A serious matter

Some party-list groups (some call them leftist, they call themselves progressive) have distributed copies of “an alleged confidential memorandum that was purportedly submitted to President Arroyo by assistant secretary Marcelo Fariñas of Malacañang’s Office of External Affairs (OEM) on alleged plans to give some party-list groups financial support to counter plans by left-leaning sectoral organizations to impeach the President.” 

On being told of this document, COMELEC Commissioner Rene V. Sarmiento is said to have characterized it as “a serious matter,” which he would bring up before the Commission en banc.

Well, of course it’s a serious matter. What makes me shake my head in disbelief is how the drumbeaters of that supposedly secret missive have latched on to Sarmiento’s words and are using it to try to steamroll the COMELEC into launching an investigation on the strength of nothing more than an unsubstantiated accusation.

According to the Philippine STAR:

“Even if we don’t file the Comelec can probe this motu propio since (Commissioner) Sarmiento says this is a serious matter… But in order to clear their names I think that conducting an investigation motu propio will be a good gesture on their part,” (Gabriela Representative Liza) Masa said. 

And the accusation will remain unsubstantiated until someone comes forward and presents the COMELEC with this document and proves that it is authentic. To treat this differently would mean that all you have to do to call down the dogs of law enforcement on someone is to float the idea that that person has done something wrong. And that’s what the drum beaters seems to want: to be able to make the accusation and not stand behind it and be accountable for a possible case of bearing false witness. That goes against every principle of due process and the presumption of innocence that is the bedrock of our justice system.

So why doesn’t Gabriela just file the petition? Only they can answer that. If they’re so sure of their accusation, why give the COMELEC the chance to “clear” its name? Why not just go for the jugular since this is such a ‘serious’ and damning piece of evidence if true? Why give the COMELEC the opportunity to perform a “good gesture?” I doubt that their generous dangling of an opportunity for greatness is motivated by a love of the COMELEC; methinks its because this document may turn out to be nothing more than an updated version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion. And how can we prove it isn’t unless someone actually presents it to the COMELEC in a formal petition?

Other news …

De Castro: 12-0 target just a ‘gimmick.’ Ya’think?! If it were an indication that the fix is on, you’d have to accept the idea that everyone on Team Unity is an idiot who agrees that hinting at a sweep will not give away the plot to cheat. C’mon! Does this mean, then, that every time a championship basketball team declares that it will sweep the series that the outcome will have been rigged? Does the word ‘bravado’ not ring a bell with anyone anymore?

“ ‘If the military will remove or destroy our posters, what will happen to us? That is not fair,’ (Antonio Trillanes IV’s spokesman Sonny) Rivera said.” From the strictly election campaign rules point of view, there is nothing wrong with tearing down any candidate’s posters if they are outside the common poster areas. It can be said, therefore, that compliance with the common poster areas rule is one way of ensuring that campaign materials stay up.

2 party-list groups defy Comelec, name nominees. Defy? What would they be defying the COMELEC for if the COMELEC never prohibited party-list groups from revealing the names of their own nominees? What the COMELEC says is that it won’t divulge the names of the nominees. That says nothing about preventing others from telling all and sundry who their nominees are. This, I think, is a great example of how a bad headline can skew an entire article.

Oh and, a lot of pundits and pundit-wannabes are bandying around this theory that the reason for the COMELEC’s stand on party-list nominees is because Abalos’ brother is with a party-list group. Duh? How can the reason for keeping the nominees ‘secret’ be to prevent people from knowing about Abalos’ brother, when everyone knows it already? Remember how when Ellen deGeneres said “I’m gay,” the near universal reaction was “We know?” Yeah. This is exactly the same thing.

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