Monday, February 5, 2007

Boycott the Elections? Don't Be Silly, Randy

WHY NOT A BOYCOTT? UP Professor and PDI Columnist RANDY DAVID asks in his Sunday essay this week. The suggestion is not only silly, it's the exact same thing the Left did in 1986 when they called for a boycott of the snap elections Marcos unexpectedly called because of Ted Koppel's needling on Nightline. So when the Filipino people kicked Marcos out and put Cory Aquino in, they got left out in the Cold and got to stay in the Cold War. They are still stuck in that nether region, with moist eyes for the rising superpowerdom of China, while ignoring the fact that the homeland of their old Maoism has already taken the capitalist road. Democracy in one form or another cannot be far behind, even in China, as the true-believing Communists are getting to be mostly doddering nonagenarians, and not even the "Emperor's Secret" -- injection of human placenta material, reportedly popular among the Central Committee's highest ranking members and available to foreigners at $1000 a pop -- can possibly save them from personal, political and ideological extinction. It's only here, in places like the Philippines that we're still producing young communists, mainly through the pubic schools and universities, like the school Randy David teaches in somewhere in Diliman. But democratic elections are precisely what totalitarian dictatorships seek to eliminate. One-party, one-man dictatorships cannot abide one-man one-vote exercises precisely because this is where totalitarian states and democracies differ. Randy's slip is merely showing through the veneer of his reluctant participation in the system. How can we ever establish democracy and mature it, if we refuse to recognize that regular democratic elections are the only acceptable way to bringing about change and reform in the long run? Randy asks a series of rhetorical questions that reveal the true nature of his leftist philosphy as being quintessentially undemocratic as he demands not freedom and opportunity, but a guarantee of results --
What makes us pin our hopes then on the 2007 elections? Has the Abalos-led Comelec suddenly become a reformed institution? Are there new and credible faces in the agency at the provincial and municipal levels that would warrant our renewed confidence in the integrity of the electoral system? Are there new fraud-proof technologies in place that might neutralize any attempt to doctor the results? Are the opposition candidates so popular they can override any attempt at wholesale cheating? Do we sense a surge of public vigilance of the kind the nation saw in the 1986 snap election? Are we hoping that the Arroyo government, having survived the crisis, might be gripped by conscience and be more predisposed this time around to ensure a credible vote?
Not to mix too many metaphors, but Randy David essentially suggests we throw the baby out with the bath water even as we insist that we cannot accept any chaff with our wheat. Manuel L. Quezon III doesn't agree with him either, because he thinks it's "needless complication" -- finding an elegant way of saying he doesn't think it can possibly work because few people will support the idea. "Boycott" is just a code word for another people power attempt. But even if it were the right tactic for removing GMA, I would not endorse such an election boycott on basic principle.

Besides it would only makes Utrecht and Malacanang Palace both happy, since neither wants a real election. I say the people have to surprise them all!




Ellen's blog is totally empty at 22h52 my time.

I suspect her blog's been hacked.

Hope she's alright.

Rizalist said...

I doubt she's been hacked. Looks like her admin is trying to change the template or redo her database (again!). She really should move to the New Blogger! Am sure they'll be back up soon. Not to worry. Hope your blogging about Dolorino...

mlq3 said...


actually, the left is pining for china to become communist again: a recent statement from utrecht said,

"China has the appearance of prosperity, which is real for less than 10% of its people, but which has relegated more than 90% of its people to suffer exploitation even more rapacious than, and oppression similar to pre-1949 conditions. Sweatshops, migrant workers, vagabonds and beggars abound. Workers frequently undertake protest actions against reduced real incomes and mass layoffs. Thousands of peasant uprisings have been launched against the arbitrary grabbing of land by bureaucrats and capitalist enterprises. A revolutionary communist party inspired by Maoism can take advantage of the fertile conditions for revolution. The phoney communists in power so far still succeed in destroying even the good name of real communists."

Rizalist said...

Yeah, well, I miss the 20th Century too...but even the Chinese communists will probably leave them behind Manolo. Too materialistic is that culture, and too gregarious the Chinese people, to become another Cuba. Prosperity, my hoped for glue of the world.

floyd said...

