Today's Punto
Today's Punto
Whose voice? Which god?
By Bong Lacson

Jun 08, 2017

“THE VOICE of the people is the voice of God. This means that if the people of Mabalacat voted for him in 2016, whatever case filed against him could be dismissed by the Supreme Court because the people have already spoken.”

So spoke last week top election lawyer Romy Macalintal, confident that his client Mayor Marino “Boking” Morales would remain fitted and fixed to the post he has occupied for the past 22 years notwithstanding the recent Comelec en banc resolution ordering his eviction.

Dare sayeth Macalintal further: “The Supreme Court may commit mistakes, but the people never.”

At Monday’s flag-raising, beyond merely mouthing Macalintal, Boking channeled his old self, putting the numbers – all of 40,147 votes – to the divine voice. As he always did in every election he won, invariably contested by the losers, and inevitably Comelec-ted, if not TROed, to his favor.

In the current scheme of Boking, finds new relevance this piece from the now long dead Pampanga News, dated Jan. 6-Feb. 1, 2006.

The voice of our gods

IT is the favorite ejaculation of my favorite mayor: Vox populi, vox dei, with, perhaps, the least idea of its etymology: from late 15th century, the Renaissance abloom, and Il Papa’s sole proprietorship over God’s word challenged.

Most assuredly though, he – my mayor, knows full well the argumentative efficacy of his oracion, having invoked it at each of his questioned poll victories. Its potency proven most definitively in his unprecedented four terms – and still counting, making him a firm believer in the power of the vote, a firmer believer in the power of the Comelec, and the firmest believer, I would so presume, in the power of prayer.

So enshrined in our so-called democratic tradition is the sanctity of the ballot. From our youth, we were led to believe – and without question accept – the element of the divine in the exercise of suffrage. The curtained poll booth in the pre-and immediate post-Martial Law years even resembled a confessional. Thus, the affected infallibility of our election results: God speaking with the voice of his people. Blaspheming reprobate is he that dares question the word of God!

Vox populi, vox dei takes roots in the Book of Genesis, at the very instance of Creation itself, if I may advance so myself, neither knowing nor having read any priest, philosopher or political scientist having said it. (Let me know if I appropriated somebody’s statement so I can promptly and properly apologize.)

Read Genesis 1:26-27: “God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, to our likeness…’ So God created man in his image; in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”

What is it that makes man, and woman – to be gender-correct – unlike all of creation, in the likeness of his Creator? Will and reason.

The exercise of our free will is that we most share with the Divine. As voting is an exercise of our free will and use of our reason, our choice thus corresponds with that of God: our voice becoming God’s.

The cynic that I have become in things political now asks: Which god?

In the pursuit of our electoral exercises do we, as we should, to quote Baruch Spinoza, “… use in security all (our) endowments, mental and physical, and make free use of (our) reason”?

Reason, my ass. Reason is at its weakest when passion is at its strongest. This is borne in Philippine elections: always visceral, rarely, very, very rarely cerebral. There lies a chasm as unbridgeable as sin between man and God. So, what voice of God do we talk about in election results?

Fettered on patronage, the electorate makes the vote a commodity to trade for some favor, given or promised, or to directly sell for cash. The outrageous outburst of Gouverneur Morris at the time of the infancy of the American nation comes of age: “Give the vote to the people who have no property, and they will sell them to the rich, who will be able to buy them.” Not only able but willing and raring to buy them.

Factored on popularity, the electoral choices tax the intellect of the gnat. Were a brain pool of the country’s elected officials established, it most surely would fit the head of a pin.

Fault not the elected. Damn the electorate. So, we have clowns and idiots in the Houses, so we are clowns and idiots ourselves. An iteration ad nauseam: We just don’t deserve whom we elect. We are whom we elect. The booboisie, as H.L. Mencken put it, is us. And our vote, the “great right grossly abused, and has become, in practice, a grave wrong.”

Still, we adhere to the veracity of vox populi, vox dei.

But the voice of the people has become the voice – not of God – but of their gods: the lord of numbers, the lord of celluloid illusion, the god of goons, the glorious goddess of the tapes.

Aye, Alcuin, the English scholar and theologian of the 8th century, is right: “And those people should not be listened to who keep saying the voice of the people is the voice of God, since the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness.”

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