BY ALEXANDER MARTIN REMOLLINO
Breaking News / Election Watch
May 21, 2007 – 2:41pm
The poll monitoring group Kontra Daya (Anti-Fraud) has called on the next Congress to impeach Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Benjamin Abalos for what it described as the “questionable, tainted” character of the recently-concluded senatorial and local elections.
Kontra Daya made this call as the group – which has among its conveners former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Jr., Fr. Joe Dizon, former Transportation and Communication Secretary Josie Lichauco, retired Army Col. Gerry Cunanan, and film director Carlitos Siguion Reyna – marched this morning with more than a hundred members of the multi-sectoral Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance) to the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), where the national canvassing of votes is being held.
“Abalos says this election will serve as his legacy, but he is not doing anything to make it credible,” Dizon said in an interview. “If he doesn’t want to resign, he should be impeached.”
In its preliminary post-election report released today, Kontra Daya blamed the government poll body for failing to address what it described as “the conditions for wholesale electoral fraud.”
Discrepancies in figures indicated in the statements of votes and certificates of canvass from Zambales, a Central Luzon province, were discovered late last week during the national canvassing at the PICC. The discrepancies were found to have shaved 100,000 votes each from Genuine Opposition senatorial candidates Francis “Chiz” Escudero and Alan Peter Cayetano.
Meanwhile, Task Force Poll Watch (TFPW), an election monitoring group formed by party-list groups, found that vote-shaving in at least 10 of the country’s provinces caused Genuine Opposition senatorial candidate Loren Legarda and the progressive party-list groups Bayan Muna (People First), Anakpawis (Toiling Masses), and Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP) a 73-percent loss of votes.
TFPW data showed that based on election returns, Legarda and the three party-list groups got 9,739 votes in the 10 provinces accounted for. They were, however, credited with only 2,534 votes at the canvassing stage, TFPW data further showed.
These developments have emerged in the wake of reports that the Mindanao provinces of Maguindanao and Sulu were delivering 12-0 victories for the administration coalition Team Unity.
On election day, rampant vote-buying in Davao Oriental – another Mindanao province – was reported by no less than the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) office in Region XI.
Sittie Sundang, secretary-general of the Moro human rights group Kawagib, had disclosed on May 14 that election returns are being sold in Mindanao for P40,000-60,000 a set. A few days before that, Hadji Abdullah Dalidig, a National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) official in the Mindanao province of Lanao del Sur, had revealed that negotiations for dagdag-bawas to favor three Team Unity candidates had taken place in Mindanao.
“The problem with Comelec is that it does not conduct investigations motu propio,” Dizon said. “Thus it shares liability and complicity in cases of fraud.”
Dizon called on the people to bring their protests against electoral fraud to the streets. “This time, press conferences will no longer suffice,” he said.
Meanwhile, Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes, Jr. warned of broad protest actions if what he described as the “rising trend of fraud and election terror” continues.
“We want the perpetrators of these acts to know that we are fighting back with protest actions,” Reyes said during the rally. “We are warning the regime that if these acts of fraud and terror continue, there will be more street actions from forces across the political spectrum.”
Kontra Daya and Bayan announced that a broader protest action will be held also at the PICC on Wednesday afternoon.(Bulatlat.com)