Punchline

The loud bang at the senate

By Ermin Garcia Jr.

 

LAST Wednesday, what was thought to be another dull and uneventful hearing at the Senate, turned out to be as explosive as the day DU30 was declared a runaway winner in the 2016 elections.

Atty. Glenn Chong, a former congressman and a staunch advocate of clean elections, caught both Comelec and Smartmatic officials off-guard when he gave a what was expected to be another dull presentation with highfalutin technical process.

As he started to detail data and accompanying technical process involved in the transmittal of votes cast via internet to and from the Bicol region, he was beginning to bore the senators and the Comelec and Smartmatic officials in the seated inside the hall. Everything was exactly what the doctor ordered, ho-hum… everything until he started underscoring the dates. Then, boom! He reported a transmittal on May 8, the day before the voting precincts opened for voting!

Suddenly, the senate hall was agog. The Comelec and Smartmatic officials were dumbfounded, looked at each other like they lost their tongues.  If one could read their minds and body language, those in the know said: “How did they get to know that?”  And those who were absolutely clueless could only wonder: “Is that true?”

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IT’S IN THE DATE, NOT IN THE BALLOT. The hearing was about suspicions, reports and speculations about cheating during 2016 elections. 

It was not the first time that the Senate conducted hearings to discuss allegations and suspicions, so everyone simply went about the proceedings nonchalantly. 

Little did they know that Atty. Chong knew and understood technical facts of transmittal logs via computers. And discussing cheating is the month’s flavor as Bongbong Marcos’ poll protest vs. proclaimed winner VP Leni Robredo shifts to high gear.

When Atty. Chong mentioned towns in Bicol region, that still did not alarm anyone. To the less astute political observer, the presentation was thought as how a favored candidate can win in his or her bailiwick, in this case a preview of how Ms. Robredo legitimately earned her winning votes. Wrong.

As Atty.  Chong continued to describe the process, everything he said was received with quiet approval and agreement until he underscored one fact-  that  Comelec and Smartmatic authorized to lock out computers on May 5 and that the actual start of the transmittal of the computers started on May 9, as prescribed by law. Naturally, both Comelec and Smartmatic confirmed that the process was correct. Then came the hard and embarrassing, incriminating question: Explain who, where and how did a transmission on May 8 to 459 precincts get recorded! Boom!

There was silence from the corner of the Comelec and Smartmatic officials but that was quickly replaced by some applause in the audience. The Comelec and Smartmatic officials knew they were literally caught with their pants down! The look on their faces was a moment to remember. A deadly political bomb just exploded in their midst.

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NEWS BLACKOUT. But that was not the end of the story.

Just when most political pundits and observers believed that the headlines of the day’s evening news would all be about the Chong expose. Wrong.  There was nothing about the senate hearing, much less about Atty. Chong’s expose. There was not single mention about the indefensible proof of electoral fraud as if the senate hearing never happened. Only posts on Facebook about the incident were becoming viral but even this was quickly stopped FB removed the posts ostensibly on the pretext that these posts were reported as spam and fake news.

National TV, radio and national and regional dailies did not have a single mention that the hearing took place.  How could such a nerve-wracking news be ignored or be missed? Still, on Friday morning, still nothing on mainstream media.

Meanwhile, social media trolls of the opposition were quick to downplay the expose by targeting Atty. Chong himself, discrediting his past and exposing him as a polluted source being a lawyer for Bongbong Marcos, a claim Atty. Chong vehemently denied.

There will be another hearing on Wednesday. It’ll be a curious thing how the Comelec officials who conspired with the Smartmatic officials will explain and wiggle out of the most incriminating evidence on electoral fraud.

This time, there were no missing or burned or stolen ballot boxes to prove the cheating. Instead, it was an invisible transmission that only few human hands and hundreds of machines that made it possible, but tracked! Beat that!!

More curiouser is the fact that the weaponized clergy of the Catholic Church were ominously quiet about it. Just as they were quick to react and condemn a sensational news report on the war on drugs, this time they just decide to be holy and didn’t dare defend and bemoan the attempt to trample the democratic process.

I encourage our readers to closely monitor the events as these unfold at the senate next week. Know how cheating has come of age…. and caught.

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RESILIENT TO A FAULT. Now that rains are gone, roads have been cleared of flood debris, one can sense the sudden loss of urgency and concern of Pangasinenses over possible repeat of the disastrous flooding that hit them.

It’s still what our resiliency as a people is known for. It is our tendency to quickly bounce back from anything close to tragic disaster. In fact, it is our resiliency that that never teaches us to learn lessons about being unprepared for future disastrous situations. We simply move on and continue to ignore the ominous signs of more serious threats to our lives and properties ahead thrown our way by nature.

Yet, at the height of the knee-high to waist-high flooding, most everyone offered a logical explanation for it, never mind that few understood how PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration to you) operates. At the end of the day, most would just be consoled that there was water and power in homes, and food on the table.

I do hope that this time we acknowledge the need to come together to continue to study and plan how to avoid and minimize the impact of flooding that is becoming more severe each time.

Fortunately for the city, the sanggunian is taking the next step to find the solution and other options. But what is unfortunate about it is that the only thing that the city can act on are stand-alone initiatives. For such a course of action, it can only be considered palliative in nature because the city’s neighboring towns whose excess flow into the city are not considering remedial actions for themselves.

Nonetheless, the initial solution offered by Councilor Joey Tamayo is by no mean a small measure. If the city can convince the national government to put a three-year flood control development plan in place that will mitigate the disastrous effect of flooding, we are off to a better tomorrow.

To Dagupeños who cannot think and see beyond “blame politics”, they can do the city a big favor by just keeping their mouths shut and allow those who dare think for out of the box solutions to do their thing with the least distraction from them.

Hopefully, Guv Pogi will take the cue and lead the way to for a more comprehensive flood control plan for the province if the provincial government is to be believed that Pangasinan is the best place to live in in spite of climate change.

It’d be inspirational on his part if he can rally the province to move as one in helping ourselves become flood-free.

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