Filipinos trooped to their polling precincts on May 14, each eager to elect 12 senators, one district representative, one partylist representative and local officials from the gubernatorial to the municipal councilor levels.
Kontra Daya, a citizens’ watchdog, blamed the Commission on Elections and the Arroyo administration for the chaos and disorder that marked Election Day, and over the fraudulent acts committed against the electorate.
In its Post-Election Report, Kontra Daya bewailed acts of bribery and vote-buying on Election Day, and the massive disenfranchisement of perhaps hundreds of thousands of voters. Entire families were mysteriously “delisted” from voters’ list and were deprived of their right to vote.
Kontra Daya likewise rejected the pathetic claims of the Philippine National Police that the elections were peaceful and orderly, as it pointed out that 143 violent incidents were recorded since Jan. 2007 or just before the start of the campaign period. Scores died on Election Day itself.
It is really pathetic for the PNP to make such claims. President Arroyo herself visited the Batangas public school razed down during the vote count. One teacher died in the incident. Elsewhere, pollwatchers were either abducted or killed. Yesterday, it was widely reported that the mayor of Bacarra, Ilocos Norte who won as reelectionist was killed in plain view of his constitutents as he attended a cultural program.
In scores of municipalities, canvassing is at a standstill because of allegations of vote-rigging. One such case is Binan in Laguna, and San Jose del Monte in Bulacan.
In fact, the gravity of the situation forced the Commission on Elections to postpone elections in more than a dozen towns in Lanao del Sur.
Looking back at the campaign, the public were treated to mere spectacles and expensive TV ad blitzes from candidates who offered nothing in the form of specific platforms on how to address fundamental national or sectoral problems. No effort was made by either Team Unity or the Genuine Opposition to present to the nation their respective solutions to the festering national crisis.
It appears that the elections, at least for the contenders, are nothing but beauty contests.
One consolation is the strong showing of GO in the senatorial elections, and in the polls for mayoralty positions in Manila, Pasay and Makati. GO candidates dominated the fray, and rabid pro-Arroyo supporters were swept aside as local executives.
In the case of Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, his surrogate candidate and son Ali, was handily beaten by incumbent Sen. Alfredo Lim. It is a slap on the face of Atienza who shed his democratic leanings and opted to play with President Arroyo in the maltreatment of protesters and the absolute ban on rallies in Mendiola. No more floral uniforms for City Hall employees for now on.
Mayor Peewee Trinidad of Pasay City was vindicated in the polls. He was dismissed on a trumped up charge, and was replaced by a lackey of the administration. A pro-administration last-term congresswoman attempted to beat him, but the people of Pasay sided with Trinidad and rejected the candidates of the administration. Both Allan Panaligan, who was crowned mayor after Trinidad’s dismissal, and Connie Dy were rejected en masse by an angry electorate.
In South Cotabato, Manny Pacquiao got clobbered by opposition stalwart Darlene Custodio. The battle was lopsided at the start, with Pacquio gaining an upper hand because of his national and international popularity. The administration, of course, backed Pacquiao; It was the administration which egged him on to run in the first place. But on Election Day, they raised Custodio’s hands in victory. Pacquiao did not know what hit him.
It is also disappointing that the partylist elections continue to be marginalized and underrepresented in media reportage and in canvassing reports. It took media outlets nearly a week before they released updates on the partylist tallies, unwittingly giving dark forces time to manipulate figures and insert them in both official and unofficial canvasses.
Task Force Poll Watch have reported considerable vote-padding in favor of pro-administration partylists.
Kasangga, which is bannered by a sister of the First Gentleman, reportedly received “extra” votes in Caloocan City. Kasangga and other pro-Arroyo parties also received thousands of “extra” votes in Cagayan.
The practice is so stupid and brainless. Such fraudulent acts abnormally and illegally increases the total partylist votes and thus raises the threshold for the minimum number of votes commensurate to two percent to enable a party to obtain seats in Congress.
Genuine partylists like those representing the differently-abled, the elderly, youth and other such sectors will have a harder time winning in view of such vote-padding practices.
Every citizen has a right to vote, and to pass judgment on how the State respected and upheld such rights. For me, the State miserably failed the people.