Archive for May, 2010

WHAT EXACTLY IS THE TOTAL NUMBER OF REGISTERED VOTERS IN THE PHILIPPINES?

Posted in Governance, Politics and Politicians with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 27, 2010 by Ruffy Biazon

What’s the exact number of registered voters in the country in the May 10, 2010 elections? Initial canvass reports in the Senatorial Canvass showed 153,902,003 Filipino voters. The Canvassing and Consolidation Server (CCS) in the Presidential and Vice Presidential Canvass indicated that there are 256,733,195 registered voters.

Which of the two is the correct number? Actually, both are wrong.

Without even checking references, one would immediately know that both figures are incorrect because it is common knowledge that the Philippine population is just about 89 million. Since these figures are supposed to be system generated (meaning that they are automatically produced by the program of the Consolidation and Canvassing Server), these can be called defects of the product supplied by Smartmatic. Or in a more benign-sounding techie terminology, these are “glitches”.


Photo at left shows the Report No 1 of the National Canvass Report for Senator, certified by three Comelec Commissioners indicating the wrong number of registered voters in the Philippines. Photo at right is the close up of the document. The error in the CCS of the Presidential/Vice Presidential Canvass was the subject of discussion between Senate President Enrile and Smartmatic officer Cesar Flores during the first day of canvassing.

The “glitches” did not go unnoticed, though. In the senatorial canvass, representatives of the candidates, not having outgrown the habit of closely scrutinizing canvass documents during old, manual system where errors were aplenty, went over the system-generated report (which is supposed to be reliable because of less human intervention) and discovered the incorrect entry.

Comelec and Smartmatic officials apologized for the glitch, promising to correct it. Most of those in the canvassing teams of the candidates brushed it off, although when it was reported to me by my staff, I took a little bit more serious note of it. This was during the morning session of the canvassing.

When the Board of Canvassers (BOC) printed out the afternoon report, the first thing my staff did was to check if the error was corrected. It was not. It was then that I decided I had to go to the PICC to personally check on the documents and inquire about the process. At that time, I didn’t know it was a system generated report.

At the PICC, I was able to talk to Cesar Flores and I conveyed to him my support for an automated election. I then queried him about the reports that are being generated, particularly the reports per province as they are received by the BOC, because there are no reports being generated. The BOC simply reports out the consolidated tally, without us knowing the breakdown of results per province, unlike in the old system where you know the results that come in per province and you can cross check it with your field reports.

After our short chat, I was informed by my staff that the afternoon report was not corrected. It still contained the error in registered voters. I was also able to talk to a Comelec technical person who told me the Canvass Reports are system generated and that they will look into the error. After getting non-responsive answers to my questions, I left my staff to monitor the canvassing further.

When it was revealed through a report by Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile that a similar error was found in the CCS of the Presidential / Vice Presidential Canvass Board, red flags were raised in my head. Two separate systems, one error. But the curious thing is that while the nature of the errors were the same, the outcomes were different.

Of course, when both errors were discovered, the logical thing to do was to correct them. Not only was it logical, it was imperative. So the CCS in the Senatorial Canvass was corrected and the registered voters in the CCS of the Presidential /Vice Presidential Canvass was adjusted.

Most people settled down after those assuring actions were made. But wait, hold your horses!

In the canvass of the senatorial race, which has the same voting constituency as the President and Vice President, the figure that was indicated in the Total Registered Voters field after the correction was 51, 317, 073. Below is an image of the document, National Canvass Report No. 3 indicating the new number of registered voters which was used all the way through to Report No. 8.

But as revealed in the discussion during the first day of canvass for President and vice President, the figure that Smartmatic and Comelec used in correcting the erroneous entry in the number of registered voters is 51,292,465. I remember Senator Enrile asking what figure they used to change the wrong entry and if they were sure with the number as I was listening to the proceedings in the radio. True enough, those figures are the ones reported in the news.

With the two Consolidation and Canvassing Servers once again having differing numbers of registered voters, I decided to check which one was accurate. Where else will I turn to but the Commission on Elections? So I visited their website and clicked on the page where the registered voters were indicated.

