- Politics and Social Issues»
- Social Issues
Citizen's Group Formed to Counter Massive Fraud and Failure of Elections in the Philippines
“With the Ampatuan Massacre and the arrest and detention of 43 health workers in Morong, we need only one big (thing) to happen in the Visayas."
Philippines - Fears of massive fraud and failure of elections gave birth to a new alliance Kontra Daya 2010 (Citizen’s Action Against Fraud 2010) launched in Intramuros, Manila, Philippines.
The election watchdog group aims to closely monitor the upcoming May 2010 elections and rally the public accordingly if the will of the electorate is frustrated by massive fraud and failure of the elections.
Kontra Daya 2010, which was launched yesterday morning in Intramuros, Manila, has this early raised several fears about the May elections. These include the possibility of massive fraud and failure of elections, the rigging of polls, repeat of electoral fraud by the Macapagal-Arroyo administration and her desire to cling to power after her term ends June 30.
Kontra Daya’s objective is to have “credible and acceptable elections,” said one of the convenors, the former Lingayen-Dagupan Roman Catholic Archbishop Oscar Cruz, in a press conference organized for the launch. “With the number of warnings and complaints we have received and signs (that are making themselves felt), there is every reason to be worried about May 2010.”
Another Kontra Daya Convenor, Catholic priest Rev. Jose Dizon of Solidarity Philippines said “We want to prepare the people to take action in case the worst scenario takes place”.
Rev. Dizon said that in the event of a worst-case scenario, failure of elections or a declaration of martial law – or both – the people should stage civil disobedience. Sr. Mary John Mananzan, a Catholic nun of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP), another convener, expressed a similar view.
Another convener, screenwriter and actress Bibeth Orteza, spokesperson of the Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change, said she is uncertain if the elections would push through.
“With the Ampatuan Massacre and the arrest and detention of 43 health workers in Morong, we need only one big (thing) to happen in the Visayas to complete the justification for declaring martial law. The government is establishing an atmosphere among all the people,” said Orteza. The Visayas is the third largest cluster of Islands in the Philippines.
Rev. Dizon said there are clear indications of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's desire to remain in power beyond 2010.” President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the current head of state is considered by many Filipinos as the most corrupt, most murderous and illegitimate president who engineered a massive electorate fraud to win the last presidential elections. She has solidified her stay in power by appointing generals accused of serious human rights violations and loyal military officials to government and important civilian posts.
“With the long history of fraud and manipulation involving the Comelec and other government agencies to favor the incumbent regime, the concerns about the automated elections are serious and require action,” said another convenor, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance) secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr. “We have to be ready to mobilize in huge numbers, should there be a failure of elections. We cannot let Mrs. Arroyo take advantage of that situation and perpetuate herself in power.”
In 2001, following the ouster of then-President Joseph Estrada through a people-power uprising, then Vice President Arroyo was installed as president. She ran in the 2004 presidential elections, and won over her closest rival, the late actor Fernando Poe Jr., amid allegations of massive fraud and violence.
Arroyo whose term of office ends in June 30 of this year is currently seeking a seat as the representative of Pampanga’s (province) second district at the House of Representatives. Critics believe this is part of a plot to install Arroyo as House Speaker, to be followed by charter-change amendments from presidential to a parliamentary form of government, and declaring her as prime minister. This will then enable her to hold power beyond June 30.
Another convener, Fernando Poe’s daughter Grace Poe-Llamanzares, said the people need to be vigilant in order to ensure that her father’s experience in 2004 will not be repeated.
In the well-known and controversial “Hello Garci” recordings, a woman with a voice similar to Arroyo’s is heard instructing an election official – whose voice sounds like that of former Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano – to rig the 2004 presidential polls and secure for her a victory of “more than 1M” over Poe. Arroyo went on to trounce Poe by more than a million votes.
Other conveners who attended were Dr. Giovanni Tapang, who chairs the scientists’ group Agham and teaches physics at the University of the Philippines (UP); Henri Kahn of the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM); Ferdinand Gaite of the Confederation for the Unity, Recognition and Advancement of Government Employees (Courage); Alfred Pascual of the Automated Election System (AES) Watch; screenwriter and actress Bibeth Orteza, spokesperson of the Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change; Alvin Peters of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance) secretary-general Renato Reyes Jr.
Convenors noted that there was a high likelihood of failure of elections taking place due to automated polls believed to be prone to external and internal hacking, dubious source code of the software that will be used and data transmission safety concerns.
“There seems to be a planned failure of elections,” convenors warned. They cited as indicators the one-month delay and slow pace printing of ballots, which could lead to a massive disenfranchisement of voters.
Others noted the lack of physical and internal preparations for the conduct of automated elections and the absence of a contingency plan and proper steps to be implemented “if things go wrong”.
Kontra Daya’s concerns are contained in a letter to Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Jose Melo, prepared by the conveners.
Kontra Daya conveners also criticized what they described as the time-consuming character of the automated election system. They noted the rejection of ballots and difficulties in the transmission of results in field tests and mock elections conducted all over the country in the past few weeks.
“The biggest fear of people right now, candidates included, is that the automated election system is vulnerable to rigging or that there may be failure of elections if all does not go well.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) must adopt a self-critical outlook so that the problems and vulnerabilities can be addressed,” they added.
Kontra Daya aims to field volunteers nationwide. The group encourages the participation of the people in their greatest numbers in monitoring the conduct and results of the 2010 elections. Kontra Daya’s website, www.kontradaya.com, shows the results of field tests and mock elections, as well as several articles on other issues regarding the 2010 elections.
(Source – Condensed from the report of ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO of