Why Noynoy won’t leave Times St.

It used to be a calm middle class neighborhood spared from jeepneys and other modes of public transport. On a normal day, private vehicles would come and go very rarely. The sign of the times, however, indicate that it is also home to the press, politics, people, and later on, protests.

President-apparent Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III has repeatedly expressed that he wants to stay in his one-story home on No. 25 Times St., Quezon City while working as the President of the Republic of the Philippines. It’s for his “spiritual and psychological well-being,” he said in a recent press conference. As to what he really meant by that, the news didn’t elaborate.

Such statement could trigger the imagination of a playful, albeit wicked mind (like mine). Is there a customized mini-clinic for Noynoy on Times St.? An isolation room? Perhaps a cabinet full of drugs, syringes, plus cigarettes. Or his set of favorite DVDs and CDs which he can play whenever he wants instant escapism from nagging political affairs.

Or simply because he would be delirious and run amok in Malacañang because he would feel uncomfortable. He probably does not want to give the Palace a worse reputation and make it a bedlam after being the playground of little devil.

Whatever his reasons are, Noynoy obviously wants to keep it private.

Home to secret talks?

Just as how he kept talks with foreign dignitaries, including US ambassador Harry Thomas, private. As owner of the house, Noynoy definitely has the command on how and when media can cover him and his activities on Times St. The media can just rely on the visitor’s description of what went on inside after ambushing them as the gate opens.

Of course there are also closed door meetings in Malacañang, wherein members of the media are barred from covering the actual meet. But hosting talks on Times St. further complicates the public’s access to information and to President. Simply closing the gate would perfectly lead to a “closed gate meeting.” The private and the public becomes entangled in an orgy. Whatever happened to his often-uttered “transparency”?

It would appear that Noynoy becomes more accessible to the media and to the people in his home. But it’s actually not. It’s his private place.  If he really wants to “touch base” with the people and show transparency, he must live in Payatas, not in his middle class crib.

So will Times St. be also home to sweetheart privatization deals, planning of counter-insurgency measures, and pleasant talks with US envoys? Yes, it will.

Near Big Brothers’s house

Just as Malacañang has Kalayaan Hall (which holds the Office of the Press Secretary), Noynoy’s residence is a few meters away from media giant ABS-CBN’s main building. He can drive in just a breeze to the station’s news center whenever he has interviews or official declarations.

So does this mean that the state-run National Broadcasting Network should say goodbye to the airwaves? Let’s just wait and see.

If ever Noynoy wants to have guest appearances in Pinoy Big Brother (maybe to lecture housemates about “Daang Matuwid” or to simply take a dip at the pool to calm his nerves), then he can also do as he wish. But it would really be too much if he announces that he wants to make Big Brother’s house his second home.

Left’s election scorecard

(First published in the Philippine Online Chronicles)

It is certainly less newsy to say that traditional politicians have once again dominated the recently concluded May 10 elections. In this electoral game where name recall counts, political capital almost inherently resides in familiar family names.

But to say that the Left, which is usually marginalized in political affairs, has advanced both in electoral participation and mass support – that is something new to Philippine elections.

From left: Rep. Teddy Casiño (Bayan Muna), Rep. Satur Ocampo (Bayan Muna), Rep. Liza Maza (Gabriela), Rep. Paeng Mariano (Anakpawis), and late Rep. Crispin "Ka Bel" Beltran (Anakpawis).

A number of analytical pieces indicate that the national democratic (natdem) bloc (also called by some as Makabayan bloc) of the Philippine Left scored higher than other “left-wing” groups in the party-list race in terms of votes garnered. This is aside from the fact that the natdem-aligned party-list groups have grown in number over the years – from just one (Bayan Muna, 2001) to six.

According to Prof. Danilo Arao of the University of the Philippines-Diliman, the mass base of progressive party-lists or the natdem-aligned party-lists has increased by 30 percent. Arao computed this by comparing the total votes cast for these party-lists in 2007 and last May 10 elections.