I sent a txt message to my friends and told them that im not going to vote.
because of the following reasons:

1. The people who are going to supervise it are the same people who orchestrated GMA's way to presidency last 2004.

2. The elections are going to be held under the GMA government.

For one I refuse to recognize this government, other than that I honestly think that nothing good will come out of the current Comelec as it is today. So why bother voting when the next thing you know your ballots are going to be used to count the asshole of a candidate you sincerely detest?

The reply to my message was devastating, the people I thought to be intellectuals and thinkers insisted that people who don't vote like me are anarchist and that they support the will of the people to hold a "democratic" election.

I doubt they never heard about passive resistance as it was done in India at the time of Gandhi or better yet they might have known about it yet decided to place their faith upon an illegitimate government as well as a corruptible Comelec.

For this It was also timely for me that I am reading about Ninoy Aquino. How he was able to win in an election held under the most auspicious eyes of that scumbag Marcos.

I understand that he won second in his senatorial run against his formidable opponents. I must admit I don't know if at that time Comelec was as crooked as it is today or filipinos could be bought as they are today.

I also don't know if their epiphany for Ninoy was because of his incorrigible faith in the filipinos good will. I read that even in his final moments he still valiantly believe that the filipinos are worth dying for. Either way I still think that he was legitimately voted into office but majority of the senators who won (actually he was the only one who won from the opposition) were for Marcos.

So why do you think Ninoy won? I think he was made to win by Marcos because it was the only way to satiate the desire for debate in the halls of the senate or else the venue would be nothing more than an echoing YES hall.

I am not saying that he was never popular as he was then, I believe that his victory was also because of his effective information campaign, nonetheless he was the only one who won from the opposition, doesn't that ring a bell?

Assuming that indeed the people experienced the massive cheating in the elections and THEY DID vote for the right leaders, what was it that they did after? Was it worse than the "Hello Garci" scandal?

It is here that we will find credence as to my actions and my decision not to vote. Ninoy stood alone in the senate a lone sheep amongst wolves. He talks and delivers speeches vehemently against Marcos and people loved him because he stood as somebody who passionately believes in the power of the filipinos to think for themselves, but forward it to thirty years or more and you find filipinos trying to stomach another subtle dictatorship such as GMA's.

The truth is people change and their ways for struggle does too. If we can't even vouch for a fair and honest election, then why the hell vote?!! If we can't fight against the illegitimate government and a Comelec that houses Garci and Abalos then why the hell vote and hope that these people will give you your due?

I never lost faith in my countrymen and just like Ninoy I firmly believe that there will be a better future for our country. BUT I WILL NEVER TOLERATE THAT MY COUNTRYMEN BE TRICKED INTO PARTICIPATING IN FRAUD RIDDLED ELECTIONS!

A professor of mine told me that the reason bad leaders get voted into office is because of the lack of good people voting. And he bluntly told me that I was one of them, he followed it by saying that this country would be no better off with people like me and he'd rather migrate to another country because of my beliefs.


Perhaps it is true that if I never vote then the wrong kind of leaders will be voted into office, but that is only because people like my professor never does anything to go against the corrupt officials in Comelec and the regime.

It was also from him that I first heard of that adage where he says that "The people gets the government they deserve". If what he says is true then HE deserves this kind of government and NOT ME!

Ergo I choose not to vote. I choose not to be used by the government. And if they believe that by forfeiting my right to vote I would also forfeit my right to complain from the government then so be it. If they brand me as an anarchist then I brand the government as a manipulative asshole who tries to stage a democratic front not even worthy of a second rate television drama.

Other than that if you still firmly believe that we're still a democratic country then maybe its time that you read about Ninoy and learn the lessons of our history from his eyes. Or else be one of those tricked into believing that just because we were able to exercise democracy, we are definitely free.

Rizalist said...

Thanks for your thoughtful comments Floyd. I guess the impt point is something you already touched on, that all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.

Then there is this thought: all the surveys point to the Opposition taking over the Senate and ushering in a "Hanging Senate" where there will be at least 16 members ready to convict the President at impeachment. It's much harder to cheat the Senate vote, and even harder because of what happened in 2004.

But the point of this post is that it is unprincipled to boycott an election just because we don't think we will like the result.

