Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao are just neighboring provinces in Mindanao. The said provinces were suspected to be the key areas where most cheatings in the year 2004 Philippines presidential election occurred. Those 2 provinces are now again controversial. The reported cheatings in the recently-held 2007 general elections in the Philippines had been widely seen as systematic in the said provinces. The total population of voters in Lanao del Sur is said to around 400,000. Maguindanao has around 200, 0000 voters. But the said figures coming from a pro-administration organization may have been bloated. For one, those provinces have serious-insurgency-related problems that can hinder the voters in exercising their right to suffrage. The local insurgents in those areas are known to be as anti-elections’ advocates. So, the numbers of actual voters in those said provinces are much, much lower than the mentioned figures. And many voters in those provinces usually don’t vote for the national positions. The majority of voters there only vote for their local government officials. They usually leave the list for national candidates as blank. And it can’t be denied that feudal warlords still dominate the local politics of such said provinces. Wielding gold, guns and goons, the semi-feudal warlords in those areas can easily threaten the registered voters there. The Team Unity brags about the “fact” that Maguindanao can deliver a 12-0 victory for them during the campaign-period before the May 14 Elections. The statistical probability of such a victory in the whole province of Maguindanao is below 47 percent. The reason is that Maguindanao has a serious insurgency problem that reflects anti-government sentiments among many of the province’s folks. It is improbable and impossible for any national political party to get a straight ticket to victory in a province that has a serious insurgency problem. So, how come Team Unity was able to get a 12-0 win in the whole province of Maguindanao? That is magic! With the given political conditions, as mentioned in the beginning of this article, in Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao, it would be easy for the “election-terrorists” to subvert the people’s will in those provinces. In other words, the election- cheating machineries in Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao had created wonders for the Team Unity Party.

The following was an article, dated May 16, 2007, from The Asia Foundation or known in the web as Asia Foundation. Org.:

In the Philippines: Elections in Mindanao
Philippines May 16, 2007
By Steven Rod

Steven Rood is The Asia Foundation’s Country Representative in the Philippines.
“On Monday, May 14th, Filipinos voted for 17,889 different government positions at different levels, none of which included the office of President. For more than 50 years, Mindanao has had a reputation within the Philippines as having the worst electoral processes in the country. The unresolved issues about the 2004 election revolve mostly around alleged cheating that took place in various places in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). The regional Governor in the ARMM was quoted on Election Day 2007 as saying that “what is important is we can rectify the negative impression that here in the ARMM, there is cheating.” And the “ulama” (religious leaders) have said that people must “rise against the sarcastic perception that the ARMM is the ‘cheating capital for elections.’”
Muslim citizen response this time around was quite vigorous. In early April, twelve Muslim organizations (ranging from region-wide coalitions like Citizens Coalition for ARMM Electoral Reforms and the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, to province-based organizations like MARADECA in Lanao del Sur and Electoral Reform Advocates in Tawi-Tawi) met with the Catholic-based Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV). PPCRV is the national organization accredited by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) as its “Citizen’s Arm,” but is naturally weakest in Muslim areas of the country. Thus, the agreement to work for “Clean, Honest, Accurate, Meaningful, Peaceful Elections” helped fill a gap in PPCRV’s coverage of all precincts throughout the country.
The Asia Foundation, with funding support from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), partnered with the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) to bring 21 Asian election observers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia to the ARMM. Partnering with local organizations, they spread out across the ARMM for eight days, interviewing candidates, local officials, COMELEC, police, military, citizens, and non-government organizations. On Election Day, they visited more than 500 precincts. One of the most valuable aspects of such a mission is the reactions of the observers to many things that Filipinos normally take for granted.
The comment that hit the headlines, by Somsri Hananuntasuk (Director of ANFREL) was that the situation was worse than Afghanistan. Perhaps influenced by the fact that a small bomb went off at a precinct she was visiting early in the day, and that she later encountered armed men hustling ballot boxes around accompanied by tanks and a Mayor she described as a “warlord,” her reaction succinctly summarized the feelings of many other observers.
A Malaysian observer who had extricated himself from between two groups of armed followers of competing politicians pointed to the fact that Malaysia has had 50 years of electoral politics without any political killings. He also laughingly said that Philippine elections were not “Free” – in fact they were quite expensive. Another Malaysian, mistaken for a local in Tawi-Tawi, indignantly watched as votes were bought (or at least paid for) quite openly. A Bangladeshi observer (who had also been near the early morning explosion) remarked that she had no idea how Filipinos chose for whom to vote, since no platforms or programs were on offer. And the Indonesians, noting the proliferation of campaign materials at voting stations on Election Day, proudly pointed to the practice in their country of using the day before the election to scrub the locality clean of posters.
Listening to this litany of woes, one is struck by the fact that none of the complaints uniquely characterizes the ARMM. As readers of this series know, we track the number of killings nationwide (currently at 130, with a month of tense “canvassing” [aggregating totals]) to go. In fact, the ARMM did not have a disproportionate number of killings in this election. As for programmatic content, the inclusion of actor and talented film producer Cesar Montano in the administration’s Team Unity senatorial slate had nothing to do with any detailed platform of government. Campaign materials are illegally placed or handed out in voting precincts all over the country. And throughout the country the secrecy of the ballot can be called into question as flimsy “ballot secrecy folders” (file folders that are supposed to block the view of prying eyes) are insufficient. As one observer not in Mindanao noted, “we saw voters curling their paper ballots in an attempt to prevent partisan poll watchers seeing their choices.”
What is unique to ARMM, and ought not be glossed over, is the fact that conflict among clans for political power regularly overwhelms the electoral system. The overwhelming majority of voters in areas with “failed elections” are in the ARMM. In one well-televised incident, the COMELEC and security forces were not able to overcome objections by an incumbent mayor to the distribution of election paraphernalia in his municipality – the protesters were led by his mother who sat on the pile of ballot boxes in the COMELEC office and so the people in that community did not get to cast a vote.
In fact, Asia Foundation research has shown that the main source of violent conflict in Muslim Mindanao is not separatism but clan feuds. This problem is worse in ARMM than anywhere else in the country, and political disputes are the main factors initiating conflict among clans. While elections throw this dynamic into sharp relief, such feuding is a constant reality and no amount of change in election procedures (no matter how much such reform might benefit Philippine democracy) will change that.
It is only when followers are able to exact accountability from their leaders for peace and development that this will change. How residents of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao might accomplish this is a difficult, though not impossible, question.”

