yung Lolo ko po nung high school ako ang sabi ay talagang napaka-importante na may barkada ka pero huwag kang nagpapadala, huwag kang kaladkarin, kailangan ikaw ang lider. Paulit-ulit ho sila ng ganoon, so again, lahat ho ng desisyon ko at the end of the day, kailangan kaya kong panindigan.

Anthony Taberna: Kagabi po medyo napuyat kayo sa pagtalakay sa C-5 controversy, senator isang diretsang tanong, puwede po ba kayong mag-inhibit na lamang doon po sa pagsisiyasat na ito para po mawala na yung pangangatwiran na kayo ay namumulitika lamang ditto sa isyu laban kay Sen. Villar?

Sen. Noynoy Aquino: Ang problema ho yung numero namin sa Senado, kasi ho kami ay 23 total, isa yung naka-kulong, 11-11 na nga ho ang puwedeng mangyari, walang desisyon, kailangan ma-resolve yung issue, kung hindi na ho kailangan yung partisipasyon ko pero maaaring na-resolve yung issue one way or the other baka puwede po nating pag-isipan yan. Pero uulitin ko po kung namumulitika ako ho dito, si Senator Alan Cayetano at si Gilbert Remulla mismo ang magpapatunay na umpisa-umpisa pa lamang ho at hanggang sa mga araw na ito, nakiki-usap ako kay Senator Villar, pumunta ka dito kung talagang wala kang kasalanan mapapakita mo yan, mabigyan ka ng karapatan mo na magkaroon ng proseso, kung saan puwede mong ipagtanggol yung sarili mo.

[Archived from the official campaign web site of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III]

Estrada scolds Maceda; LP warns of ‘Arroyo option’

Estrada scolds Maceda; LP warns of ‘Arroyo option’
By Philip Tubeza, Christian V. Esguerra
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Be careful what you wish for.

Former President Joseph Estrada Thursday said he scolded former Sen. Ernesto Maceda for coming up with that “kalokohan (nonsense)”.

Maceda, Estrada’s campaign manager, said on Tuesday that supporting Estrada may be the Arroyo administration’s “only option” if it wants to prevent an Aquino victory.

He came out with the scenario to explain how Estrada could still overtake Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, a consistent front-runner in the major surveys of presidential contenders.

Estrada would be sinking his own ship if he’s open to an alliance with the Arroyo administration just to boost his chances against the Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer.

LP director general Chito Gascon Thursday had this bit of advice for Estrada, in effect telling the 73-year-old opposition leader to junk the Maceda suggestion.

Gascon said the widespread unpopularity of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo would spell doom for any presidential candidate she would support.

He cited as an example the falling survey numbers of Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Senator Manuel Villar, who had been rumored early in the campaign season to be Ms Arroyo’s “secret candidate” and not administration candidate Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro. The Villar and Arroyo camps had denied forging an alliance.

Unrepentant regime

“Now that a clear win by Senator Noy is imminent, it could very well be logical for this unrepentant regime to swing their support to former President Estrada in an anybody-but-Noynoy game plan,” Gascon said in a statement.

“But we all know that an Arroyo endorsement will only bring down Estrada and help the chances of Sen. Villar instead, so I don’t think this last card, a Plan C, is going to play out on May 10,” he said.


In an Inquirer interview, an angry Estrada said he immediately confronted Maceda after reading about the latter’s statement.

“How can that be! It irritates me just to hear that name (of the President),” Estrada said in Filipino.

“She grabbed power and then threw me in jail,” said Estrada, who was ousted in a people power uprising in 2001, detained for six years, and convicted of plunder in 2007. His successor, Ms Arroyo, granted him pardon a month after his conviction.

Estrada said Maceda issued the statement without his clearance, and that his chief campaigner probably thought he could do that because “he is older than me.”

The day the story came out, text messages began circulating claiming that Estrada—not Villar—was now Malacañang’s “pet” in the presidential derby. Estrada dismissed these as black propaganda.

