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PHILIPPINES: Kontra Daya( AGAINST CHEATING) post election report

by AJLPP-USA Thursday, May. 24, 2007 at 3:44 PM
ajlpp_socal@yahoo.com 213-241-0906 337 Glendale Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026

Kontra Daya ( Against Cheating) congratulates the Filipino people for their continuing vigilance against poll fraud, election violence and other anomalies. This report would not have been possible were it not for the vigilance of ordinary people who acted as Kontra Daya volunteers, sent us their texts and emails or called the Kontra Daya hotline. We also congratulate the various people’s organizations, the vigilant media, the election watchdogs and international observers and other allied groups for their efforts in monitoring the conduct of the Philippine elections. The elections this year saw the rise of a more vigilant and conscious people who would not allow a repeat of the fraud-tainted 2004 polls. Kontra Daya’s preliminary post election report is based on the groups’ own documentation, field date from the Task Force Poll Watch, reports from the People’s International Observers Mission, correspondence with other watchdog groups such as Namfrel, Alliance of Concerned Teachers as well as media reports. The fight against election fraud and violence is by no means over. Kontra Daya expects more incidents of wholesale vote rigging to emerge in the following days. The dark forces trying to subvert the people’s will are working overtime. The people’s vigilance and collective action are needed now more than ever.

PHILIPPINES: Kontra Daya( AGAINST CHEATING) post election report

May 21st, 2007 by kontradaya



COMELEC, Arroyo Administration Both Liable for Questionable May 14 Polls

May 21, 2007

Manila--Kontra Daya (Against Cheating) congratulates the Filipino people for their continuing vigilance against poll fraud, election violence and other anomalies. This report would not have been possible were it not for the vigilance of ordinary people who acted as Kontra Daya volunteers, sent us their texts and emails or called the Kontra Daya hotline.

We also congratulate the various people’s organizations, the vigilant media, the election watchdogs and international observers and other allied groups for their efforts in monitoring the conduct of the Philippine elections. The elections this year saw the rise of a more vigilant and conscious people who would not allow a repeat of the fraud-tainted 2004 polls.



Kontra Daya’s preliminary post election report is based on the groups’ own documentation, field date from the Task Force Poll Watch, reports from the People’s International Observers Mission, correspondence with other watchdog groups such as Namfrel, Alliance of Concerned Teachers as well as media reports.

The fight against election fraud and violence is by no means over. Kontra Daya expects more incidents of wholesale vote rigging to emerge in the following days. The dark forces trying to subvert the people’s will are working overtime. The people’s vigilance and collective action are needed now more than ever.

General Conduct

In our initial statement immediately after the May 14 elections, we said that Election Day was a picture of chaos and confusion and that Filipinos could not freely and properly exercise their right to suffrage.

From the evening of May 13 up to the morning of May 14, Kontra Daya received reports of vote buying of various types. Aside from reports of cash being handed out to voters, there were also cases where groceries and even gasoline were being used to buy votes. Vote buying was widespread.

The worst forms of vote buying and bribery came from the pronouncements of government officials who offered monetary rewards of future favors to local officials in exchange for an administration senatorial sweep. We have to remember these pronouncements because in the counting and canvassing, the highly improbable (or near impossible) 12-0 Team Unity sweep would manifest itself in several regions.

Aside from reports of vote buying, Kontra Daya received various reports of voter disenfranchisement. The complaints of disenfranchisement often bore with it utter frustration and outrage over the inability of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to ensure that registered voters are able to vote in the correct precincts.

Entire families were being deprived of their right to vote because their precincts were allegedly being transferred or they were being “deactivated” from the list for allegedly failing to vote in previous elections. To date, there has been no satisfactory explanation from the COMELEC as to the disenfranchisement of voters (which some estimate may reach up to a 100,000 voters).

In our dialogue with the COMELEC as early as February 27, we already called on the poll body to release the voters’ list and precinct assignments early enough. Chairman Benjamin Abalos promised that the list would be released by March but this was not done.

