I spoke with Danton Remoto of Ang Ladlad today, and he explained his side of the story behind the denial of his group’s request for accreditation. He informed me that he was going to file a motion for reconsideration, and reported some disturbing facts to me that I promised to look into.
All told, I believe that – assuming Ang Ladlad can show that it has faithfully complied with all the requirements of the law – then it should be granted accreditation. As a matter of fact, that’s what I emphasized in today’s press release. The disapproval of the group’s application was based solely on it’s non-compliance with the law. Or more precisely, the requirements for accreditation set down by jurisprudence (which, of course, is part of the law of the land).
Still, I suppose this ruling must sting like hell. And yet, despite all that, Danton was very polite and upbeat. His equanimity was much appreciated, coming as it did, on the heels of what had to be a huge disappointment handed to it by the COMELEC.
I appreciated it even more since I had occasion to compare him to Antonio Tinio of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT).
Tinio, for whose group the COMELEC recently bent over backwards, had the temerity to threaten, yep threaten, COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos if the COMELEC didn’t do what he wanted.
It was at a meeting with Kontra-Daya, that new group formed by Vice-President Tito Guingona and Fr. Joe Dizon, when Tinio started ticking off provisions of RA 9369 which he said had to be operationalized in May 2007. First mentioned was the requirement for there to be an 8th copy of the election returns. Abalos said that it would be done – as he has often said in public. But Tinio belligerently pointed out that the 8th copy wasn’t mentioned in the General Instructions for BEIs
That statement nearly knocked me off my seat. The GI was promulgated on January 26, while RA 9369 was published for the first time on the same day and was scheduled to take effect only in February. How could Tinio expect something that wasn’t even a valid and enforceable law yet find its way into the GI? In any case, Abalos assured everyone that an 8th copy would be available.
Towards the end of the meeting, after everything had been going on cordially enough, Tinio suddenly pipes up again with his insistence that the COMELEC should provide facilities for flashing the canvassing up on widescreens at every canvassing center. Now, on the surface of things, this would entail considerable costs, mostly from procuring multimedia projectors for every canvassing center. The Chairman responded by saying that we would do this if we could get the money for it. Tinio shoots back with an arrogant “pag hindi niyo ito ginawa, sasabihin naming wala kayong political will!” in a very belligerent tone, yet again. The intent to threaten Abalos with unfounded public criticism was clear, and it elicited a strong reaction from the COMELEC Chairman.
Obviously, Tinio had gone on a bear-baiting expedition. Watching him smirk at Abalos rising to the bait reminded me of sophomoric juveniles getting cheered on by their mates whenever they get under the skin of the teacher with their wisecracks.
Abalos clarified that he was willing to field projectors if we could find the money for it, but Tinio apparently wanted a blanket guarantee that we would do it, even if we could not find money for it. The bottom line is this: the budget we were granted by Congress to run the May 14 polls is the barest minimum we can work with. If you add another significant expense, then some items on the budget would have to do without; and the budget is so thin that “doing without” might literally mean cutting alot of necessary corners.
Someone pointed out that RA 9369 itself provided for a 2.6 billion peso budget. Sure, it did. But it also said that the money would come from the COMELEC Modernization Fund – there is no such thing. And since there is no COMELEC Modernization Fund, the 2.6 billion being referred to actually does not exist. And the only thing we can buy with non-existent money is a non-existent multi-media projector.
However, this doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. Certainly, the COMELEC can deputize other government agencies to fill in where the COMELEC cannot provide. In the case of multi-media projectors, for instance, we could probably ask the DILG to help us out. These alternative modes should have been deemed included in Abalos cautious statement that “we will do it if we can.” It went without saying that, obviously, if we get DILG to help us, then “we can.” His objection to Tinio’s statement, therefore, was not to the idea of complying with the law, but with the abrasiveness and rudeness that Tinio must have thought was a cool thing to use. And the funny thing is, Tinio’s principals – Fr. Joe Dizon, RC Constantino, Tito Guingona, and all the rest understood exactly what Abalos was saying and were satisfied with his statement that he would do his best to make it happen.
What a disappointment. And to think that both he and Danton are teachers. How can one be so rude in the face of what was, ultimately nothing more than a cautious statement; and the other, so gracious despite such a grievous disappointment?