BY EMILY VITAL
May 25,2007 – 3:46 p.m.
Election watchdog Kontra Daya has sent a team to Lanao del Sur to observe the special elections on Saturday.
Led by Emmie de Jesus, one of the Kontra Daya convenors, the six-person team left for Lanao del Sur early morning, Friday. Nitz Mahinay serves as the team’s legal counsel.
Fr. Joe Dizon, Kontra Daya spokesperson said, “As operators of electoral fraud are all set to manipulate the outcome of the special elections, all eyes are on Lanao del Sur. We fervently hope that the people’s vigilance will reduce, if not thwart, their evil plans.”
Dizon slammed the deployment of four Army battalions and almost two battalions of policemen to Lanao del Sur purportedly to ensure the smooth operations of the elections.
Elections Commissioner Rene Sarmiento announced that “the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) will play the lead role, supported by the Philippine National Police.”
Dizon said, “By mobilizing the AFP, the Comelec has not only reaffirmed its ineffectiveness but has also proven its role as the main machinery of the Arroyo administration for cheating and terrorizing the people.”
Dizon said, “Elements of the AFP do not guard the people’s votes. They are there to terrorize the people.” He said that Kontra Daya received various complaints from voters regarding military and police harassment in different parts of the country before, during and after the May 14 elections. He cited the cases of harassment in Quezon, Laguna, Cebu, Batangas.
Two retired generals Arturo Lomibao, a former PNP chief, and Jovito Palparan Jr., also went to Lanao del Sur.
Dizon said, “The two generals have one thing in common: allegiance to their commander in chief, Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Who would not think they are there to ensure the victory of administration candidates?”
Dizon said the “mere presence of Palparan reveals the real motives of the AFP and of the Arroyo administration.” He added, “The human rights violator cannot claim non-partisanship. Besides being the first nominee of Bantay party-list, he has consistently vilified progressive, anti-Arroyo party-list groups.”
In a separate statement, Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo also condemned the deputization of soldiers. “”The administration has become utterly desperate to trump the opposition juggernaut in the senatorial race and to sabotage the current standing of anti-Arroyo partylist groups. Now, it is using the military to obviously influence, if not harass, the people of 13 Lanao del Sur towns to vote for President Arroyo’s pet candidates and pro-Arroyo partylists,” said Ocampo.
Ocampo added, “Lest we forget, the AFP has vigorously spoken against the candidacy of Antonio Trillanes and has actively campaigned against our partylist organizations. Palparan meanwhile is desperately wanting to win as Bantay partylist representative because his group is lagging behind despite massive military support,” said Ocampo. (Bulatlat.com)