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King for a Day?

King for a Day?
Ronald Roy — 2013 June 11

Nothing is permanent. All things are in a constant mode of change, such as our morals, ethics, biases and customs; that is, except God’s Law (the Ten Commandments) — which is unalterable, immutable and forever. Man’s Law must unswervingly conform to God’s Law. This is the business of lawmaking which requires no less, in reference to our basic charter, statutes, executive orders, administrative regulations, provincial, city and municipal ordinances, etcetera.
The primordial task of our newly elected senators, congressmen and party-list representatives is to enact laws in conformity primarily with God’s Law, then secondarily with the constitution, in order to attune the legal system to ever-changing human conditions in a way responsive to the people’s welfare.
The task is a solemn commitment, as if made at the altar of God, by the lawmakers in order not to line their pockets but to enrich the sovereign Filipino people’s lives, and to serve with the deepest devotion and fealty as if to a household master, and with the ennobling awareness that giving all they’ve got without expecting any reward will help revitalize our enfeebled nation, given the weaknesses besetting us as a people.
The whole trouble is that ambition and self-aggrandizement, the two most common temptations in the public service, are the very forces that are pernicious to the service. They are evils that come the way of electoral winners as a matter of course.
Depending on the elected candidate involved, the ego-inflating and mind-blowing acquisition of power, position and privilege will either humble him down to the level of a true public servant (alila ng bayan would be more apt), or whet his appetite to boost self-interest.
Succumbing to the enticements of power is what electoral winners should all guard against, particularly tyros like Grace Poe Llamanzares who, ostensibly gifted with an incorrupt heart and an incorruptible mind, has been overwhelmingly tagged as a shoo-in for at least the vice presidency three years from now.
I first heard about Grace, the name by which she reportedly prefers to be called, sometime in 2009 when the late Concerned Citizens Movement Chair, Josie T. Lichauco, cited her as a sure winner if she ran for senator. Josie had tried to persuade the then MTRCB Chairperson to do so, but she was dismayed when Grace replied, “Wow! Who? Me, for a senator?! Hee, hee, hee… no way, Ma’am, no thanks!”
I finally met Grace at the “Pa-siyam” (ninth-day memorial mass and novena) after Josie’s passing on February 14 the following year. Along with a few others who were each given two minutes to eulogize Josie with fond memories, there she was, Grace, speaking before a large assemblage: a lithe and demure lady coming across as intelligent, educated and spotlessly decent. And pretty, too. She had earlier caught my attention by clapping to the rhythm of “Too Marvelous for Words” — a Sinatra song I had volunteered to do as a special number of the program.
During a brief after-dinner chat with the daughter-in-law of Dr. Ted Llamanzares, an Ateneo High School Class ’53 batch mate of mine, I could sense her amusement as I dished out an anecdote about Premier Productions stuntman Ronnie Poe, whom I had met in 1958 and who eventually started a friendship between Erap Estrada and myself.
No, I couldn’t have pictured then this fragile lady as a potential occupant of a seat in a male-dominated environment known as the Senate of the Philippine Republic. But now my gut feeling is: she’ll shine as a legislator and even hold her own in parliamentary debates against her seasoned colleagues.
She will do well in the senate, although it remains to be seen how she will manage outside of it. Surely, just like other government functionaries, she’ll have to apportion her time among work, family and herself, when to say “yes” or “no” to people, and how to detect and avoid schemers and opportunists.
“Friends” and strangers will dance attendance on Grace — that’s for sure. And, oh yes, buttering her up are obnoxious characters called power brokers, not to mention, well, the usual shadowy flock of bribers. Grace will probably be envied by some of her own confreres who may seek to bring her down in any of a number of ways, like intrigue and behind-the-back muckraking.
This is the “new and exciting” horizon that has opened up for her, a great challenge that will benefit her constituents if she is able to make the needed adjustments to avoid the usual slew of pitfalls. The only unsolicited advice I can give Grace is: not to think of 2016, and just concentrate on being a productive legislator under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, whose desire is for her to serve God and country as a senator by treading the narrow and daunting path He has set out for all public servants.
By the way, I believe some constitutional and statutory adjustments may be in order, in light of what is generally perceived as the substandard performance of the Commission on Elections in its conduct of the recent midterm elections, more particularly with respect to its controversial operation of PCOS machines, and BUHAY’s gripe that, being the first-place party-list organization that garnered 1.3 million votes that entitled it outright to three Lower House seats, the COMELEC should not have reserved the right to give one of those seats to the Senior Citizens’ party that garnered just slightly over 600,000 votes, pending (as of this writing) final resolution by the Supreme Court of said party’s petition for restoration of its standing as a candidate still in the running, following its earlier disqualification by the COMELEC for having involved itself in term-sharing of the two seats it had won in the 2010 elections.
Another party-list issue probably warranting constitutional and statutory adjustments is AN WARAY’s contention that COMELEC’s post-proclamation allocation of two seats in its favor is already final and can no longer be disturbed, and that if at all it is the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal that now has the jurisdiction to decide these vexing questions of number of congressional seats. The past elections have been quite a mess nobody wants repeated!!
As to the fundamental question of whether we should adopt the automated election system for the 2016 elections as it now stands, I believe we should heed the growing clamor for a combination of manual counting and canvassing of votes on the one hand, and digital transmission of the same, on the other.
Let us acknowledge that, if our democracy is ever going to get a chance to work, the Filipino is KING FOR A DAY on election day, and nothing can be more sublimely precious than the certainty that his ballot was publicly read and counted on that day.

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