But the people of ARMM should help in legally eradicating all the election-cheating machineries in such a region. That is one step forward towards progress.....

Monday, May 21, 2007



COMELEC Officials from the Garci Scandal

The COMELEC has resisted citizens’ demands for the investigation, or reassignment to less sensitive positions, of the election officials implicated in the Garci tapes. In fact, election official Rey Sumalipao, who had been implicated in the Garci tapes, was promoted to head COMELEC operations for the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), an area where massive fraud is said to be already taking place.

Security of Election Documents

The COMELEC failed to ensure the security of accountable forms such as Election Returns and Certificates of Canvass. Just before Election Day, ABS-CBN senior correspondent Ricky Carandang reported on what appeared to be “genuine” Election Returns that had all the proper security markings. The documents were said to be for sale. There are persistent reports from the media about “fake” ER’s.

Early on in the campaign, Kontra Daya already warned that the presence of private printers producing ER’s would compromise the security of these election documents. The situation with private printers operated by private employees leaves materials such as papers, plates and/or films vulnerable for illegal printing and the commission of wholesale fraud. In the face of such a warning, and in light of the ensuing theft of the forms, the COMELEC and the National Printing Office cannot claim they have secured said forms. In fact, the theft underscores COMELEC’s (willful or unintended) negligence and dereliction of duty over the security of vital election documents.

Implementation of RA 9369

In the issue of the non-implementation of crucial provisions of R.A. 9369, particularly Section 39 (projection of canvassing), the COMELEC merely pointed out its lack of funds. No other explanation was given and no other effort to fully implement the law was seen.

Partylist Issues

In the case of questionable party list groups, Kontra Daya issued a list of 22 groups it believes were either created by or had links with MalacaƱang and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Subsequently, a memorandum from the Office of the External Affairs (OEA), an office under the direct supervision of the Office of the President, surfaced. It revealed that one of OEA’s officials, who also happens to be a nominee of an administration-backed party list group, had requested funding from the Office of the President. The Supreme Court has also issued a decision for the COMELEC to release all the names of the nominees of party list groups that it had refused to divulge to the public.

Despite these developments, the Commission has not investigated or taken action against any of the party list groups and their nominees who clearly do not qualify as “marginalized groups” in accord with the spirit and the letter of the relevant constitutional provision on party lists. Inaction appears to be the standard response of the COMELEC to all demands for reforms and rectification.

