Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in Business Mirror, November 15, 2005 edition, p. A11.

Solita Monsod recently wrote an article called “Truth is Arroyo won.” She used the same litany Mrs. Gloria Arroyo has been reciting for the last year and a half: pre-poll surveys agree with exit polls, which were in the same ballpark as the final Namfrel (National Movement for Free Elections) and congressional tallies. And the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines gave its seal of good housekeeping to these tallies. Monsod added that Mike Velarde and Erdie Manalo endorsed Arroyo while Fernando Poe, Jr. shot himself in the foot and that the opposition split four ways.

Monsod reminds me of George W. Bush who said, “See, in my line of work you got to keep repeating things over and over and over again for the truth to sink in, to kind of catapult the propaganda.”

Catapulting propaganda is okay if the catapult is not facing a brick wall like the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ). Unlike Monsod, PCIJ does not rely on voter preference surveys, exit polls, seals of approval, and punditry. PCIJ’s findings are well-documented.

Here is a summary of the latest PCIJ i Report called “10 reasons to doubt the 2004 election results.”

1. “Unusual jump in number of registered voters.” The usual increases range from about 3.8 percent to a high of 6.5 percent. The jump in voter registration from 2002 to 2004 was 15 percent.

Comelec credits “heightened awareness” and “enthusiasm” for this “one giant leap for mankind.”

2. “Number of registered voters exceeds Comelec projection: In the provinces of Pampanga, Cebu, Iloilo and Bohol, which delivered the largest chunks of the president’s winning margin over Poe, the number of registered voters in the end far exceeded the number of voters that Comelec expected to register.” The increase in registered voters for the four provinces ranged between 11 and 37 percent.

3. “Votes cast for all presidential candidates exceed actual voters.” Or mas maraming boto kaysa botante.

4. “Number of actual voters exceeds number of registered voters.” Or pati yung hindi registrado ay bumoto.

5. “Too popular outside bailiwick.” In Cebu, Arroyo got 7.8 votes for every Poe vote. In Pampanga, she only got 7.5 votes for every Poe vote.

I don’t know if that’s something to be proud of but hey, at least Arroyo knows that if she ever runs for a local office, she has a better chance of winning in Cebu than in her own province.

6. “Zero vote for highly popular candidate: A 1966 Supreme Court ruling says a zero vote is statistically improbable. But the highly popular Poe failed to gather a single vote in a lot of places, including Sto.Tomas town in his home province of Pangasinan and in several Maguindanao municipalities where rival Arroyo’s total votes equaled the number of actual voters (another statistical improbability)”

In short, si Eddie Gil pwedeng mabokya pero impossible mangyari yan kay Poe o kay Gloria.

7. “Votes for presidential candidate exceed votes for No.1 senatorial candidate.”

8. “Presidential candidate more popular than local candidate.”

9. “Unusually high winning ratio.” Arroyo led Poe “by as much as 22 to one” in Cebu where she got her biggest margin.

Erap’s best was a five to one margin over Joe de Venecia (JDV). Was the popularity gap between Arroyo and Poe anything like that of JDV and Erap? “Kataka-taka,” as they say in the vernacular.

10. “Padding and shaving.” A researcher, Roberto Verzola, analyzed the election tally of Namfrel. Unlike Mrs. Arroyo’s congressional tally which was based on 180 certificates of canvass (COCs), the Namfrel count was based on over 200,000 election returns (ERs). The researcher concluded, “Arroyo could have won by 156,000 votes at most, or Poe by 84,000 votes.”

Verzola’s ballpark looks a lot different from Arroyo’s, which was built on surveys, exit polls and questionable certificates of canvass (COCs).

Obviously, Monsod has never been to Verzola’s ballpark. Verzola found the biggest discrepancies between ERs and COCs in Basilan, Sultan Kudarat, Lanao del Norte, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur, and Maguindanao.

Still, Arroyo’s allies will argue, “granted without conceding that Mrs. Arroyo cheated in the ARMM, she would still be the winner because there are not enough votes there to overturn her one million-vote lead.”

Well, that puppy don’t hunt because if Arroyo cheated, then there’s no way of knowing who really won. And, if she cheated then, she’s now lying and covering up, so she has no business being president, period.

PCIJ’s top ten list did not even include the Garci tapes, overprinting of election forms, the mysterious Yuletide visitors at the Batasan, and the curious elf-sized thumb marks on the COCs.

Perhaps Monsod can learn something from Will Rogers’ parable of the mountain lion and the bull. “After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring. He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.”