Democracy is about freedom and opportunity, not a guarantee of results.

floyd said...

Thank you very much Dean for the comment ^_^ anyway heres my rebuttal if you may.

*all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing - Now by saying this your argument became very tricky. Do you mean that by participating in a "fraud" election we become the good people doing something for evil not to triumph? Or do you mean that even before a "fraud election" becomes manifest we will be able to clean it up and make it more credible, thus making us good people? To expound further doesn't it merit that calling the Comelec a "Commission riddled with fraud" as exampled in the last elections make my arguments valid? Perhaps the difference lies in your approach as to how you define evil. Perhaps voting and practicing the right to vote is not evil per se but the process of how our votes are counted and made accountable is what becomes evil in the end. Other than that do you mean that by doing nothing--which is boycotting the elections, we would help this illegitimate government make an election under its regime legitimate?

*Then there is this thought: all the surveys point to the Opposition taking over the Senate and ushering in a "Hanging Senate" where there will be at least 16 members ready to convict the President at impeachment. It's much harder to cheat the Senate vote, and even harder because of what happened in 2004. - I have yet to understand a survey in the Philippines that presents the desired results as produced by the study. Lest we forget in the 2004 elections it was FPJ who was leading the surveys and yet GMA was the one who won it. Surveys as in the case of the Philippines are either used to complement a candidate or show the truth in society. But surveys can never read ballots and award a candidate its seat in government, especially when the ones counting it are the ones who counted GMA's in congress.

*But the point of this post is that it is unprincipled to boycott an election just because we don't think we will like the result - Let me ask a question why do you think we ever vote? Isn't it because we believe that our votes will be counted? That our names registered in Comelec will be found in the right precincts and ballots? That the candidate we choose will win an election? When does it become unprincipled to choose to go against a system that doesn't safeguard these rights? When does it become unprincipled to believe and think that before we ever get to vote we must clean our Comelec and put to justice our president?

*Democracy is about freedom and opportunity, not a guarantee of results - Now there was a saying that behind every right there exists a duty. In a democracy indeed we have a right to our freedom and free opportunities yet we should protect it so we will find the results it guarantees. I don't know what you mean by saying that Democracy being not a guarantee of results. Are you saying that just because we are able to practice our freedom to vote and our opportunity to choose our leaders we are to be equally happy even if we know for a fact that the ones handling our democracy (which is our government and Comelec) are those who manipulates them for their own ends?

I hope that this would shed light further to what I am trying to touch upon.

Mabuhay ka!

Rizalist said...

Again thanks for a well thought out comment and discussion. There is nothing tricky about the argument that when good people do nothing evil triumphs. It's just like when there is no good bacteria in your stomach, it will surely ache form the evil bacteria that is left.

I think the premise of a boycott is that we intend to replace the system anyway by getting rid of it. But I don't think getting rid of regular democratic elections is a real option for us unless we want to install another dictatorship, possibly with a philospher king or God himself as its head.

The other way of approaching it is to accept that human societies will always be imperfect, unequal, or even, unjust to some degree. But we have only the method of "successive approximations to the ideal" to rely upon.

To make this as clear as possible, look at the problem of ignorance that science faces: we shall never know everything there is to know about the universe, indeed the more we know, the more we know how much we do not know! But is this a reason to give up on scientific exploration and discovery? Of course not. It is the same with societies and politics.

Democracy's greatest virtue is the humility to admit that it is imperfect and flawed. But its greatest strength is corrigibility, the potential to improve and correct itself itself, step by step, without forcing the people against their will, to adopt things, even if it is "good" in some metaphysical sense. This it does by regular democratic elections. It is the only mechanism we have to replace leaders and conditions without overthrowing the system everytime we don't like the results produced.

To me Gloria's greatest crime is not "being illegitimate" or even "cheating the elections" but her violation of national security laws in wiretapping herself and Garcillano and prostituting the Philippine Military intelligence services to partisan political purposes.

But because so many Filipinos don't care about national security for some reason, and don't value our soldiers and military as the foundation of our freedom and democracy, we have not approached the removal of the President for those crimes. I think she is guilty of violating the anti wire tapping law! For that alone she should be impeached and convicted.

