Playing with Fire

Let’s be friends again

By Gonzalo Duque

MAY 13 is the day of reckoning for all the candidates who used all their savvy and arsenals in order to outshine their opponents. After the elections, I hope that everything will return to normal–for friends to be in each other’s arm as friends.

In previous elections, there were those who accepted their fate. Those who did not, continue to protest and claim they were cheated.

In the Philippines, no one is admitting he lost the election as he was only cheated.

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As to the vote-buying brouhaha, the lawyer in me thinks only those with clean hands can file cases and go to court.

In law, the one that must be observed is the Latin phrase “en pari delicto”, which means in English” that only those with unsoiled hands can avail of the judicial remedy.

The winning and losing parties, knowing the rigors of politics that they all underwent–will of course cry foul if there exists a closely contested race.

I recall a time in my political career that the closest margin I witnessed was when I teamed up with then former Governor Aguedo Agbayani against OIC Governor Rafael Colet and his running-mate, a certain Montemayor, from the first district.

I won overwhelmingly against Montemayor but Agbayani lost to Colet by the closest of margin– 356. By coincidence, Agbayani lost in the third, fifth and sixth districts.

Because of the close margin, which is equivalent to the votes in three precincts, former Governor Agbayani filed a pre-proclamation protest, which was not settled at all.  In the ensuing battle in the next elections, Agbayani exacted his revenge over Colet to recapture the gubernatorial seat.

This was the only instance I’ve seen that a pre-proclamation protest became moot and academic. It was the longest pre-proclamation protest ever that lasted three years.

The case went back and forth in the Commission on Elections until it reached the Supreme Court. I think the High Court was not able to decide on the merit.

In that case, it was the distinction between a “tara” or chalk mark in the black board to indicate votes against the equivalent word written.

In deciding the case, the Comelec used as basis the book “Negotiable Instruments Law” authored by Agbayani himself that says when there is conflict between the “tara” and the written word, the latter will prevail. Ha, ha, ha! 

Agbayani ran to the Supreme Court.

By the way, in that election, Colet was then supported by the Iglesia ni Cristo. And yet, the margin of his victory was too small. Neither I did get support from INC and yet, I beat Montemayor by a landslide. The rest is now history!

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We recall that there were other candidates not backed by INC but yet they won. Recall that in 1992 presidential race, Danding Cojuangco was endorsed by INC, but it was our own Fidel Ramos who won, with Miriam Santiago in close second. Cojuangco was a poor third.

In 2016, it was Mark Cojuangco who was backed by INC in his run for governor. But he was beaten roundly by Pogi Espino III.

Recall too that in 2010, then Mayor Al Fernandez was leading as he had the INC behind him, but he lost his lead in one fell swoop because of the Bolosan incident when the group of one of his sons manhandled the campaigners of the other side.

When he first run for mayor after his one term in Congress, Benjie Lim was not backed by INC but still he won over then Vice Mayor Teddy Manaois.

In her fight to stay for one more term in office, I still go for Belen!        

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