“They are wrong if they think that we will lose hope. More and more people will come to the streets again and call for the ouster of a puppet and fascist president.”
By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA — “We will not concede!”
These were the words that resounded in front of the national canvassing center at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City (PICC) as Makabayan senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares addressed the crowd on the afternoon of May 17 during the Black Friday protest dubbed as #LabanBayan against electoral fraud.
Colmenares said defeat is acceptable if there was a fair and honest election. However, this year’s election was rigged.
They described it as the “dirtiest election” in the past four automated elections held in the country since 2010.
Thousands have joined the protest in PICC to add their voice to those who refuse to accept the results and conduct of the elections. Senatorial candidates Erin Tanada and Leody De Guzman were also present in the protest.
They said the elections maybe over but the fight is not.
Duterte used tax payers’ money against the opposition
Colmenares slammed the Duterte administration’s use of the government resources to defeat the opposition.
Even before the campaign period started, there were already television advertisements and posters of candidates endorsed by President Duterte in many areas. He slammed the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) inaction on the millions of overspending in television ads of the candidates of Hugpong ng Pagbabago.
Red tagging against the Makabayan bloc was consistent. Members and leaders of party-list groups in provincial chapters were being killed if not, imprisoned due to trumped up charges. Opposition candidates were being implicated in a “matrix” to oust Duterte in a purported Red October plot, he said.
“The problem with President Duterte is that he vilifies and attacks the opposition using the presidential platform. How can the opposition survive if government resources are used against them?” he said.
But, he said, despite all the attacks, supporters did not waver in campaigning for the Makabayan party-list and senatorial candidate.
What inspires him more to continue the fight are the people that he met along the way telling him to continue the fight. He also commended the supporters who did not waver during the campaign despite the attacks.
“This is not just about us, this is about the right of the Filipino people to choose their leaders in society. That is why we must continue the fight because this is what the people are asking us to do,” he said.
‘Worst automated election ever’
Danilo Arao, convenor of Kontra Daya, said the problems in the conduct of the automated elections had worsened. He said the breakdown of vote counting machine this year surpassed the number of the machine breakdowns in 2010, 2013 and 2016. The voter registration verification machine’s pilot testing also caused trouble in the voting process than relief which only caused potential disenfranchisement of millions of the voting population.
He said per IT standards, the seven hours delay in the transmission of data to the transparency server would cost his job.
Despite the glaring flaws of this year’s automated system, the Comelec tried to downplay it and not address it.
Arao pointed out that one vote that is not counted should be a cause of concern. “It is our right. If our votes were not counted, we should be concerned,” he said.
Lawyer Aaron Pedrosa of Sanlakas also slammed Comelec for the recurring and worsening problems in the automated elections. He said their group will file a motion to suspend canvassing due to the unexplained seven-hour delay of transmitting data last May 13.
“This is not simple sourgraping. We know that if those senators would lead the country, there will be more human rights violations,” he said.
Makabayan party-lists win despite attacks
Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas said despite the attacks, the Makabayan bloc will still continue to represent the people in the next Congress.
“They did not win. We can still fight for the people in Congress,” she said.
There is only one reason why the government wants them out of Congress, to silence the people.
She said Makabayan has been consistent in serving as the voice of the people in Congress by opposing anti-people policies. They put forward bills that are for the benefit of the people such as the genuine agrarian reform bill, expanded maternity leave among others.
ACT Teachers’ Party Rep. France Castro said the campaign of zero votes of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte is also a failure because they still win a seat in the senate.
Meanwhile, Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Elago said the youth will not stop in fighting for the youth and people’s rights despite the possibility of losing their seat in Congress. She said, the (government) badly wants them out of the legislative because they have strongly opposed the killings, human rights violations, martial law in Mindanao, Tax Reform Acceleration and Inclusion Law, the amendments of Human Security Act and lowering age of criminal responsibility and charter change.
“We stand against these while hundreds of those in Congress remain silent. There is blood in your hands and you are complicit in this dirty elections,” Elago said.
Raoul Manuel of Youth Act Now Against Tyranny said that this is only the beginning of more protests in the coming days.
(DISCLOSURE: Danilo A. Arao, a convenor of Kontra Daya, is also the associate editor of Bulatlat.)