In 1978, a catholic priest, Fr. Jorge M. Kintanar of Cebu, was among the candidates under Pusyon Bisaya that swept, 13-0, the regional (and block voting) elections for the Interim Batasang Pambansa assemblymen, representing Region VII (Cebu, Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor).
Together with the lone winner from Mindanao, Cagayan de Oro Assemblyman Reuben R. Canoy of the Mindanao Alliance, the Pusyon Bisaya became the opposition voice in the interim Batasang Pambansa from 1978-1984.
Among the 13 elected was Atty. (later Supreme Court Chief Justice) Hilario G. Davide, Jr., and among those defeated, running under Marcos’ KBL, were the Cebu dynasties of Osmena, Gullas and Cuenco.
I remember this first election held after martial law was declared in 1972 very well, Bong, since I was then serving my third 4-year term as councilor of Lapu-Lapu City (a member of the Liberal Party and, allow me to add, one of only 3 incumbent city councilors in all of Region VII during martial law who did not join the KBL). The Oponganons (Opon was the name of the former municipality) I headed--Ang Mga Kaliwat Ni Lapu-Lapu (The Heirs of Lapu-Lapu)--linked with Pusyon Bisaya. My area of responsibility during the 1978 election was Lapu-Lapu City, including the 4 other smaller islands that comprise it, particularly Olango where I was born and where my forebears (relatives of Lapu-Lapu?) came from. But very few now recall the massive protest (and this was at the height of martial law) Cebuanos held for several days at the Fuente Osmena circle all the way to the Cebu provincial capitol after COMELEC proclaimed the KBL candidates the winners. I was there.
Note that votes were canvassed by regions. Ballot boxes from Bohol and Siquijor were delivered to Cebu; but those from Negros Oriental, upon arriving at the wharf, were brought (the term then was “hijacked”) instead to the Durano enclave (another dynasty) in the north of Cebu. It was this hijacking of ballot boxes that infuriated the Cebuanos, since Pusyon Bisaya was already leading by a mile in the votes already tallied from Cebu, Bohol and Siquijor. In our city where I was in charge of listing the precinct results, if I remember right, it was 70-30 in Pusyon’s favor. I retired from politics after Marcos was ousted.
But, had Marcos not caved in and declared a 13-0 win for Pusyon Bisaya, the Cebuano protest would have escalated and turned into EDSA 8 years earlier (that was 1978). In fact, talk of seceding from imperial Manila was ripe then.
Bong, our Constitution and laws allow the “person having the highest number of votes” to be proclaimed elected. So, where is the majoritarian popular sovereignty rule there? Arroyo needed only 39%, Estrada 40%, Ramos 21% of votes cast to assume the office of President.
How can a mere plurality in these instances be regarded as the expression of the majority, of the “voice of the people”? In fact, for that matter, recent opinion polls (2007) showing that 60% want to kick Arroyo out is merely reiterating what the election results were in 2004--that 61% prefer other candidates instead and that only 39% are in favor of allowing Arroyo to stay 6 years more.
Similarly, since the 12 Senators are to be elected “at large by the qualified voters of the Philippines” with no provision specifying that each candidate should receive at least 50% of votes cast, how can Senators claim to represent the majority of the national constituency (or even regional constituency, if Senators are to be chosen by region)?
As regards Fr. Ed Panlillio, following is the obituary of Fr. Robert F. Drinan, SJ, the first priest elected as voting member of the U.S. Congress (Boston Globe, 28 Jan 2007): “In 1980, Pope John Paul II ordered Father Drinan either to forgo reelection or leave the priesthood. Father Drinan had relished holding office, but there was no doubt in his mind over what to do.
With "regret and pain," he announced he would not be running for reelection."’It is just unthinkable,’ he said of the idea of renouncing the priesthood to stay in office. ‘I am proud and honored to be a priest and a Jesuit. As a person of faith I must believe that there is work for me to do which somehow will be more important than the work I am required to leave.’"