Comelec DQ process arbitrary?

Arbitrary, capricious, whimsical.

This is a legal, pro forma, put down for a frivolous move or decision by adjudicating authority.

But can you blame one party which feels deprived of a fair day in court from a Constitutional agency with vast discretionary powers?

Discretion is, quite simply, the power to compromise. A brilliant, fiery, and dearly departed lady legislator went even as far as saying that “discretion is corruption”.

But a living, breathing lawmaker posts the same question: Did the poll body go overboard in terms of its constitutional mandate regarding cases of local electoral contests?

Has the Commission on Elections been whimsical in disqualifying candidates running for local and national posts in the 2019 elections?

This appears to be an emerging concern and was expounded on by senatorial candidate and erstwhile Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III in a recent radio interview.

Pimentel, who happens to be the national head of the PDP-Laban, shared the worry that certain Comelec officials may have been too fast in disqualifying some candidates and too slow with others. Pimentel particularly  noted the proliferation of apparent “nuisance candidates” - those who were fielded just to cause confusion and sow chaos.

These are usually candidates who have the same family name as another candidate. In many instances, they sport both the same first name and family name as the intended target of the nuisance candidacy.

He wondered why a good number of these candidates were not disqualified quickly enough and ended up being included in the ballot.

As a result, the confusion effect continues even after the nuisance candidate has been disqualified. This is because it is not clear where the votes for the nuisance candidate with the same name as a legitimate aspirant would go.

This seems to be the case in Zamboanga del Norte. It appears the political nemeses of incumbent Governor Roberto Uy succeeded in getting the local Comelec a namesake. The other Uy is also named “Roberto” and also sports the same nickname as the governor – “Berto”.

Many local observers wonder why it took some time before local Comelec officials realized that the only reason why the second “Roberto ‘Berto’ Uy” is running for office is to confuse voters and desecrate the ballot. The guy is practically a garbage scavenger. It is obvious his run for the gubernatorial post was being aided and funded by certain interests who are bent on derailing the governor’s reelection bid.

To be fair to the Comelec, the latter has finally declared the second Uy a “nuisance candidate”. It appears though that the governor’s political enemies are already capitalizing and aggravating the confusion despite the disqualification.

Because the nuisance candidate is still in the ballot and it has become too late to print fresh ones without his name, the governor’s nemeses have been putting posters all over the province with his picture beside the number in the ballot of the disqualified nuisance candidate.

It is clear as daylight that the perpetrators of the scheme are confusing and misleading voters. They are capitalizing on the belated action of the Comelec. They are banking on the assumption that the poll body would declare all votes for the nuisance candidate as void.

Pimentel – who was a victim of election fraud himself – believes that efforts to cause massive confusion in connection with election campaign activities should be considered acts of sabotage. The solon from Cagayan de Oro also feels that the rules on determining whether or not a candidate is a mere nuisance is still unclear. This must be the reason why the Comelec may be too slow in some instances and too quick on another.

Ped Xing seconds the good senator’s emotion.


Quit fast or die slow: Here’s how

We have again snagged a world record, but it is not something we can all be proud of.

In fact, it is a virtual “time-delay” death certificate.

There was a joke that went around some time ago about getting hit twice by smoking – first when a person gets hooked into the nasty, toxic, and costly habit; and, second when cancer, emphysema, and other related diseases set in.

Of course, eventually the smoker pays the ultimate price – a slow, agonizing, and terrible death.

But such prolonged agony and delayed death is no joking matter.

Take it from someone who lost loved ones to smoking-related diseases.

But if this doesn’t convince you, take heed from no less than the World Health Organization which is leading the global fight against smoking and its clear, present, and verifiable risks.

With over 16 million smokers, the Philippines has one of the highest rates of smoking in the region, and is one of the top 10 countries with the largest smoking population. The WHO reports that 10 Filipinos die every hour due to smoking-related diseases like lung cancer and heart disease, which account for 16% of all deaths in the country.

With the odds against tobacco smokers, the choice is clear:  quit smoking or die. According to the Global Adult Tobacco Survey, though about 80% said they planned to, or were thinking about quitting smoking, only less than 4% were able to successfully do so.

For many smokers, deciding to quit is just the start. The challenging part is trying to overcome the urge to light up. There are many ways to cessation, and smokers should be well-informed about their options. Here are a few approaches with varying degrees of success:

Cold turkey.  About 90% of people who try to quit smoking go “cold turkey” without outside support, medicine, or therapy.  Although most people try to quit this way, it has a very low success rate.  Based on estimates by the Mayo Clinic Nicotine Dependence Center, of the 100 people who try to quit smoking via cold turkey, only about three to five will succeed in the period of over six months.

Prescription Medicine.  Doctors’  prescribe medicine such as varenicline and bupropion to help curb the desire to smoke and manage withdrawal symptoms. These are usually prescribed over a 12-week treatment period, with success rates for varenicline and bupropion at 9.1% and 6.5% respectively.

Nicotine Replacement Therapy. Another way to stop smoking is through nicotine replacement therapy, using nicotine gum, patches, lozenges, and inhalers. In a study carried out by the University of Dundee Medical School, the efficacy of NRT aids are between 6 to 8%.

Counseling. Smoking cessation counseling can help make a significant impact on tobacco users trying to quit. Counselors provide behavioral support by finding triggers such as emotions or situations that make users want to smoke, and devise a plan to alleviate cravings.

E-cigarettes. In recent years, this small but fast-growing industry, positioned as an alternative to cigarette smoking, has been subject to increasing interest by various world governments as a possible smoking cessation option. One such country is the United Kingdom, where Public Health England (the Philippines’ version of the Food and Drug Administration) has long recognized the growing harm of smoking, and actively recommends British adult smokers to switch to e-cigarettes. A study that the agency conducted in February 2018 showed that using vape or e-cigarettes is 95% less harmful than smoking a traditional cigarette and were found to be about 5 to 10 times more effective than NRTs.

Combination Treatments.  The chances of quitting is seen to be better by combining different methods like NRT patches and sprays, prescription medicine with NRT, and NRT with counseling. Earlier this year, the New England Journal of Medicine published a study, which concluded that the use of e-cigarettes is more effective in helping smokers quit than other nicotine-replacement aids. Success rates, when accompanied by behavioral support, increase significantly.

Each year of quitting smoking comes with decreased health risks and improved health, making quitting smoking an excellent choice. The health benefits of quitting smoking begin in as little as an hour after the last cigarette and continues to improve over time.  Former smokers enjoy better blood pressure, improved lung function, and improved sense of taste and smell in just one month. Other effects like lowered risks of developing lung cancer and heart disease takes many years to reach the level of a non-smoker.

Behold God’s glory and seek His mercy.

Pause and pray, people.