That is the only way I am willing to get rid of her before 2010. To do that we HAVE to elect enough senators and congressmen to accomplish it. We must try against all odds to succeed. Defeatism and assuming the elections will again be cheated is not an option.

We have to make the proper impeachment and conviction of a sitting President work, so that the Future can avoid having to do it again.

Regarding "guarantee of results", remember the slogan, "all men are created equal"? Yet, why ARE there rich and poor in democracies, even the oldest ones? It is because liberty is also a condition that breeds inequality, since some people are smarter, harder working, wiser, or just plain luckier than others. Thus "equality" is only with regards to "opportunity" and not the actual results. This is what is meant by democracy not being a guarantee of results. Democracy is no guarantee that we shall all be equally happy, or rich or powerful.

We must make our own fortunes, even in a democracy. It is totalitarianism that makes the false promise that all will be equal in the results because the results are decreed by fiat. It is of course a proven fiction that any society can do that.

The solution to a fraudulent election is still the Rule of Law. As citizens we must punish the wicked and reward the good by upholding the Rule of Law, not chucking it out the window or saying it is hopeless and therefore we should not even try.

The difference between free men and slaves is in never giving up until the Right has triumphed, but not through evil. Here is my favorite quotation of all time, from the great American abolitionist, Frederick Douglass:

"Your forefathers were men of peace; but they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage. They were quiet men but they did not shrink from agitating against oppression. They showed forebearance but they knew its limits. They believed in order but not the order of tyranny. With them nothing was "settled" that was not right. With them, justice, liberty and humanity were "final" -- but not slavery and oppression. You may well cherish the memory of such men, for they seized upon eternal principles, and set a glorious example in their defense. Mark them." It is my credo.

floyd said...

"Higher forms of democracy must be constantly fought for so that mankind may achieve the new freedom which a higher stage of development makes possible. Democracy therefore, is by its very nature subversive of the status quo. Change is its lifeblood & dissent the inevitable precursor of every change. Dissent is thus coterminous with democratic life. The right to dissent is implicit in the democratic ideal of freedom of expression & of action. When that right is abridged, circumscribed, or denied, democracy becomes an idle word, a farcical form disguising an authoritarian content."
-Renato Constantino-

I could remember the first time the "Hello Garci" tapes were
exposed again I talked with my old professor and he told me to
let congress do its job because we are in a democracy. To let
"The rule of law" have its way, to give democracy a chance and
have our constitution work for us.

After the call for investigation was voted out by the majority
in congress, as well as the two impeachment complaint my
professor told me to wait and have us vote for incorruptible
congressmen and let the people decide for the next congressman
who would vote against GMA and for the full investigation of the
"Hello Garci Tapes".

When the majority in congress voted for charter-change I dont
know what my professor still thinks if he wants to still keep
them in office and wait until the next election. Arguably this
is what it means to be in a democracy, perhaps some have it good
and some have it bad. Perhaps indeed this is what keeps America
in the brink of impeaching Bush but that is understandably
giving the benefit of the doubt to the credibility of elections
in the U.S.

*"Democracy's greatest virtue is the humility to admit that it is
imperfect and flawed. But its greatest strength is
corrigibility, the potential to improve and correct itself
itself, step by step, without forcing the people against their
will, to adopt things, even if it is "good" in some metaphysical
sense. This it does by regular democratic elections. It is the
only mechanism we have to replace leaders and conditions without
overthrowing the system everytime we don't like the results
produced." - Now this is where I think the contention lies, what
I am actually against is the kind of election we have in our
country. Where democracy only works for those who could afford
it and there can never be equal opportunities for candidates who
are poor. I have no qualms whatsoever in a democracy being a
tool in changing the government "peacefully" but putting into
context the political spectrum our country is in, where voting
is a privilege and even sometimes only practiced at the end of a
barrel of a gun.

Time and again we have experienced massive
cheating, electioneering and even murder at that and we brush it
aside stating that it is because we live in a democracy that's
why. Some people win some and some people loose some thats how
its works, is that it? Furthermore who says we should never
overthrow this system? Who ever believes that by giving GMA a
"credible" election she deserves the graceful exit by being
impeached? And in the most extreme point of view do you think
she would ever allow that?