‘She almost ruined my life’

“Maybe it’s Maceda-Arroyo,” he said, and not really “Villarroyo,” the buzzword coined by critics to describe the alleged Villar-Arroyo partnership.

Estrada said it would be “impossible” for him to accept help from someone whom he had been denouncing in his campaign speeches as one of the conspirators behind his ouster from Malacañang.

“I might as well lose than join her. She almost ruined my life,” he said.

Chaos hatched to disrupt May 10 polls – Binay

Chaos hatched to disrupt May 10 polls – Binay
By Jose Rodel Clapano
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay claimed yesterday that Malacañang has hatched a scenario of chaos to disrupt the May 10 elections and extend President Arroyo’s hold on power.

Binay, running mate of Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino presidential bet former President Joseph Estrada, said the scenario is part of a “grand scheme” that is certain to be exploited by the Arroyo administration.

“There is an engineered chaos. Nothing happens by accident under the Arroyo administration. These very disturbing developments point to a carefully laid out plan to create chaos at the polls on May 10 that could lead to a failure of elections,” Binay said.

Binay said the widespread systemic failure of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines on Monday, the refusal of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to do a parallel manual count sooner than two weeks, and the ruling against pre-proclamation protests are all part of the groundwork for a general failure of elections.

He said he would personally lead street protests to defend democracy.

“I urge other political parties to set aside politics and put up a common front. Those who are behind this apparent grand scheme might not realize that they are playing a most dangerous game,” Binay said.

Meantime, an umbrella organization of some 21 civil society groups warned the Comelec of a possible no-proclamation scenario if the poll body insists on deactivating the digital signature feature of the PCOS machines.

The Convenors of the Compact for Peaceful and Democratic Elections said Republic Act 8436 or the Automated Election System (AES) Law as amended by RA 9369 specifically states that election returns should be digitally signed in order to be regarded as official results. – With Michael Punongbayan

Comelec scrambles to fix glitch before polls

Comelec scrambles to fix glitch before polls
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines (AP) – Election officials scrambled Thursday to fix a computer glitch that sparked fears of a chaotic failure of the country’s first automated presidential polls and calls to postpone next week’s vote.

The Commission on Elections discovered a problem with the memory cards of the optical counting machines during final tests early this week, prompting it to recall the cards in about 76,000 machines already deployed in as many precincts across the archipelago.

With just days before 50 million Filipino voters elect a new president, vice president and officials to fill nearly 18,000 national and local posts, the last-minute glitch fed suspicions of possible vote-rigging amid scattered political violence that has claimed dozens of lives.

Elections officials and Venezuela-based Smartmatic, the private consortium that won a 7.2 billion peso ($160 million) contract to supply the counting machines, said they were dealing with the logistical nightmare amid a massive effort to correct the defects in the memory cards and attach them back to the machines.

They assured Filipinos that Monday’s elections will proceed as scheduled, dispelling rumors, which spread through cell phone text messages, that the polls will be postponed for at least two weeks.

Authorities began to test the repaired machines in three cities in metropolitan Manila on Thursday to determine if they work. Tests in one voting center in Makati city showed the machines were “100 percent” accurate, said Cesar Flores, Smartmatic’s Asia-Pacific regional head.

“It appears that our prayers are being answered,” Commission on Elections Chairman Jose Melo told a news conference.

Flores said he was ready to face a possible government investigation but said his company’s main focus was to ensure successful polls. He refused to say how costly the mistake was for Smartmatic.

“We are not counting money now, we have an election to save,” Flores said. “It was a stupid mistake with huge consequences.”

Opposition Sen. Benigno Aquino III, who has topped election surveys, strongly objected to any election postponement, saying a delay could result in “a potentially disastrous crisis of a leadership vacuum” when President Arroyo steps down on June 30.

Aquino blasted election officials for mishandling the vote-count automation and suggested they should resign. “Their efforts have so far only yielded disastrous results,” he told reporters.

