Daily Tribune - 50% shade of grey

17 July 2018

By  Dean de la Paz | Daily Tribune

Had Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares succumbed to enticements, then no cheating would have been necessary, including this ludicrous debate on whether a fourth of a shade to a half-penciled ballot signified voter intent valid enough to be counted.

Reminiscent of the debate among “dings, dents and dimples” in the Florida Vice Presidential contest in 2000, the controversy is at the core of questions of legitimacy surrounding the vice presidency.

Political absurdity is nothing new. In choosing a vice presidential running mate in 2016, the three letters that comprised Llamanzares’ maiden name were all that the then ruling party wanted. And for a presidential candidate who would as readily propose marriage on a low-brow variety show catering to idle housekeepers, neither kitsch nor crudity was beneath a traditional politician’s bag of tricks.

Ambition can be so compelling. So can self-delusion.

Leonora Robredo, the current veep, is hanging by a thread to the position the Liberal Party had won for her amid accusations of electoral fraud on one end and an incredibly slim margin over her contender on another.

The position of being a spare tire is not one usually fought for and for which millions are spent to challenge or defend. If the chances of using the post as a springboard to the presidency within the current term are next to nil, then the odds do not justify the millions in expenses.

Unless the podium that the position offers is far more important than the office itself.

Consider what the Vice Presidency means to the Liberal Party.

The current VP is their highest-level detractor. Her recent self-crowning as Queen Oppositionist validates that. While democratic debate is necessary, her opposition is not only carried on official government podiums and unofficially in public demonstrations, but it is on government time and bankrolled by government coffers.

There is nothing wrong with casting one’s lot among those who would have the president unseated legally. But when one is the direct beneficiary of such unseating, then there is something basically self-serving in her choice of alignments.

Such dysfunctionality is admittedly a product of a system that allows it. Again, there is nothing illegal about it for as long as the VP is, indeed, legitimately seated and is the valid choice of the same electorate founding the presidency.

That choice must, however, be clear and definitive if she is to be a counterfoil that the people chose and warranted a fiscalizer in her person. The complexity boils down to the intent of the electorate reflected in the ballots.

Unfortunately, that is where various shades of grey create doubt. Literally and figuratively.

In her political bailiwick where instances of massive voter fraud, lost documents and records and electoral tampering surfaced, including insidious acts to conceal crimes and conspiracies, Robredo wants the 25 percent shading of an oval smaller than the left eye of a fly declared as a clear, definitive and resounding vote.

That benefits her. It jives with the same shading protocols designed by the then-ruling Liberal Party under a former Commission on Elections chairman now in hiding.

In mathematics, however, 25 percent the size of a quantum speck of dust is nowhere near the definition of substance, much less certainty. Unfortunately, politics is not as logical. It can be stupid. And it often is.

In the face of absurdity, consider other factors underpinning Robredo’s claim to legitimacy.

Robredo was Plan B. Poe was Plan A. The Liberal Party had no choice. Her name recall was based on her late husband’s. Before the 2016 elections, she was unknown outside Luzon.

Her running mate was hounded for his colossal incompetence in all positions handed him by an equally incompetent executive.

The surveys validated the public’s perception, contrived images of fake empathy, hugging the elderly and other tasteless stunts notwithstanding.

These justify the more stringent 50 percent shading measure for protests, especially necessary where one political party’s desperation required desperate measures.