‘Robbing’ Zambo voters; squelching sari-sari stores

May 19, 2019

Crackpots, clowns, and knuckleheads.

Can our elections be complete without them?

This is the downside of a true democracy and tolerant society.

Such democratic and open society must accommodate even the absurd, extreme, zany, and zonked out participants in a free and inclusive electoral process.

Just look at the emerging membership profile of the Senate as half of its seats would soon be occupied by some of these characters.

Even in the local races nuisance candidates are the preferred weapon of mass destruction to confuse, confound, and corner voters to deprive a leading bet of an insurmountable lead or margin.

But clowns belong to circuses, jesters to royal courts, and nuisance candidates to the electoral dust bin.

Clowns and jesters provide amusement or entertainment to an appreciative audience; nuisance candidates, however, are not a laughing matter, especially to those targeted for deprivation of votes.

And so why do Election authorities seem to be uncommonly accommodating to these undesirable characters who unabashedly turn up from out of nowhere and serially convert our elections into a circus or carnival?

Residents of Zamboanga del Norte are definitely not amused by the idea; in fact, no one among them are laughing.

***

PedXing noted that as of press time, a disqualified nuisance candidate in Zamboanga del Norte’s gubernatorial contest is reported to be in third place in a field of about six aspirants – right behind the two frontrunners.

The nuisance candidate managed to garner more than 20,000 votes.  Zamboangueños are upset because it looks like the failure of the Commission on Election to act fast enough and prevent this nuisance candidate from getting his name printed in the ballot may have misled these more than 20,000 voters to vote for him.

They now ask, were these 20,000-plus Zamboangueños “robbed” of their right and chance to exercise their power to choose who will govern them?

A few weeks ago, this corner noted that certain political “strategists” have brought an age-old tactic back into the 2019 polls. This is the practice of fielding a candidate with the same name as the frontrunner. The aim of this tactic is clear: mislead voters. The presence of a “tukayo” or namesake in the ballot confused voters and many of them end up casting their votes in favor of the namesake rather than for the frontrunner.

Whoever fielded the Zamboanga del Norte nuisance candidate for governor got lucky. They found one with the exact first name, family name and even nickname as that of the frontrunner – incumbent Governor Roberto “Berto” Uy.

Media focused on this particular issue to find out of this “good old” reliable method of confusing voters would still work this year. Local residents were shocked to find out the tactic still works, and the Zamboanga del Norte case is proof.

As tackled previously here, the Comelec itself later declared the second “Roberto Uy” a nuisance candidate. The poll body said it believed that this person had no genuine intention of becoming governor of the province. “He is unknown in the political scene and no prior experience as an elective public official,” the Comelec itself said in its ruling. Clearly, he had no intention of winning the election and fulfilling the role and job of a provincial governor.

But of course, How can he? Based on information from the ground, the nuisance candidate was a garbage collector who was just lucky he had the same full name as the incumbent governor. The garbage man, reports alleged, was quickly placed in the payroll of a local government in that province, and then made to file a certificate of candidacy.

The garbage man’s legal team (a powerhouse of lawyers, reports said) managed to ensure that his name would get into the ballot. By the time the Comelec decided he was a nuisance candidate, the ballots were already printed.

However, it looked like the well-oiled machinery of this garbage collector has a well-laid out plan. His team knew exactly how to take advantage of computerized elections where all that the voter needed to do was to mark the number in the ballot of the candidate of his choice.

Here is the new feature of this confusion tactic: the nuisance bet’s campaign team, reports said, proceeded to plaster the province with tarps and leaflets with faces of the real “Roberto Uy” and the number in the ballot of the disqualified nuisance candidate.

Clearly, it was a campaign of confusion and misinformation.

The real “Roberto Uy” – the frontrunning incumbent governor – appears to have won the elections anyway. Latest reports indicated he still had won hands down with a margin of over five thousand votes. The governor is lucky that he enjoys the overwhelming support of the people of his province. Imagine if that were not the case. What if the margin were slim and he and his closest rival would have had to battle it out for the last vote?

Reports said many supporters of the winning governor are angry. The governor should have won by more than 25,000 votes if the Comelec had acted fast enough and prevented the nuisance candidate from getting his name on the printed ballot, they say.

That is a valid and important point which the Comelec must pay attention to.

However, the more important concern is the 20,000-plus voters who ended up marking the number in the ballot of the disqualified nuisance candidate. It is safe to presume that most of those votes were intended for the “Roberto Uy” whom the voters know, who has served them well and who has the proven ability to perform the functions of the office.

PedXing is inclined to believe that these 20,000-plus voters were the victims of the campaign of deception and confusion.  The Comelec is also well within its power to have prevented this. The failure to do so may have robbed these 20,000-plus Filipinos of their right to express their will through the power of the ballot.