Ousted President Joseph Estrada, who has placed second in the surveys, backed a postponement but said it should not be long enough to allow Arroyo, his political nemesis, to possibly plot to extend her tumultuous term.

Under the constitution, Arroyo must hand over the presidency because of term limits, and her aides have repeatedly said she would do so.

Smartmatic told the election commission that it can fix the problem, test the new memory cards and deliver the machines all over the country in time for the vote, Elections Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said.

Private corporations led by beverage giant San Miguel Corp. lent at least 24 helicopters and planes. Air force helicopters also were on standby to help, Larrazabal said.

Flores said the problem was traced to “human error” and was not an act of sabotage. He even offered to deposit his passport with election officials to guarantee he would not flee the country if the elections fail.

The problem intensified calls by many groups for a manual count of votes for at least five top posts, including president, vice president, House members, governors and mayors. The commission last week rejected the proposal.

Villar, Noynoy warn vs delaying polls

Villar, Noynoy warn vs delaying polls

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential rivals Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III of the Liberal Party and Sen. Manny Villar of the Nacionalista Party on Wednesday opposed proposals to postpone the May 10 polls, saying it may lead to President Gloria Arroyo extending her stay in power or a leadership vacuum.

Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard-bearer Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro also opposed a postponement, calling it “irresponsible” since it had no legal basis.

At least three presidential candidates backed a proposal to postpone the elections despite fears that it may lead to a failure to proclaim a new president before the end of Arroyo’s term on June 30.

Presidential bets Joseph Estrada, Eddie Villanueva and Nick Perlas supported the proposal of Atty. Romulo Macalintal, President Arroyo’s election lawyer, to postpone elections for 2 weeks to allow the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to fix glitches in the automation process.

Villanueva and Perlas said delaying the elections for 2 weeks is necessary to prevent the possible outbreak of violence if there is widespread failure of the May 10 polls.

Villar fears GMA term extension

In a statement, Villar said postponing the elections “could result in bigger problems, including a possible term extension of President Arroyo.” He said the people “cannot allow any term extension for the President.”

If the elections are deferred by 2 weeks as proposed by Arroyo’s election lawyer, Villar warned that the Philippines may plunge into a “political turmoil.”

“Nahihirapan na po ang mga kandidato. Talagang hinihintay na lamang nila ang election. Kung i-extend naman iyan, ewan ko kung papaano tatanggapin ng local officials,” he said in a phone interview with DYHP-Cebu of the Radio Mindanao Network.

“While I hope things will go well with the automated elections, we cannot help but feel anxious about the electoral exercise given the ways things are now unfolding,” Villar said.

Noynoy: No to postponement

Aquino, who is leading in the presidential surveys, on Wednesday pushed for a manual count of the elections and insisted that the voting push through on Monday.

“Elections must push through on Monday, May 10, as mandated by law. Our people want a new leadership,” he said.

“The risk of elections not pushing through at all becomes much greater with a postponement.  It is our sacred obligation to say ‘NO’ to these proposals to postpone elections to a later date. Each postponement increases the possibility of yet another postponement, bringing us closer to a potentially disastrous crisis of a leadership vacuum on June 30,” Aquino added.

The Liberal Party demanded the Comelec begin preparations for a full manual count, which, it believes, can prevent a total failure of the elections.

“We demand that Comelec begin preparations for a full manual count and present their contingency plan to the public as soon as possible. Under the law, this is allowed.  We know that they have made initial preparations for a manual count.  Thus, there should be no obstacle to prevent elections from taking place this Monday,” Aquino said.

“What is important is the integrity of the process and its final outcome. If full manual counting is the practical solution, then let us do it, no matter how long it takes to finish,” he added.

Erap says ‘why not’?

For his part, Estrada said he is amenable to a 10-15 day delay but only if the Comelec reverts to a manual count of the elections.