*"I think the premise of a boycott is that we intend to replace
the system anyway by getting rid of it. But I don't think
getting rid of regular democratic elections is a real option for
us unless we want to install another dictatorship, possibly with
a philosopher king or God himself as its head." - Perhaps the
absence of a credible leader speaks of the need to vouch for a
"peaceful" election because we cannot overthrow the government
without having somebody to replace it. Other than that i think
that the filipino's love for entertainment further sterngthens
the need for an election. A conversation with a colleague
yesterday stated that even with a credible election there will
still be massive vote buying and cheating involved. I equally
agreed with him that the problem doesnt just lie in whose
handling the elections rather the behavior of the voters
involved in the election (poverty, ignorance, iliteracy) having
the behavior of the candidates being entertainers as a given
(but thats giving them much credit) as secondary.

Therefore in the final analysis permit me to state the rationale
behind "constructive boycotting". These are the given:

1. We can never oust or impeach GMA without the support of the
masses, also because majority in congress supports her.

2. We can never oust or impeach the members of comelec without
the support of the masses, also because the government won't
allow it or even have them placed under investigation.

3. We can never oust or impeach members of congress without the
support of the masses, also because a number of people believe
that the only way to change them is either through a
"democratic" election.

4. The candidates running for election as well as the election
per se is won by face value rather than credible political

5. The masses are either poverty stricken or else associating
the rise of the peso to the government of GMA.

6. The middle class are either too busy or going out of the
country and live their own lives because there are more masses
that could be tricked into voting anyway than them.

7. The elite would rather keep the status quo for this is what
have always worked for them, supporting candidates for their own
ends, though a handful might help the good candidates still they
would never go against the government.

8. The broad left either has none or little of "winnable"

9. The broad left being composed of the armed and the legal
struggles is still licking up its wounds from its past mistakes
aside from being literally murdered indiscriminately by either
the government or by themselves.

10. It should never be contested that the camp of Erap is
consistently rising and is becoming a formidable opponent of the
administration but raking up divisiveness especially from the
middle class and the elite.

Therefore having stated the above statements what does that
leave us? Are we to work and help "The Government" reach its
end by having us participate in "The Governments' election"?
Is boycotting an election, become a transgression worthy of the
term defeatism?

The problem here is in the numbers, of how many are going to win
or will be able to win in an election under GMA's regime. It
has been proven before that under her supervision even the most
formidable force under the banner of FPJ can never assume
leadership. That even in the halls of congress we can never
demand to open election returns. That with the boldness of cold
blodded murderers from the government they would never permit
such to even come into mind.

"Constructive boycotting" doesn't mean that one becomes
apathetic, it is one becoming able to voice out the wrongs of
the current regime and not having to be used as a tool for
further misgivings.

"Constructive boycotting" while being conscious of the status
quo aims to change it by being able to point out the
corruptibility of institutions such as comelec and becoming a
watchdog while not being tied to the governments leash.
"Constructive Boycotting" is a process in a democracy that
understands and utilizes the sphere of dissent to eventually
change the strata of our voting population.

It is when we understand that their law doesn't work for us
anymore. That an election doesn't work for us and their model
of democracy has failed us time and again. It is that the real
rule of law could only be applied if we rise up and go against a
system that fosters such. That we have the courage to say no
because the ballot boxes to be used are still the ones used for
cheating. That we have the courage to say no because the ones
overseeing the elctions are the ones who cheated us of our
"democratically voted" leaders. That we have the courage to say
no because the regime we are under is still the one curtailing
our democracy.

Ergo the solution to a fraudulent election is to never partake
of such. To eventually show the people that the ones' voted
into office are the ones voted by the Government. To show that
the people who are to be bought and tricked into partaking of
such elections deserve the leaders they have. That is when the
good people are really doing something, chiding them of their
mistakes and counseling them in the end.

It is never tolerating another's mistake just so the other would
continue to live their lives. Perhaps this is what Rizal really
meant when he didn't blew up the house in El Fili. Perhaps from
this we will be able to chaff out the wheat from the grain.

For "constructive boycotting" never meant leaving another for
naught, it is showing them what is ought and giving them the
choice of action.

thanks for enlightening me more
Mabuhay ka!