Lo and behold, a figure different from both numbers appears in the website of the Comelec itself. In their tally, there are 50,723,733 registered voters in the Philippines as January 2010. To my knowledge, the last day of registration was October 31, 2009 per Comelec Resolution No. 8585, so this should be the correct figure. There couldn’t have been additional voters between January 2010 and February 9, 2010 when the campaign period started. Besides, this is the Comelec’s website, which should be updated with the latest data considering the importance of their work now.

Image of the Comelec website indicating a figure for registered voters different from both the CCS from the Senatorial Canvass and the CCS from the Presidential / Vice Presidential Canvass.

I wanted to give it the benefit of the doubt. After all, it might be that the COmelec website was not updated. So I did a double checking using a document I knew to be reliable (or it should be, unless it, too, is faulty). I referred to the Certificate of Canvass in my District, Muntinlupa City.

I checked the registered voters in Mutninlupa as indicated in the Certificate of Canvass for that city, certified by the City Board of Canvassers. It indicated that Muntinlupa City’s registered voters totaled to 291,333, as shown in the image below:

I cross-checked it with the figure in the Comelec website and they matched:

This shows that the data on the Comelec appears to be the correct data since the information pertaining to Muntinlupa City’s voting population is the same with the information contained in the Certificate of Canvass for the same city.

The question now is how come the information in the two Consolidation and Canvassing Servers are not only different from the information in the Comelec website but even different from each other?

It appears that three official sources have their own data with regard to the total number of voting population that the Philippines has. Smartmatic downplays the error in the Presidential and Vice Presidential Canvass as “innocent glitches”. But the fact that it happened also in the Senatorial canvass gives it a more than just an “innocent glitch” flavor. In addition, the error in the Presidential / Vice Presidential Canvass was discovered ahead of the one in the Senatorial Canvass which was even included in the first two reports signed by the Comelec Commissioners. That negligence caused the Comelec Commissioners to affix their seal of approval on something that was erroneous on something as basic as the total registered voters. In the case of the CCS for President and Vice President, the error was found out only after the Senate President did his official task of initializing the server.

Let me clarify though, that even if it does not take a genius to figure out how this error could be used for cheating, I am not saying that these observations are enough to suspect cheating. I am not looking at this as an indication of fraud but rather as an indication of sloppy work on the part of the supplier of the system.

But as the explanation was given that the program mistakenly added the voting population of each level of the reporting (from PCOS to Municipal Board to Provincial Board to National Board, etc.) the layman in me has enough common sense to question that it would take major programming “error” to mistakenly put into the program an instruction to add a mathematical formula (either addition or multiplication) in a field that is supposed to be static.

The so-called IT experts of Smartmatic and (those who worship them) want us to believe and take in hook line and sinker all that they say. I would want to, but I only believe something after it has passed scrutiny using my educated and ignorant questions. So far, some of their answers to questions have only bred more questions (like Mr. Flores’ explanation about the wrong date stamps on ERs being caused by clocks resetting while in transit. I countered that if a clock is reset, it is reset to a default “beginning of time” such as 01/01/1900 and not just resetting to a few days or few months back from the correct time. But that’s another story…)

Once more, with feeling…I am not complaining that I was cheated. I am not accusing anyone of cheating. But I do say that there’s enough to accuse someone of sloppy work. Sloppy work that the Filipino people are going to pay more than 7 Billion Pesos for.

Some people would probably ask, what should we do then? Well, I say we tell those who are responsible that they have sloppy work and tell them that right in their faces. Then we find ways to penalize them. Because if we take a lackadaisical attitude towards this negligence (or much worse, if we take their side and even defend their errors), it will surely come back and thumb its nose in our faces again in 2013.

I’m Still for Automation in 2013

Posted in Politics and Politicians with tags , , , , , on May 24, 2010 by Ruffy Biazon

We just concluded another session of the hearing in Congress regarding the 2010 Elections. Incidentally, the hearing is entitled, “The May 10, 2010 Automated Elections : An Assessment “.

