Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Int’l monitors: RP polls marred by 3 G’s, cheating

The National Board of Canvassers had finally convened two days after May 14, 2007 is a delaying tactics to iron-out a “credible” dagdag-bawas scheme (vote padding and shaving). Any delay may create tension among die-hard political supporters. The center of political and economic power Metro Manila had repudiated the illegitimate Gloria Arroyo government. Mercenary election’s fraud operators are determined to thwart the true people’s mandate with the blessings from their evil patroness. Gloria Arroyo’s political survival is at stake. It appears that partisan Comelec chief Benjamin Abalos wants to gag TV-radio quick count upon the orders from Malacanang despite of signed ABS-CBN Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with STI and the COMELEC to conduct a media count. The Filipino people won’t allow massive cheating in favor of losing TUTA candidates. As expected, the Comelec has no credibility to conduct clean and honest elections. Be fair and come clean Senor Abalos. Public anger is ready to explode. Only time can tell.

Foreign poll observers: We felt safer in Afghanistan

Int’l monitors: RP polls marred by 3 G’s, cheating

By Michaela P. del Callar

Daily Tribune 05/17/2007

Malacañang and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) appear to have failed in projecting to the international community that they had conducted fair, fraud-free, peaceful and orderly elections, as accredited international monitors yesterday told reporters that elections in the country were marred by bombings, intimidation, vote-buying and cheating.
Members of the group told reporters yesterday that they witnessed two bombings, encountered two armed groups and saw election rules being openly ignored.
Money to buy votes was handed out openly. “The transactions took place very blatantly. Our presence did not deter them at all,” said Mohamad Yunus Lebai Ali, a Malaysian lecturer and one of the monitors.
The 21-member team from the Bangkok-based Asian Network For Free Elections (Anfrel) visited the six provinces of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) for the May 14 midterm elections to witness the campaigning, voting and counting.
The international monitors warned that the credibility of democracy was under threat in a region where powerful families still dominate politics.
Asian poll observers showed dismay at the culture of impunity for elections, manipulation of votes, and prevalence of political violence in ARMM.
The Anfrel and the National Institute for Electoral Integrity denounced electoral fraud and the use of violence and force in ARMM to undermine the democratic process or gain votes.
“In terms of peacefulness, we all can agree that the atmosphere is not conducive for elections. In terms of security, we get it from our experience in the field. Like my colleague from Thailand, she experienced two bombing incidents in polling centers and encountered two armed groups. I do not feel physically safe. What more about the voters?” NIEI Director Ali said in yesterday’s press conference.
Ali said the 21 Anfrel observers, who were deployed to the ARMM provinces on election day, witnessed polling problems, violation of the secrecy of the vote, cheating, violence and commission of election offenses.
“From our own direct observation and our own experience we saw manipulation and the buying of votes. It’s not to say election is fair. We saw how protection took place, many cases of vote manipulation. It’s very hard to say there was no cheating up to election day,” he said.
Ali said the group observed a lot of coaching inside precincts wherein voters were being commanded to write the names of certain candidates.
“And I myself observed flying voters in truckloads with 20-25 of them coming to precincts. No security of votes,” he said, adding: “It’s not free, no individual freedom to vote candidates they like.”
Anfrel Director Somri Hananontasuk of Thailand, meanwhile, said she finds military presence in polling centers unusual and disturbing.
“There was deployment of military outside schools or voting centers. (In Thailand ), we see them (only) in (instances of) national disasters and earthquakes,” she said.
“In our country we don’t have crowded polling stations. (Here), voters talk and look at each other so (there is) no secrecy of votes. In Philippine elections there’s no secrecy,” she pointed out.
For his part, coordinator Amim Shah bin Iskandor ( Malaysia ) said he was “impressed” with the vigilance displayed by non-government election watchdogs National Movement for Free Elections and Parish Pastoral Counting for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).
The Genuine Opposition’s allegations appear to have been backed up by the reports of the international monitors.
GO yesterday unearthed the alleged massive cheating being done by the administration in the ARMM which shows the two survey tail enders as the top vote getters in Mindanao: Luis Chavit Singson and Prospero Pichay.
Adel Tamano, spokesperson for GO, revealed the dreaded “cheating mode” of the administration, saying that “it’s quite obvious the elections were rigged in ARMM. It is so statistically improbable for voters to vote 12 straight if you are going to vote,” Tamano told reporters late afternoon.
