Might of the Living Dead

Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms.  This article was published in Business Mirror, September 6, 2006 edition, p. A6.

Over at “Debate”, the weekly insomniac’s brawl refereed by Oscar Orbos and Solita Monsod,  Sigaw ng Bayan leader Raul Lambino  claimed that 6.3 million Filipinos had signed up for his people’s initiative. His statement prompted San Juan mayor JV Ejercito to present proof that many of Sigaw’s gathered signatures came from dead legionnaires residing in San Juan’s cemeteries.

Lambino tried to debunk the allegation of fraud by insinuating that the evidence against Sigaw was manufactured by Ejercito himself. It was the wrong move. He cannot refute  evidence by casting  doubt on the credibility of someone who looks more trustworthy than him. He should have confronted Ejercito’s evidence head-on and said, “So what if  the dead voted? They pay estate taxes so they should have a right to vote.”  And, if only he had done his homework, he could have added, “In the US state of Georgia, some counties permitted their dead to vote because, based on the deceased’s political party affiliation, he would have voted for his party’s candidate if he had been alive on election day. Look it up.”

Lambino missed a golden opportunity to champion the right of the dead to vote. Too bad. But not too late. He can introduce it at the constitutional assembly because it’s saner than the other provisions found in Sigaw’s proposed charter.

JV Ejercito made an even greater error because his allegation about dead voters provoked the question, “Why would the dead disrupt their eternal repose and rise from their graves to sign a petition for Charter change if they didn’t think it was the greatest idea ever conceived by any Filipino, living or dead, for all Filipinos living and dead?”

The nation’s moral compass, Speaker Jose de Venecia, must have had the same question in mind when he said, “The 6.3 million verified signatures (for Cha-cha) constitute a moral force in our society that no one can — and must — ignore. Together, they represent the collective voice of the Filipino people who believe that urgent political change is vital to the survival of the nation.”

De Venecia is not known for making frivolous sweeping statements. He always backs up his words with facts, figures, and examples which, quite often, are too many. However, in this case, when he enumerated the collective voice of the people as “ the voices of workers, farmers, fishermen, entrepreneurs, professionals, the youth and student sectors, as well as business groups,” he could have added, “and the dead.”

Raul Gonzalez, Mrs. Arroyo’s legal beagle, couldn’t help but spend his two cents on the people’s initiative. He took a break from UP’s naked runners and the panty of the Subic rape victim to inform the press that the Supreme Court could also resurrect the dead. He told them the Court could reverse its 6-6 vote on the motion for reconsideration filed by then-President Fidel Ramos’ legions because, “It’s always a numbers game. The objective here is to reverse that.”

I had no problem with Gonzalez’ first penny because everything in the Enchanted Kingdom is a numbers game.  Diosdado Macapagal called that state of affairs Constitutional Democracy. It’s the other penny, the one about reversing the Court’s 6-6 decision, that I had to bite on because, “Isn’t the reverse of 6-6 also 6-6?”

Meanwhile, not to be outdone by her Tonton Macoutes, Mrs. Arroyo decided to summon spirits too. She told the Philippine Transport and General Workers’ Organization, “Now is the time to push our capacity and fighting spirit to the limit.”  When I heard that, I thought I was in the cult movie, “Night of the Living Dead.”  I began to experience nightmare visions of an army of pen-wielding zombies roaming the streets of San Juan looking for Sigaw’s signature gatherers.

But seriously. Instead of summoning fighting spirits and raising the dead to sign petitions, why doesn’t this regime just raise that oil-leaking tanker from its watery grave in Guimaras Strait?

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