“If there will be a delay, it should only be to put the manual counting into effect. If there will be a delay of 10-15 days but this will ensure clean and reliable elections, then why not? Anyway, within 15 days that is still within Arroyo’s term and the only fear of the people is that her term will not be extended. So if the postponement is just another 10 – 15 days but it will decrease the risks of fraud and failure of elections, then we should consider it,” he said in a statement.

For his part, Teodoro said postponing the election would be the “height of irresponsibility” in the part of Comelec.

Teodoro urged Comelec to resolve the problems in poll automation. He said the Comelec was given enough time to prepare a contingency plan for manual elections.

Calls for a delay of the nationwide elections mounted Tuesday after Comelec and poll machine supplier Smartmatic-TIM admitted that faulty software in memory cards for more than 76,000 vote counting machines would have to be replaced.

Palace: Don’t blame us

A Malacañang spokesman on Wednesday said he favored a postponement of the election but backtracked after Comelec said the memory cards will be replaced in time and the election will be able to go ahead.

Deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar also said the Palace should not be dragged into the problems with the vote-counting machines.

He said critics should “remember that the Comelec is a constitutional body wherein Malacañang cannot interfere and does not interfere in its decisions and operations.”

“Those critics should look at their books and study the Constitution before casting their blame on the Palace. We have been consistent in our support and advocacy for fair, free, orderly and credible elections,” Olivar said.

Postponement allowed only for local polls?

A noted constitutionalist and an administration senator, meanwhile, opposed the suggestion to delay the May 10 polls.

Lawyer Joaquin Bernas, one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution, said the Omnibus Election Code does not have a provision that allows a delay in the national election.

“Section 5 of the Omnibus Election Code states that Comelec is authorized to postpone in any local subdivision. There’s nothing in the law about national election. It would seem the power is only in local elections,” he said.

He said that while the issue can be brought before the Supreme Court, many people may oppose the idea of a delayed election because they distrust the Arroyo administration. “It will probably increase their distrust in the system,” he said.

Postponement and failure

Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, meanwhile, said that while the Omnibus Election Code does not allow postponement of elections nationwide, it allows the Comelec to declare a failure of elections nationwide.

“There is a big difference between postponement of elections and declaration of failure of elections.  In the case of postponement, the law allows it only in a political subdivision, such as a town or a province.  In the case of failure of elections, the law allows it nationwide,” she told reporters.

Santiago also said that unlike postponement of elections, the provision on failure of election allows the Comelec to call for a new election within 30 days after the failure of elections.

“If we proceed with the elections as scheduled, in case there is serious cause, the Comelec can still declare a failure of elections.  The causes for the declaration of a failure of election may occur before, or after, the casting of votes or on election day,” she said. — with reports from Carmela Fonbuena,; Ces Drilon, Jay Ruiz, Sheryll Mundo, Lynda Jumilla, ABS-CBN News

'Don't be surprised if frontrunner loses'

‘Don’t be surprised if frontrunner loses’
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The race for the presidency is still wide open, Malacañang said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters, Press Undersecretary Rogelio Peyuan said Filipinos must not be surprised if the winner is not among the frontrunners in the surveys.

“Elections give us a lot of surprises,” he said.

Peyuan said figures from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) showed some 50 million registered voters nationwide, out of a population of about 92 to 94 million.

“It would be very safe for each and everyone to think and to always keep in mind that if there are about 50 million voters and 10 or 11 percent of them do not vote, as we experienced in the past, it would be hard for us to have faith in the surveys that have 900 respondents in Luzon, 600 in the Visayas and maybe another 600 in Mindanao. That would be very, very unfair to even presume and assume that that (surveys) is the sentiment of the people,” he said.

Peyuan cited the case of Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard-bearer Gilbert Teodoro Jr., who has not fared well in the surveys.

Nevertheless, he won the endorsement of Pastor Apollo Quiboloy of the Kingdom of Christ the Name Above Every Name, which has five to six million followers nationwide.

Peyuan said supporters have heavy turnouts during the campaign sorties of the other presidential candidates.

