Buencamino does political affairs analysis for Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in newspaper Today, January 21, 2005, p. 11.

Several months ago, Noli de Castro showed the public something it had not seen for a very long time. He showed that an elected official was capable of self-sacrifice.

In a truly memorable act of gallantry and selflessness, de Castro put an end to the incessant carping and whining of Dinky Soliman and her civil society cohorts by declining Mrs. Arroyo’s appointment to head the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD).

His chief of staff, Atty. Jesse Andres put it this way, “It is not only in the capacity of DSWD secretary that he can help, and he wants to serve as an example that a vice president can serve for the common good… Our people think politicians are all power- hungry. Here is an example of an elected official showing that self-sacrifice is an option.”

Consequently, Noli de Castro became infinitely more acceptable to the public than Mrs Arroyo. Unfortunately, because he ran with her, his vice presidency is tarnished with an election protest.

One admires Mr. de Castro’s willingness to surrender his ambitions to maintain “unity and cooperation” in the government. But, he would be making a big mistake if he sacrifices his good name for it as well.

Susan Roces has taken up her late husband’s election protest. She said her “sole motivation and purpose is to ensure that the sovereign will and true voice of the Filipino electorate is upheld and sustained.”

No one, not even Mrs. Arroyo and her Palace eunuchs, doubts Susan Roces’ sincerity and solid case. The official Palace response—”We leave this matter to the electoral tribunal to decide. Our lawyers will take on the issue as deemed appropriate. It is best to leave the legal process to run its course. We must focus on governance and nation-building.” —feigns a hands-off attitude while simultaneously attempting to divert attention to something else. That is, focus on their governance and nation-building, and not on the allegations of
their massive cheating.

The cheap trick is exposed in a news report that said “Mrs. Arroyo’s election lawyer, Atty. Romulo Makalintal, told The[Philippine] Star that he had prepared to wage a long drawn-out legal battle for at least the next 10 years.”  Mrs. Arroyo, like her poodle Dinky, will do anything to hold on to power.

This is where de Castro can help unify the country. He can forge an
agreement with Loren Legarda to resolve her protest quickly. If they agree that neither side’s lawyers will pursue a cynical Makalintal-type legal strategy, there is no reason why a full recount of ballots cannot be completed in a few months.

With an agreement to work with Legarda to quickly resolve a conflict that is dividing the country, he will set the predicate for Susan Roces and Mrs. Arroyo to come to a similar arrangement.

There is no doubt that Susan Roces wants her late husband’s protest
resolved as quickly as possible. And Mrs. Arroyo, if she truly believes she won, should want to dispose of the biggest obstacle to her legitimacy just as quickly.

Noli de Castro can set another example for lesser politicians. At the  same time he will help resolve an issue that has been dividing the country for more than three years.

Who knows, he might become legitimate president sooner than he thinks.