“We need to ready ourselves for an intensified fight for our democratic rights.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — Youth groups from Kabataan Partylist and League of Filipino Students trooped in front of the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), the national canvassing venue, on Monday night, May 9.
The groups marched to PICC with banners saying “VCM: Vote Cheating Machine,” “Don’t Hack Our Vote,” and “MARuming Halalan, labanan.”
“We cannot just stand and wait for the results while more and more cases of election fraud get reported. Readily, we march to condemn the massive electoral fraud that marred Election Day,” Kabataan Party-list Rep. Terry Ridon said in a statement.
On election day, poll watchdog Kontra Daya received several reports of electoral glitches and fraud. The groups fear that these glitches will lead to the disenfranchisement of millions of Filipino voters and cast doubts on the election result.
“We have foreseen this scenario for months and have continually called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to make extra efforts to ensure the smooth facilitation of the elections. Yet our calls fell on deaf ears. Comelec proudly announced that it was prepared for the elections, but the outcome tells a different story,” Ridon said.
LFS national chairperson Charisse Bañez also expressed alarm over massive reports of malfunctions of VCMs. She said these machines that supposed to record and count the Filipinos’ votes “are the very machines that cast uncertainties.” She added that complaints of this year’s election have notably increased right after polling centers and precincts opened.
As of 7:00 p.m. on May 9, Kontra Daya has recorded 181 reports of VCM error/failure. Kontra Daya said reports of malfunctioning/non-functioning VCMs were reported across all 17 cities within the capital and 24 provinces nationwide.
“The VCMs are definitely tools for massive electoral fraud. VCMs are Vote Cheating Machines,” Bañez said.
Ridon said that the sheer number of VCM troubles reveal a “planned, organized, massive automated cheating” which he said could be orchestrated by the administration especially its standard bearer Mar Roxas has poor performance in pre-election surveys.
“The puzzle pieces are falling into place. All signs point to one conclusion: a tainted and marred elections,” Ridon said.
“We would not be surprised if Comelec announces that the national elections passed breezily without any glitch whatsoever. However, that is far from the truth. Election-related violence, vote buying, and other schemes are still being employed to ensure victories for traditional politicians,” Ridon added.
Ridon called on the youth to remain vigilant as the polls draw to a close and the canvassing begins. “We need to exert extra effort to detect fraud. We also need to look at the bigger picture – judging from how dirty and chaotic this election has become, the youth should not be fooled by its promise of change. We need to ready ourselves for an intensified fight for our democratic rights,” Ridon said.