The Role of the Military

The elections in 2007 are far, far worse than that of 2004 with regard to the AFP’s uncalled for and illegitimate involvement. The People’s International Observers Mission (PIOM), Task Force Poll Watch and Kontra Daya’s own election monitoring showed unacceptable patterns of intervention coming from military units and their officials. If in 2004 only some generals were involved in fraud (as revealed by the “Garci tapes”), in 2007 we can say that the entire chain of command was being used and manipulated for the purposes of fraud and violence.

The COMELEC has failed to stop the AFP from engaging in partisan political activities. Two of the most glaring examples are the AFP’s vilification campaign against militant party list groups and the AFP’s all-out support for administration bets and party list groups. The AFP in Metro Manila also attempted to clothe its smear campaign in the guise of a “voters’ education program,” a move immediately unmasked and opposed by various citizens’ groups.

There are persistent reports that high-ranking officials of the military are using the chain of command to force soldiers to vote for administration bets and party list groups. Fact-finding bodies like the PIOM noted that in Nueva Ecija, soldiers coerced people to vote for the Bantay partylist of Gen. Jovito Palparan. Media reports, on the other hand, also say that local absentee voting for soldiers were conducted under questionable conditions. Despite all these issues, the COMELEC has turned a blind eye to the blatant partisanship exhibited by the AFP and its officials.

Initial Conclusions

The 2007 elections are compromised by the COMELEC’s failure to ensure the credibility of the polls. At the least, it failed to dismantle the structural systems and conditions encouraging wholesale fraud. At most, it showed complicity with blatant acts of fraud and other violations of the Election Code. Even the traditional watchdog groups such as Namfrel and PPCRV, that are official citizens’ arms of the COMELEC, have carefully refrained from issuing statements absolving the COMELEC of election negligence, mismanagement or sabotage.

Kontra Daya raises these general statements on the 2007 elections:

1. There are initial indications that the Arroyo administration is engaged in large-scale electoral fraud in an attempt to secure favorable results for its candidates in the national elections (senatorial and party-list).

a. Throughout the campaign period and right up to Election Day, Malacanang led and directed a massive campaign of vote-buying for its candidates.

b. Malacanang has made partisan use of the military to campaign for administration candidates and against opposition groups especially the militant party lists.

c. In the ongoing period of counting and canvassing of votes, efforts to directly manipulate the election results in favor of Malacanang’s candidates and against the administration’s opponents (senatorial candidates and party-list groups) are underway.

2. COMELEC seems directly complicit with the Arroyo administration in perpetrating the ongoing electoral fraud.

a. At its highest level, the COMELEC issued statements, policies, and resolutions that were in accordance with the interests of Malacanang particularly in the Cayetano case, the Robredo disqualification, and the “Malacanang partylist” issue.

b. The COMELEC is suspected of laying the groundwork for electoral fraud which include among others the private printing of election forms, padded voters’ list, selective implementation of laws and the last-minute appointment of BEIs.

c. The COMELEC also aided and abetted fraud through its inaction on numerous blatant violations of election laws from the shameless vote-buying by administration officials to the blatant partisanship of the AFP.

d. The presence and promotion of election officers previously linked to fraud in Mindanao also shows complicity to commit fraud on the part of the COMELEC.

e. COMELEC chairman Abalos in particular makes it a point to rationalize if not cover up election-related anomalies which have come to light. He too is in a state of almost total denial when it comes to election fraud.

Two days after the elections, the Arroyo administration was quick to point out that an administration win at the local levels was a vote for “stability and progress”. COMELEC Chairman Benjamin Abalos also claimed that the elections were a “vindication” for the poll body.

Neither claim is generally accepted. The popular public sentiment right now is that the Arroyo administration is abetting election fraud and engaging in terror tactics in the provinces. Reports of vote-shaving and manipulation, bribery, military harassment and extrajudicial killings all cast serious doubt on the outcome of the elections.

The strong lead shown by the Opposition and militant partylist groups in the COMELEC count do not disprove fraud; rather it reveals a popular preference for them so strong it is overwhelming even the most proven fraud tactics during the canvass. The Opposition and the progressives are winning the count despite the cheating.