This means that the hearing is convened not just as a venue for those complaining about alleged election fraud. It also serves to see how the Automated Election System, Smartmatic and Comelec performed in the recent elections. That’s why I’m participating in the hearing, not to complain, but to do an assessment coming from the point of view of a candidate and policy maker.

As I was going out of the hearing room, I was asked by a reporter, “Sir, do you still think that we should automate the elections in 2013?” My immediate answer is “Yes, I think we should still automate the elections in 2013!”

The reporter seemed to have been expecting a different answer. “Sir, aren’t you concerned that with all of the allegations coming out in this hearing, there will be cheating again in 2013?” She added that with the critical questions I’ve been asking it seemed that I was against automation.

“I want automated elections”, I said. “With the manual system, I already know there’s cheating and it’s difficult to control that because at every step of the way, there is human intervention. And that’s the dangerous part, human intervention.” I went further to tell her that all we need to do with the Automated Election System is to put into place additional safeguards and correct its flaws in order to become more reliable and secure. If we can design it in such a way that there is least opportunity for human intervention, it would be good for us.

I further reminded the reporter that at this time, all we are listening to are allegations of fraud which have yet to be pursued through the legal processes and proven as actually having occurred. “We should look at these hearings as an opportunity to answer questions that could either clarify issues or improve the system.”

I believe the best time to do the evaluation is immediately after the elections where the interest and desire to look into the issues are still high. If we let months pass by, it will surely be relegated to the dustbin of our memories and remain unresolved, only to be pulled out again as an issue that needs to be addressed at the last minute before the next elections.

I would like to see automated elections in this country succeed. That is why I’m asking my questions during these hearings because I want it to be implemented in the next elections. I don’t want to give naysayers a reason to say that the system is a hopelessly flawed system and therefore, the justification to go back to the manual method.

With only about a month left in my term, I would like to be able to do my part as a policy maker, an overseer of the people’s interest in Congress, and earn my pay by doing my duty up to the very last day. This is not about whining after a defeat. It is about doing my sworn duty and contributing to the security of the next generation’s future.

In the Philippines, There Are No Victims of Cheating, Just Sore Losers

Posted in Politics and Politicians with tags , , , , , on May 23, 2010 by Ruffy Biazon

At the risk of sounding too redundant and defensive, I would like to once again categorically state that I have long accepted the fact that I did not make it to the circle of winning senators in the recently concluded elections and that I have not filed any protest case to question the results. I want to make that clear in order to preclude any judgment on what I write in this article.

There has never been an election in the Philippines where there isn’t anyone who cries “I’ve been cheated” after losing their electoral race. Immediately after the proclamations, or sometimes even before, you will hear candidates howl in protest against what they claim are votes that have been stolen from them. Some engage in mass action, some use the media, while others take legal action and file electoral protests in the courts, the Comelec or the electoral tribunals.

Indeed, these accusations of cheating has become as regular as the elections itself that Filipinos, with our brilliance in satire and sarcasm, came up with a cliché—“In Philippine elections there are no losers…just the winners and the cheated”. Perhaps many would agree to that statement, fueled by the seemingly inherent disdain for politicians.

With that kind of attitude towards losing politicians, we can take the cliché even further. We can even say that in the Philippines, there are no victims of cheating…just sore losers. After all, that’s how we look at those claiming that they’ve been cheated—sore losers.

But there lies the contradiction. While we look down upon those who claim to have been cheated, we also believe as truth that in the Philippines, there are politicians who get to where they are because of cheating. The disdain that people have of politicians who claim to have been cheated is the same disdain that people have of politicians who are generally seen as cheaters, liars and stealers.

So in a society where people generally believe that politicians cheat and yet dismiss as sore losers those who claim to have been cheated, where will a victim of cheating get justice? We might as well abolish the mechanism of filing election protests.

Even the Comelec, which is mandated to ensure clean and honest elections, easily dismiss those who claim to have been cheated. The most recent example is the 2010 elections where we see claims of fraud and cheating being treated lightly, even with ridicule, by Comelec officials. Instead of lending at least a listening ear, they greet the complaints with sarcastic tongues.

We seem to have been pushed to callousness in our attitudes towards election cheating to the point that while we accept as reality that there are cheaters in our midst, we do not care enough to act on eradicating it.