According to Tamano, what was really suspicious was the fact that their top vote getter, Loren Legarda, was nowhere near the top 20 in the ARMM.
The other senatorial bets, Francis “Chiz” Escudero, Manuel Villar, Panfilo Lacson and even independent candidate Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan landed from numbers 13 to 16.
“When I was informed it was 12-0, I was surprised,” he said.
Earlier, deputy campaign spokesperson Tonypet Albano said TU is not surprised to get a 12-0 in Mindanao since they believe that the local executives will carry them and that contrary to popular belief people trust Singson.
Albano said in other areas such as Isabela and Eastern Samar the 12-0 vote for TU was also assured.
Escudero landed in the 13th spot but according to Tamano, a big difference with what can be seen as based on the Comelec tally.
It is also reported that 72 percent of the election returns have been counted in Maguindanao.
It also reported a 90 percent voter’s turn-out.
Tamano also said that in Datu Unsay there are 10,172 registered voters and 10,160 voted.
In Southern Kudarat, out of 10,999 registered voters, 10,664 voted.
Observers from Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Thailand spent eight days observing pre-election situations and Election Day last May 14 throughout the six provinces of ARMM, visiting more than 500 precincts.
Anfrel recommended that the problem of impunity for election offenses must be addressed and that overspending by political candidates must be discouraged and their source of funding should be declared.
They added that the Comelec must be “more professional and needs to disqualify those who misuse their power and that local elections should be more professional and candidates who abuse their power must be disqualified.
Anfrel also said that law on modernization should be implemented in preparation for the upcoming presidential polls in 2010.
Meanwhile, with the majority of GO headed in the count for victory, opposition figures expressed fear over massive cheating by the administration’s poll operators to overturn the opposition victory in the polls.
Detained Rep. Crispin Beltran said all efforts must be exerted now to ensure that Malacañang will not be able to sneak in more of its TU candidates in the Top 12 through cheating.
Beltran said that it was already clear that Malacañang is manipulating to have GO bet Alan Peter Cayetano dropped from the winners’ circle by having votes for him invalidated on the grounds of a paltry legal technicality.
Reports that President Arroyo is now highly busy making phone calls and that there are countless incidences of Election Returns switching or theft should make the Filipino people vigilant. We must not allow a repeat of the ‘Hello, Garci’ scam and allow the Arroyo government to secure a stolen victory,” he said.
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel also yesterday voiced suspicions over the very premature conceding of former Virgilio “Garci” Garcillano in the Bukidnon polls, saying that this was probably his message that he was now free to “perform” poll operations and at the same time, collect a hefty fee for his services that would more than pay for the expenses he incurred for his campaign.
Pimentel also reported that some five cheating operators who are alleged to have connections with the Comelec recently arrived in Davao City to ensure a delay in the canvassing of votes and gain more time to manipulate the election results to favor TU candidates.
Also, Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPeg), in an initial assessment, said that the voters’ turnout during the May 14 elections was the lowest in six years.
According to Prof. Bobby Tuazon, the low turnout could be attributed to widespread disenfranchisement even as he said that in the National Capital region the turnout has dropped to a low of 50 to 60 percent only.
Comelec claimed a turnout of some 70-80 percent.
Reports reaching CenPeg showed that possibly hundreds of thousands of voters were directly disenfranchised with the names of many legitimate voters missing in master lists or names found in other precincts.
He said there were also complaints of missing precincts, many master lists unreadable, delayed opening of polling precincts, and of voting marked by long queues thus preventing many voters from casting their ballots while others were harassed by soldiers and police not to vote for certain partylist groups.
He said reports culled from Task Force Poll Watch (TFPW) of Party-list groups, the PPCRV, Kontra Daya, monitoring by UP mass communication student volunteers, foreign observers missions as well as partial field reports from 30 provinces also showed that many voters complained about their names missing in master lists while groups of voters were harassed and prevented from going to their precincts. With Gerry Baldo, Jojo Arazas and AFP

Related Links
Blatant Vote-Buying, Manipulation in ARMM
12-0 for TU in Maguindanao; Singson tops Senate slate
Poll Anomaly in Maguindanao
Summary of Cases on Election Related Fraud and Violence

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