Nothing Short of Chaka
Picking off from my commentary piece for Philippine Online Chronicles.
The logic of the Commission on Elections Second Division is one that comes straight off Planet Eksprokenengneng: that Ang Ladlad’s motion to be registered as a party-list group for the 2010 polls should be denied based on moral grounds. Had the grounds for denying and failing the petition been (more) legal, (more) Constitutional, and deemed acceptable based on the universal right of suffrage and freedom of assembly, then there would not have been outrage.
The Comelec positioned itself, in this case, not as an arbiter of the right to suffrage and representation, but an arbiter of morals. The precinct became a pulpit, the Second Division became a confessional box, and Nicodemo Ferrer, Lucienito Tagle, and Elias Yousoph overstepped their bounds to dictate morality: what they say is right, and what they say is wrong.
Party-list representation – that mechanism by which the marginalized should be represented based on the will of the people and the strength of the cause manifested in the vote – became, in this case, a moral litmus test.
It is Comelec’s business to disqualify a party-list group based on the wisdom of the law, not on the wisdom of God. God’s wisdom, infinite and impossible to perceive by the intelligence of even the most intelligent humans, is something left to Him and Him alone. To use that in a decision to deny people’s rights – voters’ rights – under a democracy is to use the name of the Lord in vain.
Being a minority, or claiming the status of being marginalized, is not a function of statistics or population. Indigenous peoples, the youth, gays and lesbians, the working class, and so on and so forth can lay claim to that condition precisely because their causes are not represented fully, fairly, and equitably in the political system. Party-list representation, for all its flaws, seeks to remedy that by laying causes and advocacies in the forum that is the elections: should the people decide that this cause is near to them, important to them, and should be represented, then it should – and it will – be voted and put into a more responsive position to put forth their agenda. That is within the law. That is within the recognition that we all have rights.
Then there’s the balaj, medieval, jutanders thinking of the Comelec Second Division’s commissioners who penned the decision: the willing, deliberate ignorance of the plight of gays, lesbians, and the transgendered. The fact that bigotry exists in all levels of society based solely on one’s gender and sexual orientation is sufficient justification for oppression and marginalization: more than that, the Second Division even validated that bigotry and articulated it in eight pages of what any clear-thinking citizen would dismiss as nothing but the cheapangga kind of chorva peddled around only because the people who penned it were powerful. That they can leverage their responsibilities to determine right and wrong for millions of voters. That the right to vote, the freedom to assemble, and the avenue to create your own party to represent your cause should only pass under the eyes of Comelec commissioners playing judges in American Idol.
For all the flaws that anyone can see in the party-list system, I leave it upon the wisdom of the Comelec commissioners to decide what causes are qualified under the laws of the land, and the stipulations present to be recognized as a party-list group. That wisdom should come with a thorough understanding of the law; far more thorough that we, as ordinary citizens, would read and understand of things already present in the Constitution that justifies on all counts the motion of Ang Ladladto, at the very least, run for a seat in Congress.
That the petition of Ang Ladlad signed was failed because they were representing gay, lesbian, and transgendered people and their causes for a free, just society. Yes, just because they were gay. Moral? Legal? Justifiable? I reiterate: chura niyo.