After the experience of my father with Dagdag-Bawas in 1995 and Hello Garci in 2004, I can empathize with those who cry foul during elections, although I am certain that not all have real basis to make the claim. But there are those who do have experienced the injustice of having been victimized. After all the money spent and the sweat, tears and sometimes even blood that they have shed, losing candidates do have a right to cry for justice if they feel aggravated. Of course, that right is accompanied by the obligation and responsibility to justify their claim.

Automation of the counting seems to be our placebo, with the quick reporting of results lulling us into the belief that cheating has been eradicated in the country. We must remember that the PCOS machines did not wipe away from this earth those whose objectives are to be able to make the elections have a predetermined outcome and benefit from that ability, whether to earn money or win a position. The PCOS machine did not drive away the evil mind which will use its creativity to attain its ends.

Let me state for the record that I am all for automation. I was one of those who supported and pushed for the passage of the automation law and am grateful to have been part of the Congress which passed it.

Cheating in elections has always been driven by the intentions of men, not the abilities of the system. The manual system or the automated system are just neutral tools to be used to achieve the goal of recording the votes. It is the human hand behind the tool which will determine if it will be a tool for evil or righteousness.

While I am not casting doubt on the integrity of the Commisison on Elections’ present commissioners and officials, let us not forget that history has shown us that evil intent knows no boundaries and may penetrate even the high levels of leadership. It is up to us whether we allow that to prosper or not. As another cliché goes, all that is needed for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.

In conclusion, let me restate that I have moved on as far as my candidacy is concerned. In fact, I am looking forward to the future and will prepare for the next challenge by looking back to the past to review where I made mistakes in order to learn from them.

It is in the same vein that I am hoping we are not overwhelmed by the euphoria of the quick election results and lulled into a sense of security that henceforth, cheating has been rendered extinct.

Now is the time for us to thoroughly review this automated election system. Every observation of a flaw, whether real or perceived, should be looked into. Complaints of cheating using the system, whether believable or not, should be given the benefit of close scrutiny and not mere dismissal. Because if we fail to ensure that this system is cured of any flaw, then we will all be guilty of passing on a legacy of flawed elections to the next generation.

SMARTMATIC’S NEGLIGENCE TAINTS CREDIBILITY OF AES

Posted in Governance, Politics and Politicians with tags , , , , , on May 20, 2010 by Ruffy Biazon

A curious thing was revealed during the inquiry conducted by the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms. When Smartmatic was asked why there are election returns which bear dates different from the date of the election, they responded by saying that this is a negligible error in that one can still determine the activities of the PCOS machines since the audit logs will show the time frame that it was active.

Simply put, Smartmatic is saying that as long as the audit logs show that the PCOS machine was active only during an twelve-hour period corresponding to the official voting and counting schedule of the elections, there is nothing to be concerned about the election returns having a wrong date and time stamp.

The Smartmatic official’s reply merited not only a terse but a harsh retort from an obviously irritated chairman of the committee Congressman Teddy Locsin Jr., who pointed out that the official’s answer was “ridiculous”. He observed that the erroneous dates on the ER is a breach of security for the election returns. I totally agree.

Logically, the importance of the date stamp on the election returns cannot be downplayed. It is supposed to be the proof that the ballots were read and counted on election day, May 10, 2010. In the old, manual system, the dates manually written determines whether a document is credible or not. In an automated system, it should not be any different. The machine should correctly and faithfully record date and time of the activities of the machine.

Smartmatic tried to downplay the presentation of ERs with wrong dates by saying that with more than 80,000 machines being deployed from their warehouse in Cabuyao where the dates of the machines are supposed to be programmed, there is bound to be a certain percentage which will have errors. What percentage they deem allowable and how many they have actually found to have wrong dates, they did not reveal.

To me, it is an unacceptable excuse. It speaks of poor quality control and security on their part. Setting the correct time in the internal clock of each PCOS machine is an act that should be part of standard operating procedures especially in quality control for such expensive and high-tech equipment. It is expected that it is part of their S.O.P. for the clocks to be programmed in the correct setting before the units are sent to the different jurisdictions.

