Dear Koko and Migz:
Salaam. I begin this letter with a greeting of peace to emphasize that all that is written here is in good faith and done in a spirit of brotherhood to both protagonists in the battle for the 12th Senate seat. Yes, Migz has been proclaimed by the Comelec, but the issue of who really won in the last elections is far from over. So since the central characters in this drama will still face off in the Senate Electoral Tribunal, it is appropriate to give them some advice and constructive criticism, unsolicited as it may be.
Pañero, you and I are on the same Genuine Opposition team and naturally I am rooting for you but your approach to this situation has been, for the most part, wrong. First, you have been pursuing this as a purely legal battle. It is not. It is, more important, a battle for public opinion, for the hearts and minds of both your supporters and detractors. You have to make the complex legal issues involved in this case understandable and accessible to the general public. The vast majority of Filipinos are non-lawyers and are not interested in esoteric legal principles such as estoppel, statistical improbability, or the Lagumbay doctrine. Frankly, Juan de la Cruz does not care a whit about these concepts. What he wants to know is how election fraud affects him personally, how it destroys his mandate and his right to choose his leaders.
This leads me to my second point: This election debacle is not just about you and the impression that you have given the public, unwittingly I’m sure, is that you are only fighting for your personal right to be proclaimed as senator. Again, it is not about you — the mandate that has been abused, disregarded, and degraded is the people’s mandate. You have to show the public that you are fighting for their rights, their interests, not merely for your own self-interest. Stop talking about you being cheated — it is the people who have been cheated.
Third, trust your lawyers. From what I saw at Friday’s oral arguments before the Supreme Court, you are in very capable hands. Again, don’t ever lawyer for yourself because you will not have the clarity and objectivity needed to win.
Lastly, lighten up. You appear overly serious and combative when facing the press while your opponent, in contrast, appears in the media smiling and relaxed. I understand that you must be fuming mad because you know that you have been cheated but in our culture those who lose their cool are beaten (ang pikon talo). So chill out – you may have lost some battles but the war isn’t over just yet.
You do not know me and you probably see me as someone totally partisan so what I have to say may not have much weight with you. Nevertheless, allow me to offer some advice that I again must emphasize is done in a spirit of brotherly counsel and based on what I believe to be not only for the common good but for your personal benefit as well.
You do not need to do a survey to know that most people believe that the Maguindanao results are fraudulent. The results are not merely “statistically improbable” but are simply logically impossible. Remember, these are the poll results that had Chavit Singson originally at the top spot. More specifically, the Maguindanao results showed an over 90 percent voter turn-out and 19 candidates for senator, including extremely popular candidates such as Lacson, Cayetano and Aquino, getting zero votes in an entire province. This is simply unbelievable. In fact, the implication of the voter turn-out of over 90 percent is that on election day, practically everybody in the province of Maguindanao trooped to the polls. This means that almost no one was sick, injured, out of the province for work or leisure, forgot to vote, decided not to vote, or had to stay home to care for their children, parents, spouse, etc. This impossible situation utterly destroys the credibility of the province’s election results. Of course, it does not help that you have provincial election supervisor Bedol “losing” all the certificates of canvass and Namfrel and PPCRV not getting their election returns as mandated by law. Simply, it is obvious to any reasonable person that the results in Maguindanao are tainted with fraud. So do you really want that taint to be associated with your person? Would you like to be forever thought of as someone who benefited from cheating?
I have heard only good things about you as a person and as a congressman. Your friends and even those on the opposite side of the political fence say you are honest, well-mannered, God-fearing, and devoted to your family. All these descriptions of you lead me to believe that you are too decent to accept a tainted mandate. You should realize that accepting the results from Maguindanao will contaminate the mandate of millions of people who have supported you. Your supporters deserve better. You deserve better. You still have a bright future ahead of you but, as with all things in life, this issue regarding Maguindanao will be a real test of character for you. Call me naïve but I continue to pray for you that you will rise up to the challenge and refuse to accept a “victory” that includes a tainted mandate.
Lastly, for Koko and Migz, I pray that God will enlighten and strengthen you both and lead you to do what is right and best for our country.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
From Adel Tamano: