MANILA, MAY 22, 2007
(MALAYA) by REY O. ARCILLA (‘There were some bright spots which are unmistakable signs of the growing maturity of the Filipino voter.’)

QUOTE OF THE YEAR: I don’t know what lies ahead but what I pity most are the children and future generations, that we cannot leave a good legacy to them of how fair, honest elections can be conducted (to) reflect the free will of people and not the color of the dirty politicians’ money." – Virgilio ‘Garci’ Garcillano.


Need I say more?


Amidst numerous reports of irregularities in last week’s elections, there were some bright spots which are unmistakable signs of the growing maturity of the Filipino voter:

1. The victory of Fr. Eddie Panlilio as governor of Pampanga over two of Ms. Gloria M. Arroyo’s allies.

2. Except for Vilma Santos whose victory as governor of Batangas is attributed to her having proved her mettle as a public official as mayor of Lipa, no other "prominent" showbiz personality won the seat he/she aspired for.

3. Virgilio "Garci" Garcillano lost miserably but claimed he was cheated by his rival candidate.

4. Antonio Trillanes, leader of the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny is making a strong showing in the senatorial race although confined to his cell throughout the campaign period. His would be a monumental achievement, win or lose.

5. The victory of opposition candidate Darlene Antonino as congressman from Gensan, Cotabato, over boxing idol Manny Pacquiao

6. And, of course, the winning run (so far) of the Genuine Opposition in the senatorial contest.


The "trending" of the results of voting in certain Mindanao provinces has begun with the supposed 12-0 win by the regime’s Team Unity (TU) in Maguindanao.

12-0?! Incredible! But is it statistically possible? Out of 336,000 voters?

Unbelievable! Anyway, expect the succeeding ones to be a little less incredible – 11-1, then 10-2, then maybe 10-3, all in favor of TU. I could be wrong, of course. They just might decide to stick to 12-0 with Singson as No. 1. Huh?


US President George W. Bush and outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair complimented each other as brave, courageous and good friends, or some such words.

Instead of patting each other on the back, I feel they should have asked each other how many deaths they caused with their rash adventure in Iraq. Certainly a lot more deaths than the late Saddam Hussain had caused and could have caused had Iraq not been invaded, as it were, for no justifiable reason.


If there is any lingering doubt in the mind of anyone as to how dangerous the situation in Iraq is, doubt no more.

After much ballyhoo about Prince Harry, third in line to the British throne, going to Iraq, the British armed forces chief finally decided not to send the prince because "the changing situation on the ground exposed the prince to too much danger."

How about the others who will be sent or are already there? Oh, of course, they are less princely.


Foreign Secretary Alberto G. Romulo was right when he earlier expressed confidence that the Philippines would be re-elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council because the Asian Group in the UN was supporting its bid.

That was the key to our re-election to the Council last Thursday.

To say that our re-election demonstrated the international community’s "continued confidence in the Philippines’ commitment to uphold, protect and promote human rights" and that it was "a clear vote of confidence for the Philippines and President Arroyo’s efforts to move further forward the global agenda of upholding and protecting human rights" is stretching the truth a bit and, therefore, misleading.

We won because we were endorsed by the Asian Group, along with India, Indonesia and Qatar, to fill the vacant seats allotted to the Group.

If credit has to be given for our re-election, it must be to those who must have worked hard to have the Asian Group members endorse our bid. They are our men and women in the Philippine Mission to the UN in New York and our envoys in Asian capitals where we have diplomatic or consular representation.

The UN membership is divided into five regional groups for the purpose of allotting seats in UN subsidiary bodies through a formula agreed upon by the members themselves. The sole criterion is that the number of seats allotted to each group must be in direct proportion to the number of its members in relation to the number of available seats in a given subsidiary body.

Once a regional group – African, Asian, Eastern European States, Latin American and Caribbean States, and the Western European and Other States (the "Other States" are Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States) – endorses its list of candidates for the seats allotted to it in a certain body, it is a foregone conclusion that they will be elected.

If a regional group has more candidates than the seats allotted to it and could not come up with a clean slate, it notifies the other groups. That is the time when intense lobbying by the unendorsed candidates with the members of the other groups takes place.

In the present case, both the Eastern European States Group and the Western European and Other States Group each had one more candidate than the two seats allotted to each. They, therefore, were unable to come up with clean slates and as a result, two members from each of the two groups had to go through a second round of balloting.

If perchance, Ms. Arroyo and Mr. Romulo think that our re-election to the UN Human Rights Council was a "vindication for the Philippines and President Arroyo", as Permanent Representative to the UN Hilario Davide says, they are sadly mistaken. We are not yet out of the woods, so to speak, with respect to the extrajudicial killings and disappearances of individuals.


Speaking of disappearances, I wonder how serious or how much efforts the police and security officials are spending to find Jonas Burgos. Yes, how much?


A reader wrote to complain about the "horrible, chaotic and longest wait" people now experience in getting authentication of various documents from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).

It appears that in the past, they used to get such authentication from Malacañang. In December 2006, the task was transferred to the DFA. As a result, thousands, most of them seeking employment abroad, now crowd daily at the DFA seeking authentication of documents from CHED, DepEd, TESDA, DOH, NBI, ATO, etc.

My reader claims that "a colleague had to wait the whole day to claim her school records" while another friend "had to go back three times to get her TESDA authentication."

I checked with the DFA officials concerned. They said their main problem is lack of personnel. However, they have now received authorization from the Commission on Elections (?) to hire more people to ease the congestion. They have also introduced a new authentication system and will install the necessary equipment to support it.

They expect the congestion to start thinning by mid-June or sooner, following the implementation of a new "call-in reference number system" starting this week.

I’d like to thank my reader for bringing this problem to my attention. At the same time, I believe the DFA officials concerned deserve to be complimented for being mindful of the problem and addressing it appropriately. I wish them luck.

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