What makes it really unacceptable is that the law, Republic Act 9369, commonly known as the Automated Elections Law, prescribes that the election returns “shall also show the date of the election” (Section 32). In Section 2 of the law, where terms are defined, Election Return is defined as “a document in electronic and printed form directly produced by the counting machine, showing the date of the election…”

In the election return churned out by the PCOS machine, the only space provided for the manual entry of information are spaces for the signatures of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) and the pollwatchers. There is no space for manual entry of the date because the intention is for the machine to automatically put a date and time stamp on the document, supposedly as an added measure of security against fraud.

In my own district there were seven election returns with wrong dates. I won overwhelmingly in my district, placing first among all the senatorial candidates (yes, including all the actors), and my father also won in all precincts. But I do not hesitate to question the performance of Smartmatic particularly on the issue of the wrong date/time stamps. I can perfectly understand the outburst of Cong. Teddy Locsin against the Smartmatic officials, especially since he personally pushed hard for the automated elections.

But such negligence should not be tolerated. Smartmatic should be sanctioned for this irresponsible act which now jeopardizes the credibility of the automated election system and possibly even its results. It would be unfortunate if it comes out that Smartmatic may not be smart after all.

The 13th Place

Posted in Politics and Politicians with tags , , , , , on May 15, 2010 by Ruffy Biazon

With the senatorial count winding up, people I meet ask me this question, “Can the Comelec proclaim 13 senators instead of 12, owing to the vacancy that Sen. Aquino will leave behind as he assumes the Presidency?”. It is a valid question, one that I myself asked in the middle of the campaign as I was writing an analysis of a post election scenario (Noynoy Aquino Could be a Hostaged President, March 18, 2010).

I am not a lawyer, but in my 9 years as a congressman and previous 8 years as a senior legislative officer in the Senate, I have already learned how to research on laws and come up with my own opinions on some legal matters. So when that question came to my mind months back, I did some readings and study on previous cases of the same circumstance.

First of all, what does the law say?

Of course, the basic law of the land prescribes what we should do. Article VI, Sec. 9 of the Philippine Constitution says, “In case of vacancy in the Senate or in the House of Representatives, a special election may be called to fill such vacancy in the manner prescribed by law, but the Senator or Member of the House of Representatives thus elected shall serve only for the unexpired term.”

This means that the position that Sen. Noynoy Aquino will leave behind when he assumes the Presidency on June 30, 2010 may only be filled by complying with laws which prescribe how to elect a senator to fill the vacancy. To meet this requirement of the Constitution, the 8th Congress passed Republic Act No. 6645 which prescribes “The Manner of Filling a Vacancy in the Congress of the Philippines”.

RA 6645 provides that in case of a vacancy in either the House of Representatives or the Senate, the Comelec shall hold a special election to fill the vacancy “upon receipt of a resolution of the Senate or the House of Representatives, as the case may be, certifying to the existence of such vacancy and calling for a special election”.

The Senate of the 14th Congress could not have passed a resolution to declare a vacancy and call for an election to fill the same because the vacancy will only occur on June 30, 2010 when Sen. Aquino will assume the presidency or 51 days after the elections. The call for a special election to fill a vacancy should be done before the elections. And of course, the Senate has to certify to the existence of an actual vacancy.

For the May 10, 2010 Elections, the Comelec cannot simply proclaim the 13th placer as a winner because there is no call for a special election to fill the vacancy to be left by Sen. Aquino. In fact, it is quite clear that the election for senators is only for the regular elections to fill vacancies arising from the constitutionally scheduled end of terms of 12 incumbent senators. The ballot itself is proof this, since in the space provided for the names of the candidates for senators, it is written “Vote for not more than 12”.

RA 6645 requires that the Comelec announce the special election to fill a vacancy and properly inform the public about such a special election. Congress even further refined the law with the passage of Republic Act No. 7166.

