Mr. Buencamino writes political commentary for Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in the Opinion Section, Yellow Pad Column of BusinessWorld, November 7, 2005 edition, page S1/5.

In Paul Hoffman’s portrait of the math genius, Paul Erdos, there is a passage about a controversy on Euclidean geometry that made me reflect on the probable logic behind Mrs. Gloria Arroyo’s cover-up of cheating in the 2004 elections.

Hoffman recounted a 19th century debate that erupted when a “few cranky empiricists” proposed new concepts that overturned the “geometry of nature” as postulated by Euclid. One non-Euclidean said there were no parallel lines whatsoever because “all lines eventually meet up at infinity.” Another claimed that “the sum of the angles of a triangle is not exactly 180 degrees.”  The debate between the Euclidean and non-Euclidean camps could not be settled because neither side’s arguments could be “thrown out on the grounds of self-contradiction.” Only physical proof could resolve the question and silence the skeptics.

But how could anyone produce the required physical proof? How does one actually find that point in infinity where parallel lines intersect? How does one create a perfect measuring instrument?  In the end, one has to rely on intuition and believe what one chooses to believe.

The debate surrounding Mrs. Arroyo’s questionable mandate could have been resolved rather easily. Documentary evidence and corroborating testimonies proving that massive cheating happened in 2004 were readily available. Unfortunately, closure never occurred because Mrs. Arroyo suppressed and tampered with both the evidence and the witnesses. Surveillance videos covering the area where disputed election returns were kept were conveniently erased. Garci disappeared, and remaining witnesses were either silenced or defamed.

Mrs. Arroyo has engaged in a cover-up so massive and so audacious it makes her cheating look trivial.

The  cover-up opened the door for Raul Gonzalez to say:  “I am not a voice expert…but I will never admit that that is the President (speaking).”  It allowed Mike Defensor to admit, with a straight face, that  the voice on the Garci tapes belonged to Mrs. Arroyo and, in the same breath, claim she was not the one doing the talking. It permitted Mrs. Arroyo to apologize for something and still go around the country insisting she won the election fair and square.

With compromised evidence and the principal witness gone, all Mrs. Arroyo has to do now is point to pre-poll voting preference surveys, exit polls, and the Namfrel and congressional tallies as proof enough that she won.  She can also make Solita Monsod’s article, “Truth is Arroyo won,” required reading.

The Garci tapes,  sworn testimonies on election anomalies,  research on more than 200,000 election returns, and exposes by organizations like Newsbreak and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism will remain buried under mountains of trash, courtesy of  Mrs. Arroyo, her toadies in Congress, Palace spinmeisters, user-friendly journalists, and civil society and religious collaborators.

As further anti-discovery insurance coverage, Mrs. Arroyo closed all “proper venues” for questioning the 2004 election, thus forcing concerned citizens to form an independent fact-finding body to find out what really happened. Predictably, Mrs. Arroyo characterized the fact-finding body as a kangaroo court. That was her calibrated preemptive response to what she fears she may have overlooked and which the body might uncover.

Mrs. Arroyo has done everything to reduce the issue of her mandate to a question of choosing to believe what one chooses to believe so she can say something similar to what Ivan in Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov said about the debate on Euclidean geometry, “Even if the parallel lines converge and I actually witness it, I shall witness it and say they have converged, but all the same I shall not accept it.”

Where was Ivan’s twisted soul sister when Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton needed her?