Therefore, the Comelec and our lawmakers must do something right away to prevent this tactic from being used again in future elections.

In disqualifying the nuisance candidate Uy, the Comelec said “to allow him to run would certainly lead to confusion”. If the Comelec knew that, why did his name get printed in the ballot anyway? Did the Comelec unwittingly allowed for the confusion?

As of press time there are reports that the Comelec has not proclaimed the real “Roberto Uy” yet as winner in last week’s elections.

Zamboangueños are hoping that this delay in the proclamation of their governor would not result in another instance where they are “robbed” of their right to express their collective will.

***

All economics is micro; all politics is local, Mangkokolum loves to assert here.

If so, it follows that micro-enterprises generate marginal revenues, and local governments have to deal with this economic reality when crafting policies and regulations governing the operations of small businesses.

Miniature establishments do not mind putting up with business rules and regulations for as long as they are acceptable and allow them a reasonable margin of profit.

But when local regulations approach or even approximate the ridiculous, then the whole idea of doing business is a big joke.

But small store owners are not laughing at all, in fact, they are up in arms against Local Government Units which seem to be mounting a coordinated and well calibrated campaign to slowly, painfully, decimate the ranks of retailers in both urban and rural areas.

The tiny trader’s struggle to survive is best expressed in the language they and their customer based understand.

Dumadaing ang mga may-ari ng Sari-Sari Stores sa unti-unting pagbagsak ng kanilang maliit na negosyo dahil sa pagiging “anti-small and medium enterprises” ng ordinansang ipinatutupad ng mga lokal na pamahalaan.

Ito ang hinaing ng mga miyembro ng Kapisanan ng mga Sari-Sari Stores sa Pilipinas Inc. sa ginanap na pagpupulong upang ipanawagan kay Pangulong Duterte ang pinangangambahang pagsasara ng mga may-ari ng Sari-Sari Stores na posibleng magdulot ng pagdami ng mga walang trabaho at makadaragdag sa bilang ng mga mahihirap sa bansa.

Kaugnay ito sa mga ordinansang ipinatutupad ng local governments tulad ng Mandaluyong, Quezon City at Muntinlupa na kung saan halos lahat ng tinitinda sa isang sari-sari store ay ipinagbabawal ng bilhin.

Ayon kay Francis Manuel, tumatayong Pangulo ng KASAPI, matindi ang epekto ng mga ordinansang ipinatutupad ng mga ito na mistulang pumapatay sa mga maliliit na negosyo.

Gaya na lamang sa Quezon City na ipinagbabawal na sa mga tindahan ang pagbebenta ng junk food at sugary drinks sa ilalim ng City Ordinance 279-2017  o ang tinatawag na “Anti-Junk food and Sugary Drinks Ordinance of 2017” na nakapaloob sa 100 metro na layo mula sa mga public at private school.

Dahil dito, humina ang benta sa mga tindahan dahil ang mga pinagbabawal na pagkain ang siyang pinakamabili.

Gayundin sa Mandaluyong City at Muntinlupa City, dahil sa pagkakapanalo ng dalawang nasabing lungsod sa Red Orchid Award na ipinagkaloob ng Department of Health bilang tugon sa 100 percent tobacco-free policy na siyang ng DOH Administrative Order No. 10.

Mas lalong pinatindi ng Mandaluyong City ang ipinasang Ordinance No 671, S-2017 o “Comprehensive Smoke Free Ordinance” na kung saan maaari ng kumpiskahin at tanggalin ang mga sigarilyo  kabilang ang mga materyales para sa promosyon nito kapag; nagbenta sa menor de edad, nagbenta ng paaralan at pasilidad ng gobyerno, pagbebenta ng tingi o per stick, pag-display ng sigarilyo sa open shelves.

Ani Manuel, kung babasahin ang nakapaloob sa nilagdaan ni Pangulong Duterte na Executive Order No 26 ay ang sinasabi rito ay mahigpit na ipinagbabawal ang paninigarilyo sa lahat ng pampublikong lugar at  maaari lang manigarilyo sa mga enclosed places o sa itinakdang mga lugar.

Idinagdag pa nito, sa naturang ordinansa hindi ito nakakatulong sa pag-unlad ng lungsod kapag tuluyang magsara ang mga sari-sari stores siyang may pinakamaraming bilang na itinatayo sa bansa.

Aniya, kinonsulta sana ng pamahalaan lokal ang mga may-ari ng sari-sari stores upang marinig ang kanilang panig at mailahad ang posibleng epekto ng ordinansa sa maliit na negosyo.  

Kaya't nangangambahan ni Manuel na mas dadami pa ang mahihirap at mawawalan ng trabaho na magiging pasan-pasan ng pamahalaan.

Behold God’s glory and seek His mercy.

Pause and pray, people.