Consistent with the basic essence of democracy as expressed in the words “sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them,” the process by which the true mandate of the people is to be determined must involve considering each and every single vote validly cast in an election. Not a single vote should be disregarded. It is in election that a balut vendor can truly be considered to be at par and equal with the wealthiest business tycoon. Every vote freely expressed in a ballot is sacred.
This is precisely the principle that I was trying to highlight in my earlier blog “Proving election fraud is one thing, finding out who won is another.” The investigations to be conducted by COMELEC and the Department of Justice are supposed to hold those who might have been responsible for the scandalous election anomalies in the 2004 and 2007 elections accountable. If GMA is found to be involved, then we can even say that she should have been disqualified or impeached from office. But finding out who the true winner was, the one who truly obtained the highest number of valid votes in the 2004 election, will have to involve a different process altogether, a process that is appropriate for the purpose.
Two days ago (July 28, 2011), a reporter from GMA News requested me to be interviewed by phone on the same topic I blogged about. Though I expected my inputs to be just a part of a news article on the subject, I did not expect that I would be the subject of the news myself. What came out was a “breaking news” article with a heading “Poll fraud doesn’t mean FPJ won in ’04’ – election lawyer.” In the article, I was quoted to have said that “Kung nandaya si kuwan, hindi ibig sabihin nanalo ang dinaya.” I thought I was just helping the reporter contextualize the issues amid all these raging news about election fraud. As a mere interviewee, I had no control about how the news story was actually written and I think it failed to articulate the exact point that I was driving at. I feel I was somewhat misquoted.
What followed were comments from online readers, some of whom cursed me for what they thought was my supposedly having forwarded the position that FPJ lost and GMA won, despite the evidence of fraud that are now coming out. I was even falsely accused of being “bayaran.” Although I can just assume that these people were either rabid pro FPJ or anti-GMA fanatics who can never accept adverse objective points of views, those cruel and unfair comments hit me hard. This blogsite and my occasional media interviews are my way of contributing to the need of increasing public awareness and understanding of election concepts and principles. It is an advocacy for me and I am not paid for these sharings.
Like many others, I personally am unsure who actually won in that election. I was just trying to state and emphasize a core democratic principle to give a context to all these big news about election cheating. (By the way, I did not vote for GMA or FPJ) There were also a few positive comments though, with some expressing appreciation at my having clarified the nuances of the issue.
In any case, the Comelec and DOJ investigations (prescription issues taken aside) should tell us how the instances of fraud were committed and who committed them. Those found responsible should be prosecuted relentlessly and be held accountable pursuant to applicable laws, even if they would include GMA, FG, and their cohorts in the police, military, and in COMELEC. This should be the direction of the investigations regardless of how many votes are affected. But even if incidental to the investigations, substantial fraudulent counts and tallies are discovered, these findings cannot be the basis for concluding who truly won the 2004 presidential elections.
While we should be making sure that accountability for electoral fraud is promoted and encouraged, we should not lose sight of the basic principle that in determining the true mandate of the people, every vote counts and should be counted, even if only for the purpose of putting a footnote in our history.