Other groups with substantial following may announce their preferred candidates before May 10, he added.

Enrile: Polls would be unpredictable

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile said the elections would be unpredictable despite the high survey ratings of Liberal Party presidential candidate Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III and his running mate, Sen. Manuel Roxas II.

“It can go either way,” he said. “Well, as of now, Noynoy is leading the surveys. But there are issues raised against one another, and this would affect the minds of our people.”

“In the last hour, they will make up their minds. Until that point is reached, it would be fair and square. You cannot be sure of the outcome of the election,” he said.

“You have an undecided number of about 10 percent at this point that can swing either way,” he added. “If the turnout of the election is 70 percent, then you have around 3.5 million undecided voters.”

Enrile, who is running for re-election under the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino, said the Iglesia ni Cristo’s possible endorsement of Aquino would give the him a wider lead.

However, that will not change the position of their standard bearer, former President Joseph Estrada in relation to Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Sen. Manuel Villar Jr.

Enrile said the INC has a command vote of three to four million, which could help a candidate win an election, he added.

He was not aware as to how many voters Quiboloy could deliver, but that too could change, he added.

Based on experience, there could still be shifting of support in favor of one or the other presidential candidates, he said.

Enrile dismissed speculations of a failure of elections or the need for snap polls.

“I do not know why are they so preoccupied with the so-called failure of election,” he said.

“I have no fear that the election will fail. I don’t think it will.”

Santiago cautions Aquino vs people power

Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago cautioned Aquino yesterday against his statement that the Filipino people might resort to people power if the results of the elections will not be acceptable to them.

“That is an extremely dangerous statement, because if that is the case that Mr. Aquino might be tempted to lead a people power demonstration if he does not win, then all other presidentiables who have reasonable chances of winning such as those who place no. 2 or no. 3 maybe up to no. 4 in the surveys might also be tempted to make the same threat so we will have a culture of resistance or disobedience to authorities,” she said.

Santiago said all presidential candidates must respect the results of the elections.

“There should always be caveat that the results of the elections should be accepted as regular because that is the presumption in the rules of court unless proven otherwise,” she said.

Santiago said that when she lost the presidency to retired Gen. Fidel Ramos in 1992, she filed an election protest.

“So in my case in 1992 I deliberately, voluntarily and spontaneously refrained from calling a people power,” she said.

“If you remember I was a very close number two. The president was not elected by a majority vote, and in fact he got only less than 30 percent of the vote and his margin over me was less than one million,” she said.

“But all the same I took the legal route. I filed an election protest with the Presidential Electoral Tribunal. I did not call on the young people who are my avid supporters at that time to spill out into the streets because I felt extremely responsible for their lives and their safety,” she added.

Santiago asked presidential candidates not to raise the specter of massive civil unrest.

“But if they are not lucky to be proclaimed as president notwithstanding their own beliefs on their invincibility in the election process then they should go to court like what I did,” she said. – Paolo Romero, Aurea Calica and Christina Mendez

Estrada is Arroyo’s last card vs Aquino–Maceda

Estrada is Arroyo’s last card vs Aquino–Maceda
By Norman Bordadora, Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Supporting former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada may be the only remaining option for the Arroyo administration if it wants to prevent Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III from winning next week’s presidential elections, according to Estrada’s campaign manager.

“If they don’t like Noynoy to win, whether they talk to us or not, it’s normal or it’s not surprising if they swing their support to us to try to block the victory of Noynoy,” former Sen. Ernesto Maceda told reporters on Monday.

“That’s how we will overtake (Noynoy) if and when all of these people who don’t like Noynoy and who feel that (administration bet Gilbert) Teodoro or (Nacionalista Party candidate Sen. Manuel) Villar or (Sen. Richard) Gordon have no chance of winning,” Maceda added.

Maceda painted this scenario as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Tuesday ruled with finality that Estrada—who was ousted in 2001, convicted of plunder in 2007 and then granted presidential pardon that same year—could seek reelection.

