May 1, 2007
President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo
Malacañang Palace, Manila
Election Day, May 14, 2007, is less than two weeks from today. On behalf of the Trustees and Officers of Kilosbayan and Bantay Katarungan, we are humbly and respectfully sending this Open Letter to you in the hope it will serve all Filipinos for the common good.
Our Trustees are non-partisan and independent. Almost all are senior citizens. Some were in the Government years ago, but while they have retired from serving the Government, they have not retired from serving our people. All of us receive no compensation or allowance – we serve gratis et amore.
We believe we cannot keep quiet in the midst of the many problems that confront our people, as a result of massive poverty, endemic corruption, and worsening violence and criminality. The coming elections should be an occasion for national renewal, as in other democratic countries, but in our view, the way the May 14 elections are actually being conducted could make our problems worse than ever and lead to undesirable consequences.
The Administration has repeatedly assured our people that the coming elections will be honest, orderly, peaceful, and credible. Since majority of our people believe otherwise, immediate steps should now be taken by your Administration to regain the people's trust and confidence at this crucial hour. These steps include the following:
1. The Commission on Elections is supposed to be an independent, impartial, and competent Commission, worthy of the people's trust. But the Chairman of the COMELEC and at least two of his fellow Commissioners are seriously tainted because of their track record and their palpable bias in your favor. In fairness to others, Commissioners Romeo A. Brawner and Rene V. Sarmiento have earned public trust due to their meritorious performance. Commissioner Nicodemo T. Ferrer's trust rating is still undertain.
Madam President: You have the rare opportunity to do something positive by appointing a person of moral integrity, competence, and impartiality to the 7th and only vacancy in the COMELEC. But you have not done so. We respectfully and humbly urge you to do so even at this late hour, since it is certain many problems will confront the COMELEC immediately before, during, and long after the May 14, 2007 elections.
2. Many of our people, including the Trustees and Officers of Kilosbayan and Bantay Katarungan, cannot see any merit in deploying the military in the poor areas of Metro Manila up to and after the elections. Peace and order is the main responsibility of the National Police. The role of the military is to protect and defend our people in case of foreign invasion. But why the lack of regard for this basic distinction, unless – as keen observers believe – your Administration has a wrong, horrible agenda in mind?
3. We bear no personal grudge against Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon, who has been linked with the dishonest elections in Southern Mindanao. Whether correct or not, the poll surveys show that he has the lowest trust rating among your distrusted allies and subordinates. We recall a similar figure during the last days of Marcos before EDSA I – Chief of Staff General Fabian Ver. As Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, there is a lot you can do to avert a similar social upheaval. We respectfully urge you to do so as soon as possible.
4. The broadcast and print media have just reported that you have asked the AFP and PNP to stop the election-related violence, which has already claimed 31 lives and many serious injuries of an undetermined number. The banner headline today is that the military, in line with your order, is setting up "more checkpoints nationwide." We recall that this was what Marcos also ordered in the 1969 elections, described by Newsweek and Time (November 24, 1969 and February 16, 1970) as the "dirtiest, most violent" and "most corrupt" in modern Filipino history. But even more violent and more corrupt was the February 7, 1986 election which culminated in the EDSA I People Power Revolution. We hope this kind of an election – violent and fraudulent – does not happen again, for your sake and for the sake of our suffering people.
JOVITO R. SALONGA
I hope gma listens...
but looking at her actions in the past 6 years....
well, well, well!
gma has turned to be more brutal than dictator marcos himself.
She has earned the distrust of Pinoys here and abroad by her actions
and pretentious stand on anything legal.
Stong Republic, she says....
I say Strong Military!
VOTE WISELY, will ya?