Included in the progressive party-lists pointed out by Arao in his article are ACT TeachersAnakpawisBayan MunaGabriela Women’s PartyKabataan, and Katribu.

Increase in mass base by natdem-aligned party-lists could still be higher since votes for party-list groups are still partial (90.26 percent of election returns).

With a base of 2.88 million, the natdem bloc overshadows all other “leftist” groups which participated in the party-list race. It is almost three times (291 percent) larger than Akbayan, which has 986,924 votes and . More so, it is 22 times larger than Partido ng Manggagawa, which has only 130,039 votes.

According to Arao, Makabayan party-lists Gabriela Women’s Party, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Kabataan, and ACT Teachers are assured of one seat each. It remains to be seen whether Gabriela and Bayan Muna will have an additional seat each, depending on the final tally of total votes cast for party-lists as guaranteed by the April 2009 Supreme Court ruling.

The natdem bloc stands to gain five seats in the 15th Congress at the minimum and seven at the maximum.

Read more

>>View the map of votes for progressive partylists (c/o Vote Report)

A peek at Comelec’s canvassing

At the Philippine Internatioal Convention Center (PICC) where the canvassing of votes are being held, old yellow ballot boxes are trying to outshine the rising Precint Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.

But Friday’s session by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials sitting as members of the National Board of Canvassers proved that it was in vain. Contents of the ballot boxes (which are Certificates of Canvass or COCs in this case) contained concrete discrepancies.

To make things worse, the whole canvassing process, which is the next leg of the elections, seemed to be using shortcuts (unlike the naturally speedy counting of votes using automated machines).

Poll officials canvassed the whole day votes cast for senatorial and partylist bets by overseas absentee voters, opening one padlocked ballot box after another. Votes canvassed were from Canada, Belguim, France, Japan and South Korea.

The board cut short the canvassing of votes from Jordan after noticing a discrepancy: Alliance of Bicolnon Party (ABP, #35) was printed again at number 80, a spot supposedly for Alliance of Mindanao Elders (AME).

The session went into a break after spotting the discrepancy to countercheck the election returns from Jordan. The board of canvassers then ruled out that votes corresponding number 80 should be for AME, not for ABP.

Continue reading

From Multiply and beyond

I never thought I was actually blogging when I used my Multiply site to vent out criticisms of major political events or to narrate experiences inside the university. Initially, I considered such  almost daily exercise as part of maintaining sanity – letting my cramped mind breathe.  But later on, it became a muscle-flexing exercise for propaganda work. Nothing personal could be shielded from the political, the often-used expression among activist circles finally sank in during my junior year.

I am not really at ease with using the word “blogging” to describe this exercise, for such concept has long been degraded by junkie bloggers who blab about everything under the sun. But in the absence of another word, I’ll just say that I am “blogging” again with an effort to be relevant to the greater community outside the blogosphere.

So why chrocarlos? This blog was initially intended for my Philippine Online Chronicles articles (thus Chronicles of Carlos — chrocarlos). Why blog again? To maximize “democratic spaces” for politically significant musings as long as I am online. For whom? Not for me, but for you.

Mayhem on May 10 on the horizon

A few days before the May 10 elections. Machine glitches in reading votes. Recall of  memory cards from counting machines. No cellphone signals at nearly 5,000 polling precints.

An election news round-up by the Manila Bulletin Reportorial Team said precint count optical scan (PCOS) machines during today’s mock polls failed to read the actual votes cast. In most cases, the PCOS machines failed to read votes for certain candidates.

PCOS machines used during the mock polls in some Makati schools only counted votes for mayoral candidates Erwin Genuino and Agapito Aquino while those of mayoralty bets Councilor Jejomar Erwin “Jun-jun” Binay Jr. and Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado were not counted by the machines, the report said.

The same error happened in Taguig, wherein votes for a congressional candidate were not read by the PCOS machines. The problem was uncovered when the automated count did not match the parallel manual count.

In Occidental Mindoro, something weirder happened: votes for top presidential bets Sen. Manuel “Manny” Villar Jr. and Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III went to Lakas-Kampi-CMD bet Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro in the automated counting.

Read more