Kontra Daya also belies the claim of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the COMELEC that the elections were generally “peaceful and orderly.” Such an assessment seems oblivious to the fact that the police themselves have tallied at least 143 election-related killings, since January 2007, in the run up to the elections. We suspect there to be more. We expect that the trend of violence will continue well into the canvassing stage of the elections.

Kontra Daya notes in particular the type of violence that resulted in the death of a teacher and a poll watcher in Taysan, Batangas; witnesses point to elements of the PNP as responsible for burning the ballot boxes and the polling center itself, causing the death of the victims. We also note the abduction and murder of two young poll watchers from the party list group Kabataan in Camarines Norte, and the enforced disappearance of two other poll watchers from Bayan Muna in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. These are just some examples of the election terror that is taking place with alarming frequency.



Déjà Vu 2004

Kontra Daya finds significant the reports of Maguindanao province delivering a 12-0 sweep for administration senatorial candidates. There are incoming reports that Sulu province is also poised to deliver a 12-0 sweep for Team Unity. Such an overnight sweep, which the government attributes to overwhelming popular support for the administration, simply strains credulity. Prior to the elections, when surveys showed the Opposition winning a sizeable majority of the votes, the Arroyo government had asked local officials to deliver an administration sweep in exchange for continued financial support from Malacañang. The Executive Secretary himself implied such a trade-off. Attempts to secure 12-0 results for TU have then been replicated in areas where local officials are loyal to the administration. In Bohol, for example, a province whose governor campaigned for charter change, the COMELEC reported that several towns registered a 12-0 sweep for the administration.

These developments indicate an unconvincing and improbable deviation from the national trend largely supporting the Opposition, as reported in pre-election surveys, the post-election media counts, exit polls, and the accredited NAMFREL count. We are disturbed that such unexplained TU “sweeps” are declared alongside the “failure of elections,” and the resulting postponement of “special elections” in 18 Mindanao towns to a date in late May.



Violence is often cited as the reason for the failure of elections in Mindanao. Kontra Daya believes that the violent and chaotic situation in key areas such as Lanao del Sur is being exploited by operators of electoral fraud.

We are concerned that the delay in Mindanao elections is programmed to allow extra time for “special operators” to pad votes and provide a sweep for all administration candidates in Mindanao, in the hope of increasing their electoral chances in the national count. It is also worth noting that prior to May 14, observers and the media have noted the sharp increase in registered voters in several areas in Mindanao, particularly in the same areas where wholesale vote-rigging was done in 2004.

The COMELEC has not assuaged serious and legitimate concerns by various groups regarding fraud in Mindanao. The continued presence of election officers, who had been implicated in the 2004 “Hello Garci” election fraud, does not help boost the credibility of the elections in the region and implies complicity to commit fraud on the part of the COMELEC.

Reports coming in suggest that election results in some areas in the ARMM were predetermined to favor the administration. Very disturbing are the reports of manufactured, doctored or otherwise questionable Election Returns proliferating in the region. At the very least, such news should be investigated, particularly since neither the Opposition nor accredited watchdogs like NAMFREL are being given their rightful copies of the returns by authorities in these regions, as they should be under the law.

Another immediate concern for Kontra Daya is the case of senatorial candidate Alan Peter Cayetano who is turning out to be a victim of electoral sabotage courtesy of the COMELEC. The Commission’s failure to immediately and satisfactorily resolve the disqualification of obvious nuisance candidate “Pepito Cayetano” is taking its toll on the vote count of Alan C. COMELEC’s confusing and flip-flopping policy “to stray or not to stray” the “Cayetano-only” ballots gives the impression that the poll body has set up Alan C. as an easy target of legalized vote-shaving.

Kontra Daya notes with great alarm the reports of systematic vote-shaving aimed at the Opposition and the militant partylist groups. As of the latest count, several Opposition candidates are likely targets of dagdag-bawas. These include Alan Cayetano, Antonio Trillanes and Koko Pimentel. The likelihood of vote-shaving is very real and has been reported by the media and by poll watchers of the Opposition and partylist groups.

At the National Board of Canvassers, it was recently discovered that figures on the Statement of Votes from Zambales failed to match those of the Certificates of Canvass by as much as 100,000 votes. The victims of this vote-shaving were GO candidates Alan Cayetano and Francis Escudero. COMELEC reported that the votes were later on restored.

From incoming field and media reports, we can say that there is an emerging trend of fraud being committed in certain areas and that this fraud obviously favors the administration by depriving votes for the Opposition and militant partylist groups.

The Role of the COMELEC

In our pre-election report released last April 13, we raised several areas of concern that the COMELEC, as a constitutionally mandated body, must address if there were to be credible elections. We believe these demands were doable and would go a long way in ensuring that the 2007 elections would not go the way of the Garci-tainted 2004 polls.

The issues Kontra Daya wanted COMELEC to address were:

the continued presence and promotions of election officials linked to the “Garci” scandal

the security of accountable election documents

implementation of crucial provisions of RA 9369

problems in the party list elections

the role of the military in the elections



With about a month left before the elections, we issued this final challenge to the COMELEC:

thorough investigation and reassignment to less critical positions of COMELEC regional directors and election officers implicated in the electoral fraud of 2004;

suspension and thorough audit of the operations of private printers inside the National Printing Office (NPO) with the immediate and full public disclosure of the contracts or lease agreements entered into by NPO with these private printers;

implementation of R.A. 9369, particularly Section 39 (projection of canvassing);

make public the list of nominees of party-list groups, revoke the accreditation of party-lists proven to be connected to the incumbent administration and/or government agencies, and put a stop to the harassment of legitimate party-lists and their nominees.

order the withdrawal of AFP troops from urban areas, charge officers and enlisted personnel involved in electioneering, and immediately reassign military commanders in areas where extrajudicial killings take place;

The COMELEC failed to address all these demands satisfactorily. The conditions for wholesale fraud persist.



COMELEC Officials from the Garci Scandal

The COMELEC has resisted citizens’ demands for the investigation, or reassignment to less sensitive positions, of the election officials implicated in the Garci tapes. In fact, election official Rey Sumalipao, who had been implicated in the Garci tapes, was promoted to head COMELEC operations for the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), an area where massive fraud is said to be already taking place.

Security of Election Documents

The COMELEC failed to ensure the security of accountable forms such as Election Returns and Certificates of Canvass. Just before Election Day, ABS-CBN senior correspondent Ricky Carandang reported on what appeared to be “genuine” Election Returns that had all the proper security markings. The documents were said to be for sale. There are persistent reports from the media about “fake” ER’s.

Early on in the campaign, Kontra Daya already warned that the presence of private printers producing ER’s would compromise the security of these election documents. The situation with private printers operated by private employees leaves materials such as papers, plates and/or films vulnerable for illegal printing and the commission of wholesale fraud. In the face of such a warning, and in light of the ensuing theft of the forms, the COMELEC and the National Printing Office cannot claim they have secured said forms. In fact, the theft underscores COMELEC’s (willful or unintended) negligence and dereliction of duty over the security of vital election documents.

Implementation of RA 9369

In the issue of the non-implementation of crucial provisions of R.A. 9369, particularly Section 39 (projection of canvassing), the COMELEC merely pointed out its lack of funds. No other explanation was given and no other effort to fully implement the law was seen.

Partylist Issues

In the case of questionable party list groups, Kontra Daya issued a list of 22 groups it believes were either created by or had links with Malacañang and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Subsequently, a memorandum from the Office of the External Affairs (OEA), an office under the direct supervision of the Office of the President, surfaced. It revealed that one of OEA’s officials, who also happens to be a nominee of an administration-backed party list group, had requested funding from the Office of the President. The Supreme Court has also issued a decision for the COMELEC to release all the names of the nominees of party list groups that it had refused to divulge to the public.

Despite these developments, the Commission has not investigated or taken action against any of the party list groups and their nominees who clearly do not qualify as “marginalized groups” in accord with the spirit and the letter of the relevant constitutional provision on party lists. Inaction appears to be the standard response of the COMELEC to all demands for reforms and rectification.

The Role of the Military

The elections in 2007 are far, far worse than that of 2004 with regard to the AFP’s uncalled for and illegitimate involvement. The People’s International Observers Mission (PIOM), Task Force Poll Watch and Kontra Daya’s own election monitoring showed unacceptable patterns of intervention coming from military units and their officials. If in 2004 only some generals were involved in fraud (as revealed by the “Garci tapes”), in 2007 we can say that the entire chain of command was being used and manipulated for the purposes of fraud and violence.