The Comelec upheld its Jan. 20 ruling and dismissed the motion for reconsideration filed by lawyer Evillo Pormento, who had sought Estrada’s disqualification.

The poll body maintained that Estrada, 73, was not covered by the constitutional ban on the reelection of chief executives because he was not a sitting president.

Pormento failed to present any new argument that would make the body change its mind, the Comelec said Tuesday.

An elated Estrada said the Comelec decision would “enhance my vote-getting power” and improve his chances of winning.

‘People can think again’

Those who went for other candidates in the past presidential surveys may now reconsider their choices, Estrada said.

“The black propaganda against me (was) that I will be disqualified,” Estrada added. “People can think again.”

Maceda also presented the results of a survey conducted from April 23 to 25 showing Estrada already at solo second with 25 percent below Aquino’s 35 percent, with Villar falling to third with 17 percent.

Teodoro landed fourth with 9 percent in the survey commissioned by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, a reelectionist under Estrada’s party Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino.

In the latest Pulse Asia survey conducted also from April 23 to 25, Aquino also led the pack with 39 percent, while Estrada and Villar tied for second place at 20 percent.

“I think their only option is to swing their support to us to block the victory of Noynoy,” Maceda said.

Last person

But Estrada answered no when asked if there had been feelers from the Arroyo administration for a possible alliance in the run-up to the May 10 elections.

“I believe that I’d be the last person they’d talk to. Because, you know, they grabbed power from me and then they put me behind bars,” Estrada said.

The former leader said he didn’t have any debt of gratitude to the administration even with the pardon granted by Ms Arroyo.

“She’s the one who has a debt of gratitude. She was the one who sat (as President). She even did so for (almost) 10 years,” Estrada said.

Estrada had spent the most part of his campaign projecting himself as the only true opposition candidate.

JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA: I want to finish my plans for the poor

JOSEPH EJERCITO ESTRADA: I want to finish my plans for the poor
By Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer

(Editor’s Note: The presidential profiles will be running in no particular order but as the stories come in from our reporters in the field.)

(Fifth of a series)

MANILA, Philippines—On a humid night in Tuguegarao City, where the earlier daytime temperature reportedly hit a sweltering 39 degrees Celsius, a crowd of around 5,000 came to see him and didn’t seem to mind the heat building up inside the Cagayan Sports Complex.

At 73 and even with a drawl, former President Joseph Estrada could still make multitudes hang on to his every word—whether it leads to a litany over what he maintained to be his “unlawful” ouster and conviction for plunder, or to one of his so-called “Eraptions.”

That night, he deftly combined both: “My beloved mother once told me, ‘what’s with you, Joseph? You didn’t finish your studies. You didn’t finish your presidency. Now, even your (jail) sentence, you didn’t finish.’”

The audience composed mostly of farmers, workers and vendors lapped it all up, their hearty laughter turning into cheers and chants of “Erap! Erap! Erap!”

But after delivering the punch line to full effect, Estrada shifted moods and made the follow-through in all earnest: “And so I promised her that time that I will finish the programs that I started for the Filipino masses.”

The scene had become a hallmark of almost every Estrada sortie since the former multi-awarded actor embarked on what could be his ultimate sequel: To regain the presidency after a disgraceful fall from power.

In between wisecracks, the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) standard-bearer would remind listeners that people didn’t have to form long lines for rations of rice during his abbreviated tenure in Malacañang, unlike during that of his predecessor Fidel V. Ramos or his successor Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“A hungry stomach knows no law,” he said, a line he always uses as a prelude to his food security program, which he said would be anchored on finally bringing peace to Mindanao and turning the fertile but strife-torn region into the country’s food basket.
He also recalled how the Armed Forces during his presidency overran the camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mindanao—only for the Arroyo administration to return the “liberated” areas to the secessionist group.

During a PMP proclamation rally at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo in February, Estrada indicated that, should negotiations once more fail, he would again wage an all-out war against the MILF.

The communist New People’s Army, Estrada said, would be his next target.