RA 7166, amending RA 6645, says, “In case a permanent vacancy shall occur in the Senate or House of Representatives at least one (1) year before the expiration of the term, the Commission shall call and hold a special election to fill the vacancy not earlier than sixty (60) days nor longer than ninety (90) days after the occurrence of the vacancy. However, in case of such vacancy in the Senate, the special election shall be held simultaneously with the succeeding regular election.”

This means that for the vacancy created by Sen. Aquino’s assumption of the presidency, it will be filled through a special election to be held simultaneously with the elections in 2013. The Comelec cannot fill the vacancy using the results of the May 10, 2010 elections because the requirements are impossible to meet:

1. The Senate has to certify to the vacancy and call for a special election to fill the vacancy. But the Senate could not certify to a vacancy and call for a special election on May 10, 2010 because there was no vacancy. It will only occur on June 30, 2010.
2. The Comelec could not call for a special election because there was no resolution from the Senate. It has no mandate to proclaim the 13th placer as a winner.
3. The law provides that a special election to fill the vacancy shall only be held simultaneously with the next regular election which is in 2013.

It is therefore quite clear that the vacancy to be left behind by soon-to-be President Benigno Aquino III may only be filled in the 2013 elections, provided that all the requirements are met.

I have no problem if my fellow SLAMAT LORRRD candidate Risa Hontiveros lands in the 13th spot and is proclaimed as the 13th winning senator, if there is no legal impediment. I would be happy for her. But even if it was I in 13th place under the same circumstances, I would still acknowledge that the law will prevent me from assuming office.

So right now, it would be best to remind the Senate of the 15th Congress to pass the resolution certifying to a vacancy and calling for the Comelec to set a special election to fill the same simultaneous with the May 2013 senatorial elections.

By then, the battlecry will be “13 sa 2013!”

****CORRECTION*****

I inadvertently forgot that there will be barangay elections in October 2010, unless the Congress decides to set it on another date. The provision of RA 7166 which provides “in case of such vacancy in the Senate, the special election shall be held simultaneously with the succeeding regular election” makes it possible to have a special election for to fill Sen. Aquino’s vacancy. But the law still requires that the Senate certify such vacancy and call for a special election to complete the 24-seat chamber.

I Am Fine

Posted in Family Life, Politics and Politicians with tags , , on May 13, 2010 by Ruffy Biazon

It’s a unique situation I’m in now—not really a winner, but not necessarily a loser. I’m tempted to concede, but with five million votes still to be counted in the parallerl count and the official canvassing just starting, it’s also difficult to hang up the gloves now. I guess it won’t be taken as un-statesman for me to just ride out the storm. Besides, I had already made up my mind long ago that whatever the outcome is, it is the Will of God which will prevail. I have faith in Him in that the Bible says, “his plans are to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Win or lose, God has something good for me.

I consider myself blessed that during this time, aside from my wife and immediate family, there are those who show their concern for me and make me feel that I am not alone to face this challenge. Their encouraging and comforting words soothe my soul, and provide the cushion to dull the blow of an unsuccessful venture. Their mere company is enough to drive the spirits of sadness and depression away, and replace them with hope and cheerfulness.

I can feel the concern and sympathy of those around me. I know that relatives who immediately make their presence felt for me, even without them saying so, are there to offer a crying shoulder (literally and figuratively). Indeed, it is really during times like this that one understands the value of family. As I have said before, we should give priority for our families because when we are in dire straights or on our last breath, it will always be our family who will be there beside us.

It is also during these times that sincere and reliable friends come to the rescue. I am heartened by the numerous text messages, emails, Facebook comments and Inbox messages that I receive from friends encouraging me about the count and expressing their confidence in me. The simple “How are you?” does wonders to lift my spirits. Their comforting words and rousing exhortations fuel my desire to stand up and face this challenge instead of slink into a corner and wallow in self-pity.

But I have always been one to look at the brighter side of things. I have managed to downplay the final outcome of this contest and focus on the new things that I have learned, the experiences I underwent, and the friendships that I have established in the course of this journey to the august halls of the Senate.

Whether I do get to enter the Upper Chamber as a member or remain in the sidelines and watch the few who are given the privilege to be part of the Senate perform (or not perform) their duties, I will forever treasure the experience of being a Senatorial candidate trying to earn the trust of the nation.