The COMELEC has failed to stop the AFP from engaging in partisan political activities. Two of the most glaring examples are the AFP’s vilification campaign against militant party list groups and the AFP’s all-out support for administration bets and party list groups. The AFP in Metro Manila also attempted to clothe its smear campaign in the guise of a “voters’ education program,” a move immediately unmasked and opposed by various citizens’ groups.

There are persistent reports that high-ranking officials of the military are using the chain of command to force soldiers to vote for administration bets and party list groups. Fact-finding bodies like the PIOM noted that in Nueva Ecija, soldiers coerced people to vote for the Bantay partylist of Gen. Jovito Palparan. Media reports, on the other hand, also say that local absentee voting for soldiers were conducted under questionable conditions. Despite all these issues, the COMELEC has turned a blind eye to the blatant partisanship exhibited by the AFP and its officials.

Initial Conclusions

The 2007 elections are compromised by the COMELEC’s failure to ensure the credibility of the polls. At the least, it failed to dismantle the structural systems and conditions encouraging wholesale fraud. At most, it showed complicity with blatant acts of fraud and other violations of the Election Code. Even the traditional watchdog groups such as Namfrel and PPCRV, that are official citizens’ arms of the COMELEC, have carefully refrained from issuing statements absolving the COMELEC of election negligence, mismanagement or sabotage.

Kontra Daya raises these general statements on the 2007 elections:

1. There are initial indications that the Arroyo administration is engaged in large-scale electoral fraud in an attempt to secure favorable results for its candidates in the national elections (senatorial and party-list).



a. Throughout the campaign period and right up to Election Day, Malacanang led and directed a massive campaign of vote-buying for its candidates.



b. Malacanang has made partisan use of the military to campaign for administration candidates and against opposition groups especially the militant party lists.



c. In the ongoing period of counting and canvassing of votes, efforts to directly manipulate the election results in favor of Malacanang’s candidates and against the administration’s opponents (senatorial candidates and party-list groups) are underway.



2. COMELEC is directly complicit with the Arroyo administration in perpetrating the ongoing electoral fraud.



a. At its highest level, the COMELEC issued statements, policies, and resolutions that were in accordance with the interests of Malacanang particularly in the Cayetano case, the Robredo disqualification, and the “Malacanang partylist” issue.



b. The COMELEC laid the groundwork for electoral fraud which include among others the private printing of election forms, padded voters’ list, selective implementation of laws and the last-minute appointment of BEIs.



c. The COMELEC also aided and abetted fraud through its inaction on numerous blatant violations of election laws from the shameless vote-buying by administration officials to the blatant partisanship of the AFP.



d. The presence and promotion of election officers previously linked to fraud in Mindanao also shows complicity to commit fraud on the part of the COMELEC.



e. COMELEC chairman Abalos in particular makes it a point to rationalize if not cover up election-related anomalies which have come to light. He too is in a state of almost total denial when it comes to election fraud.



Two days after the elections, the Arroyo administration was quick to point out that an administration win at the local levels was a vote for “stability and progress”. COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos also claimed that the elections were a “vindication” for the poll body.

Neither claim is generally accepted. The popular public sentiment right now is that the Arroyo administration is abetting election fraud and engaging in terror tactics in the provinces. Reports of vote-shaving and manipulation, bribery, military harassment and extrajudicial killings all cast serious doubt on the outcome of the elections.

The strong lead shown by the Opposition and militant partylist groups in the COMELEC count do not disprove fraud; rather it reveals a popular preference for them so strong it is overwhelming even the most proven fraud tactics during the canvass. The Opposition and the progressives are winning the count despite the cheating.

The following days will be crucial as the canvassing of votes continues and the possibility of wholesale fraud looms even more. Kontra Daya calls on the people to exercise heightened vigilance and to start sending a strong message to the COMELEC, the AFP and the Arroyo administration that electoral fraud in any form will be politically costly for this regime.

***********

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