Manila— The anti-fraud group Kontra Daya has received information on fraud committed during the May 10 elections in one of the island municipalities in Basilan.
The area is a newly created municipality with no electricity and with weak cellular phone signals.
According to Kontra Daya, the information came in the form of affidavits executed by members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) who had served in the polling places there, as well as by pollwatchers and registered voters. Executing the affidavits were 16 persons from different barangays in the island municipality.
In their affidavits, the BEI members told of how armed men snatched the ballot boxes from them as they were bringing these to the polling places. The armed men divided the ballots among themselves and shaded these. Based on the affidavits Kontra Daya received, this type of incident took place in more than one precinct.
The pollwatchers corroborated the teachers’ accounts in their own affidavits, and together with the registered voters also told of how they were refused entry by armed men whom they identified as hirelings of the then-incumbent mayor. The armed men, they said, allowed a small number of token voters in but decided who among the voters would be allowed to vote, and instructed them on who to vote for.
“The information we received confirmed fears that it is possible to commit fraud even in an automated election system,” said Kontra Daya convener Fr. Joe Dizon.
“We are now trying to gather information on whether or not similar incidents took place in other provinces, particularly in the ARMM (Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao),” Dizon added.
Dizon said they are withholding the witnesses’ names for now for security reasons. “But we have their assurance and commitment that they will come out at the proper time and venue,” he said.
Renato Reyes Jr., another Kontra Daya convener, meanwhile said what happened in the island municipality in Basilan shows that automation alone cannot solve all the ills of the electoral system.
“This is one of the problems that automation wasn’t able to solve,” Reyes said. “Fraud remains very possible in far-flung, technologically backward areas where warlordism holds sway.”