In the months that we went around the country, I met thousands of our countrymen who received us with such generosity and warmth, reaffirming my belief that Filipinos are a good-natured people. I marveled at the beautiful countryside and each place I visited beckoned me to stay longer, even convincing me to say, “I could live here!”.

But I also saw the poverty in the countryside, the devastation of natural resources and the abuse of those who were given the trust to lead but eventually failed their own people. The more I witnessed, the more determined I became to pitch in and do my part to help achieve change.

The grueling campaign, which was a drain not only on the financial resources but also in physical strength as well as the emotions, would have driven the faint at heart to quit. But for me, the saving grace and the pillar of strength came from the staff and support group who endured with the candidates the emotional strain and the physical fatigue. A candidate is only as good as his staff and support are, and without them the battle can easily be lost.

With the indulgence and understanding of others, I am proud to say that my staff is the best. What they lack in numbers, they make up for in performance. Their dedication is matched by their abilities and I am happy and honored to have worked with them all these years and hopefully, in the many years to come.

But it would be unfair and self-serving of me to only give credit to my staff. The SLAMAT LORRRD team of Sen. Kiko Pangilinan, the group of young men and women who were given the designation as sherpas to the senatorial candidates, were a crucial and vital component of the whole campaign. Without them, it would have meant the collapse and failure of the Liberal Party’s senatorial campaign.

These sprightly, dependable, patient and hard working sherpas ensured that our movements during sorties were on time and in the right direction; they cued us when to get on stage and how long we could speak; they handed bottles of water to us to quench our thirst and avoid dehydration; they arranged media interviews and room reservations. In short, they made life easier.

In previous senatorial campaigns the candidate guides were called shepherds. I think the term sherpas used this election fits the functions they performed for us. They did not merely show the way, they sometimes carried the load for the candidates.

I will always look back to the 2010 campaign with fondness as an experience that enriched my life and increased my friendships. I find comfort in the fact that I gained the trust of millions of my countrymen and somehow touched the lives of some and moved them to take action.

The gratitude I have for those who spent their money and gave their time to campaign for me, without asking for anything in return, is one that I will forever hold. The people who covered me with prayer, crying to the heavens for my protection and provision, they have a spot in my special people list. All of them are my heroes, my lifeline, my safety net.

But above everyone else, this campaign has proven that I am blessed with a wife who performs the roles of my staff, the sherpas, the supporters and the prayer shields. She is all of those rolled into one, a precious blessing from Heaven. The best thing about it is that she isn’t there for me just during the elections. She is there for me for the rest of my life.

My children are gifts from God. One glance at them and the concerns of this campaign are set aside. They’re my sanctuaries, the embrace of their small arms are like walls of protection for me against the cruelty of this world. I take comfort and inspiration from my eldest son Carlo, who displayed composure, grace and steadfastness in facing disappointment when he experienced his own electoral defeat years back.

So as this campaign winds up, and the count places me in a precarious standing, all I need to do is remind myself of the good things I have and I gained and the anxiety of the outcome fades away. And with a smile on my face, I can truly say, “I am fine.”

Ruffy Biazon Thanks Iglesia ni Cristo

Posted in Politics and Politicians with tags , , , , on May 5, 2010 by Ruffy Biazon

It is with humility and honor that I thank the Iglesia ni Cristo for including me in their list of endorsed candidates for the 2010 National and Local Elections. The endorsement, which I view as a gesture of trust and confidence by the INC, will surely help boost my candidacy and bring electoral victory closer to reality.

While an endorsement by the INC is usually seen as a valuable means to gain more support from the electorate, it is actually a vestment of a responsibility to serve this country in the highest moral, ethical and professional standards. It is not a mere tool to get more votes, but it is a challenge to perform one’s duty as a public official not only with efficiency but also with compassion especially to the less privileged.

Because of this endorsement by the INC, I have a sense of obligation to do my duty not only to those who endorsed me, but to all the Filipino people if I am elected into office. The Oath of Office I will take will be a commitment to my countrymen and God, especially because the mandate from the People is a mandate from God.