“The country is already very small but still you want to divide it,” Estrada said, addressing the remark to the rebels.

Simple plan

The Estrada plan is simple: Eliminate the insurgency, enforce peace and order, and, in the process, promote agriculture, create jobs, and put food on every table.

The speech is not complete without a scathing review of the Arroyo administration which was installed by the people power revolt that kicked him out of Malacañang in 2001.

“We are now No. 1 in corruption,” he said. “It’s not the opposition that’s saying this. It’s foreign groups.”

Estrada said the Arroyo administration scrutinized the contracts entered into by his administration shortly after his ouster and that it eventually “found nothing.”

“There was no fertilizer fund scam,” Estrada said, referring to the P728-million scheme that allegedly diverted agriculture funds to the Arroyo campaign in the 2004 elections.

Detained for six years mostly under house arrest, convicted of plunder in 2007, and then granted presidential pardon that same year, Estrada insisted that he never stole a single centavo from the public coffers.

“(Then Justice) Secretary Hernando Perez offered to let me go to a country of my choice in exchange for my resignation (from the presidency) in writing. No charges would be filed against me and I can bring anything I want with me,” Estrada said.

He would have readily accepted the offer if he really stole hundreds of millions from the government, he stressed.

“I told him (Perez) ‘I will not do that even if you throw me in jail.’ Ayun, kinulong nga ako (Well, they did lock me up)!” Estrada said, drawing more laughter from the crowd.

After his legal debacle, Estrada had supposedly agreed to never again run for public office as a condition for his pardon—or at least this was how Malacañang put it.

“(He) has publicly committed to no longer seek any elective position or office,” according to the pardon document issued by Ms Arroyo in October 2007.

Thanksgiving tour

But a continuing show of massive support from people on the ground convinced Estrada that he’s still good for a take two, said his campaign manager, former Senate President Ernesto Maceda.

Estrada’s decision to again enter the presidential race was also due to the failure of the different opposition groups to come up with a common candidate.

“Around October last year, when it was clear the opposition would not unite,” Estrada said, when asked when did he arrive at a decision to seek the presidency one more time.

Maceda maintained that Estrada had never categorically stated in his public remarks during his incarceration and after receiving pardon that he would no longer stand for election.

The huge crowds who turned up during Estrada’s nationwide Lakbay Pasasalamat—or the “Thanksgiving Tour” he made well before the start of the campaign period—also persuaded him to run again, Maceda said.

In that tour, Maceda said, Estrada sensed he had received “a clear draft” from Filipinos for him to return to Malacañang.

“There was this town hall meeting in Pandi, Bulacan, where Estrada gave the names of the opposition’s (possible unity candidate). He mentioned (Manuel) Villar, Loren (Legarda) and Mar (Roxas). Noynoy (Aquino) was still not in the picture,” Maceda said.

“The people said they didn’t want any of those. They said ‘we want you. Erap pa rin kami (We’re still for Erap),’” he added.

‘Congressmen are expensive’

In a recent Inquirer interview, Estrada said he won the presidency in 1998 because he went directly to the people.

“I don’t rely on (political) leaders. Congressmen are too expensive,” he said, noting that then administration candidate Jose de Venecia Jr. was the one who “had all the congressmen.”

PMP campaign coordinator and former print reporter Angel Gonong said the party’s advance parties contact local officials only to secure permits for rallies and motorcades. These officials don’t have a role in mobilizing people to attend Estrada’s rally.

“Walang hakot (We don’t haul people to the rallies),” Gonong said. “We just inform the people that Erap would be in town and the people go out in the streets.”

Local PMP candidates get to meet Estrada but they don’t receive campaign funds, Gonong said. “They just want Erap’s endorsement.”

Political science professor Bobby Tuazon, policy director of the University of the Philippines-based Center for People Empowerment and Governance, offered an explanation for Estrada’s seemingly undiminished charisma despite his fall from power.

