An epidemic of amnesia seems to be sweeping our country, leading to hysterical demagoguery. Try to remember the facts.
The opposition in 2004 was so much of a squabbling, disunited pack that everyone wanted to be president. The result: Panfilo Lacson helped defeat Fernando Poe Jr. by grabbing 11 percent of the votes, with the late Raul Roco and Ed Villanueva together getting 12 percent. All these votes could have gone to a single opposition candidate – but didn’t.
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, on the other hand, had a formidable force. It consisted mainly of Edsa II forces who didn’t want Joseph Estrada restored to power through his surrogate, FPJ, plus more: the Lakas-NUCD, the Liberal Party, the Nacionalista Party, the Nationalist People’s Coalition, Fidel Ramos, Miriam Santiago, then Senate President Franklin Drilon, then House Speaker Jose de Venecia, the Cojuangcos, the Firm, the NGOs, the Catholic Church, the Iglesia ni Cristo, El Shaddai, Couples for Christ, the Makati Business Club, the media empires, 85 percent of incumbent governors and congressmen, Nora Aunor, Vilma Santos. And of course, not once, but twice, did the democracy icon Corazon Aquino back the winning presidential candidate.
Estrada had begged his best friend FPJ to run, saying that he would rot in prison if Arroyo remained in power. He told FPJ he wouldn’t spend a centavo, as his cronies would raise a billion-peso campaign kitty. They got cold feet though because of a court case alleging that FPJ was not a natural-born Filipino citizen, and therefore couldn’t be president. Campaign funds dried up and the ragtag FPJ organization ran out of steam. Is it so surprising that 1.12 million more Filipinos voted for a real person instead of a reel persona, who refused to debate what he would do if he was elected president and who even quarrelled with the media?
A piece entitled “Truth is GMA won” (Inquirer, 10/29/05) by Winnie Monsod, who has a reputation for rigorous thinking and principled non-partisanship, provides more facts on the 2004 contest:
“It has been said that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will start thinking it is true… Unfortunately for them, there is another saying: ‘You can fool some of the people all of the time, and you can fool all of the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.”
“Item: ‘Gloria Arroyo is an illegitimate president’ [because she cheated to win].
“1. Voter preferences as recorded by the Social Weather Stations, which conducted polls every two weeks since the start of the campaign period, showed that while at the beginning (Jan. 16-28) the lead of FPJ over Arroyo was almost 10 percentage points, this was whittled down so that a month later, they were running neck-and-neck, and this continued into March. By the second week of April, the polls showed Ms Arroyo ahead by almost five percentage points although this was not statistically significant. But by the week before the elections, Ms Arroyo’s lead over Poe was significant (37 percent vs. 30 percent).
“The other major polling organization, Pulse Asia, also noted the same trend, although its polls were taken at slightly different time periods…
“Its last poll from April 26-29 showed Ms Arroyo leading, 37 percent vs. 31 percent. Note that a six-point lead in voter preferences… would imply a difference of 2.0-2.5 million votes between the two candidates.
“2. Exit polls on Election Day itself by at least three media organizations validated the run-up polls. All of them showed Ms Arroyo as the winner.
“3. The final official congressional canvass showed Ms Arroyo getting 40 percent of the votes cast, while Poe got 36.5 percent (a difference of 1.1 million votes), while the Namfrel Quick Count, based on 83 percent of total precincts showed Ms Arroyo with 39.4 percent and Poe with 36.8 percent (a difference of 700,000 votes).
“All figures from different sources are within the same ballpark, and all indicate that Ms Arroyo won. For those who think that the poll results should not be accepted, it should be pointed out that the head of the Social Weather Stations is the first cousin of Poe.
“What’s more, other circumstances obtaining during the campaign period support the conclusion that it is the claim of ‘illegitimacy’ that is a lie: after all, her coalition party, K4, won 58 percent of senatorial seats, 87 percent of congressional seats, 85 percent of gubernatorial slots, 87 percent of city mayor seats, and 85 percent of all mayor seats. Either they carried her or she carried them, or there was some combination of both.
“Could this have been the result of a grand conspiracy to commit massive cheating at all levels? But that is not what either the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines or the Namfrel thought. Said the prelates: ‘There were some instances of cheating and violations of election law by political parties in their areas but these did not affect the voting in general. It is the view of the bishops that the results of the elections reflected the will of the Filipino people.’
“Said Namfrel secretary general Bill Luz: ‘The results of the elections are credible and reflect the vote of the people. We didn’t see enough electoral anomalies at the national level to have a material effect on the national results.’
“… And finally, it was generally acknowledged that Poe was shooting himself in the foot during the campaign, and that the opposition was split four ways. In other words, they did it to themselves.’’
And “Garci”? If he cheated for Arroyo, he did a lousy job. Votes for Arroyo in Mindanao, based on Congress’ official count, were 527,144 less than the votes based on the SWS exit poll. That is too big to be a poll’s margin of error: Was it she who was cheated?
From the Philippine Daily Inquirer