Chuckle and Weep

by Juan L. Mercado

(“Here are ‘grammar booboos’ that Pinoys commit,” a UP professor-friend emailed.  “I wove in an election context – and laughed. Then, I factored in the crooks – and cried .” Here’s his letter. Chuckle and weep — JLM)

“The sky’s the langit,” gushed the rally emcee. “Well, well, well. Look do we have here!”  As candidates clambered on stage, he added:  “Let’s give them a big hand of applause.”

Including the crooks? “Are you joking my leg?”, he replied. Even Joseph  Estrada’s plunder conviction was “anulled and void”.  It’s now: “mute and academic.” 

Does Erap scoff at corruption in rallies?  “Been there, been that..I’m only human nature. This election is “ a no-win-win   situation. So, just burn the bridge when we get there.” O.K?

O.K. grunt 68 Ampatuans.  They’re among 879 candidates in — where else? In  Maguindanao,  374 posts are up for grabs. Mindanews Carolyn O. Arguillas reports. These include one governor, 36 mayors to 288 town councilors.

”Has worse comes to shove” for Datu Andal Ampatuan?  The Datu Unsay town mayor is in an NBI clink, following the massacre of 57 persons (including 32 journalists).  “They’re barking at the wrong dog,”  supporters insist.  The  datu is “very iterated!!!    (Transalation: galit siya!)  “The feeling is actual,  first and for all.” 

“For all intense and purposes,” the regime dumped them. Malacanang wants to “have their cake and bake it too”, the datu’s   backers grouse. “Why  “can’t they just cut us some slacks?” “

Along with 196 others, Andal Sr. was charged with multiple murder. Belatedly, the ruling Lakas-Kampi party cashiered the Ampatuans – after  benefiting, over the years, from their ballot ATMs.

‘This is beneath the belt, “ Ampatuan partisans fume. We ‘couldn’t care a damn”.  We “can’t take it anymore of this!”

Neither can the Ampatuans.  This time around, they take no chances.  From intertwined family branches, they’re fielding two candidates, for every post.

Look at the Ampatuan heartland:  Mamasapano. There, the Ampatuan-Uy branch deployed candidates against those from the   Ampatuan-Abutazil stem. In Rajah Buayan town, to take one example, Yacob “Datu Jack” Lumenda Ampatuan campaigns against his brother: Kuzabari.

“The uncertainty pervading during their meeting, before the deadline for filing for candidacy, prompted us to field two candidates, just in case’, explained Datu “Jack”.

Demographers, attending last week’s Philippine Population Association meeting, popped a key question. How did Manguindanao’s  population  grow by 5.4 percent, as the seven-year late census claims? 

This doubles the national growth rate of 2.04 percent. Maguindanao also outstripped 79 other provinces (Exclude. Dinagat. The  Supreme Court just struck this islet from the rolls.)  Manguindanao even outpaced Metro Cebu, and Metro Manila where  in-migration shoves growth up.

See the international context, too. Manguidanao’s surge outpaced all 19 Asian countries. The fastest growing is Laos which  clocked 2.4 percent.  None of the 177 countries, tracked  by UN Development Report 2009,  had populations “implode” on  Maguindanao’s scale.

Are you sure ka na ba?”, the dazed observer is apt to ask.  “What is the next that is?”

There are more 18-year olds in Maguindanao than any other age group,” notes Joel Landingin of Philippine Center for Investigative  Journalism.  On turning 18, one is qualified to vote.  Except for those aged 10, the largest age group in  Maguindanao is 18.

Or look at the “youth surge”chart. This has been painstakingly crafted by demographers from UP, Xavier to, San Carlos.

Those between 0-14 years of age form the largest cluster here.  Next comes those aged 30 to 59. The 15-29 cluster is third. Manguindanao turned that demographic pattern on it’s head — with a  huge glob of 18 year olds.

Our “answers have been prayered,” an Amptuan partisan explained. The May election could see  Maguindanao “as brand as new”.

Today, we have 10 ten presidential candidates.  Senators Benigno Aquino and Manuel Villar lead the pack, statistically tied at  37 to -35 percent.

Each was preferred by just over a-third of the total voters interviewed,  political scientist Jose V. Abueva notes.  As in the  1992, 1998, and 2004 elections, the next  President will sweep into Malacanang by a plurality of the votes, not a majority.

Who will win?

The one who adds to the actual votes he secured, plus those corralled from other losing candidates, Abueva believes.  Who between Aquino or Villar  “would benefit or lose from the 13  percent or so of Erap, if he doesn’t tuck tail?

In this setting, will 18-year old spook voters of Maguindanao, and other ARRM provinces, tip the scales? They could, if a flawed census  and  padded  registration lists are not  exorcised  before  May 10.

“Repeat that, for the second time around, once more from the top”, some flabbergasted voters ask.    

(Email: juanlmercado@gmail.comThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it )


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