“Many of our countrymen still go for those who don’t seem intelligent. They want somebody they can identify with,” Tuazon told the Inquirer. “Many of them have been disappointed by brilliant leaders, like bar topnotchers.”

Always the underdog

In the movies, Estrada often played the meek underdog, one comically struggling with his English who would end up playing the tough street hero for his poor neighborhood or damsel in distress.

Off-screen, however, Estrada counts among his friends astute politicians, business leaders, and leading academics.

International statesman and former Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim addresses Estrada as his “brother.” In a recent visit to Manila, Anwar touched base only with Estrada and Sen. Benigno Aquino III, now one of his rivals for the presidency.

“I admire him,” Anwar told reporters after having brunch with Estrada at the swank Manila Polo Club in Makati City.

“He’s so honest,” Anwar said, laughing. During brunch, he said, Estrada conceded in jest that compared to himself, his Malaysian guest knew more about Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal.

Former Bataan Rep. Felicito Payumo, whom Estrada then picked to head the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), said members of the Estrada Cabinet have remained close to the former President after his ouster because “they were able to (keep) their reputations intact.”

Above average

Though he was Estrada’s first ever appointee, Payumo now supports Aquino’s candidacy as a member of the Liberal Party.

“In Subic, Estrada didn’t call me to let in a smuggled shipment of rice,” Payumo said, recalling his stint as SBMA chair.

Antonio Lopa, the valedictorian of Estrada’s Ateneo High School class, vouched for Estrada’s intellect: “In fact, he was above average. He didn’t belong to the honors class but his grades were good.”

Before entering politics, Estrada was a multi-awarded actor and producer. In 1967, he was elected municipal mayor of San Juan, an office he would hold for 16 years. He was one of hundreds of local officials who were asked to step down after the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution.

When he left the town hall, San Juan boasted of some P24 million in savings and an impressive infrastructure, according to Estrada’s campaign website.

“These included the establishment of the first San Juan Municipal High School, the Agora complex, a modern slaughterhouse, a sprawling government center with a post office, a mini-park and the concreting of 98 percent of San Juan’s roads and alleys” the website read.

Breeding carabao

In 1972, Estrada was selected as one of the Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) in Public Administration by the Philippine Jaycees. He was also voted Outstanding Mayor and foremost nationalist by the Inter-Provincial Information Service in 1971.

The following year, he was named “Most Outstanding Metro Manila Mayor” by the Philippine Princeton Poll.

In 1987, Estrada was elected as one of only two opposition candidates to the first post-Marcos Senate.

He takes pride in having authored a law that promotes the breeding of the carabao (water buffalo), the Filipino farmers’ beast of burden, and also in having voted against the extension of the RP-US Military Bases Agreement.

In 1992, Estrada won the vice presidency (as the running mate of businessman Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco). In 1998, he made history by posting the biggest landslide victory in Philippine presidential elections, garnering 10.7 million votes and leading his closest rival De Venecia by 6.4 million votes.

By going on his Pasasalamat Tour, Estrada wanted to thank supporters for electing his wife Loi Ejercito and his son Jinggoy to the Senate in 2001 and 2004—even as Estrada faced trial at the anti-graft court.

For Estrada, the vote for Loi and Jinggoy meant that the people still supported him despite his downfall.

“(Senators Loi and Jinggoy) were elected not on their own but because of Erap,” Maceda said.

‘Last performance’

Erap For President Part II is about “finishing the last performance of his life,” Maceda said. “He just wants to finish his programs especially for the poor.”

“There were things that were left undone,’’ Lopa added. ‘’Naturally, one of the things he wanted to finish was the war with the MILF.”

Before the campaign, Payumo said, some of Estrada’s friends expressed concern about his chances of winning.

“Well-meaning friends intimated to him that all this vindication might be lost if he loses this time,” Payumo said.

Lopa said Estrada’s Ateneo classmates shared the same sentiments.

“But they have not told him,” Lopa said. “Leave it up to him to decide. He’s intelligent.”