The following days will be crucial as the canvassing of votes continues and the possibility of wholesale fraud looms even more. Kontra Daya calls on the people to exercise heightened vigilance and to start sending a strong message to the COMELEC, the AFP and the Arroyo administration that electoral fraud in any form will be politically costly for this country_ the Philippines.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


It is election time once again here in the Philippines! I know that the Genuine Opposition is about to take the majority seats, that is both in the senate and congress, in the coming mid-year election. I just hope that such politicians who are about to become our law-makers will do their job properly. I’m also praying that the coming election here in the Philippines would be truly honest, credible and fair. The Comelec officials should work hand-in-hand with the senate and the congress in finding out ways to reform the political- election system here in the Philippines. The concerned sectoral groups here in our country should also participate in reforming the political-election system until all the basic institutions of Philippine democracy have been stabilized already………..

I’m also announcing to the whole world my intention to run for the Philippine presidential election in year 2010. That’s no joke! I will begin my "early" campaign for such a presidential election this year 2007. I’m going to run for such endeavor to campaign for real, global and moral democracy in this world. I’m going to start my presidential campaign right after the May 14 national election in the Philippines. Watch me do such a campaign in the coming days.

Saturday, May 05, 2007


The following are excerpts from a Wikipedia article about the ‘Hello GARCI Controversy’ that rocked our country recently. The controversy has not yet been resolved.

From the Wikipedia:


The scandal involves incumbent president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who allegedly rigged the 2004 national election in her favor. The official results of that election gave Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Noli de Castro the presidency and vice-presidency, respectively. Hundreds of national and local positions were also contested during this election. The scandal and crisis began in June 2005 when audio recordings of a phone call conversation between President Arroyo and then COMELEC Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano allegedly talking about the rigging of the 2004 national election results, were released to the public. This escalated, when the minority of the lower house of Congress attempted to impeach Arroyo. This was blocked by Arroyo's coalition in September 2005. No trial has taken place thus far.
Samuel Ong, a former deputy director of the country's National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), declared in a June 10 press conference that he possessed original recordings of a
wiretapped conversation between Arroyo and an official of the Commission on Elections, who was alleged to be Virgilio Garcillano. In the following weeks, the media analyzed contents of the tapes. The Ong recordings allegedly proved that Arroyo rigged the 2004 national election to maintain her presidency and the political success of her allies. Arroyo denied the accusations of election rigging in a television broadcast on June 27, but acknowledged that it was her voice on the tape. [3]Protests occurred frequently during the crisis either in favor or against Arroyo and her administration. Attempts to impeach Arroyo failed on September 6.
During the scandal, various polls and surveys conducted by
Social Weather Stations, CNN/Time, and Pulse Asia measured public opinion regarding the allegations and other related issues.
According to a CNN/Time poll, 57.5 percent of the people surveyed said that Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should not finish her term.
[4]. A Pulse Asia survey released on Philippine news on July 12 showed that 57% of the people wanted incumbent president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to resign from office.
Social Weather Stations or SWS June 28-30, 2005 Metro Manila poll results yielded that 59% say GMA told the Comelec official to cheat and 84% support full airing of tapes. In the same survey, President Arroyo received a rather poor net trust rating of -31 while the COMELEC's net trust rating was -27. [5]
According to the SWS July 12-14, 2005 Metro Manila Poll: GMA should resign, say 62%; or else she should be impeached, say 85%. President Arroyo's net trust rating was still poor at -33. [6] Incidentally, President Arroyo's net trust rating has stayed low (negative) since then.

Ong recordings

Two recordings were presented to the public: the Ong recordings and the government endorsed version of the recordings. Uncut copies of the Ong recordings managed to become widespread. The first recordings to be released to the press were used in the Congressional inquiry on the crisis. The second set of recordings, described by the government as the original, was more easily accessible in the Philippines as the government did not restrict the media from airing it. However, the media aired both sets, focusing on the Ong recordings.
Shortly after the scandal broke,
Randy David, a nonpartisan columnist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, cited two excerpts from the Ong recording in an article. Sheila Coronel, of the Philippine Center of Investigative Journalism, was able to decipher some of the garbled parts of the tape, which allegedly implicated Arroyo in the scandal. David analyzed the tapes using ethnomethodology and came to the same conclusions as did Coronel. His analysis described one of the speakers as a female coming across as a person speaking to her subordinate. Later, Arroyo acknowledged that it was her voice on the recording. However, no trial took place regarding Arroyo's intentions with her conversations in the recordings. According to Philippine law, both recordings are part of the public domain and are freely distributable.
In his editorial on June 12, 2005 for the
Philippine Daily Inquirer [8], Randy David said,
"On the surface it does look like an innocent exchange. The key word here is "nagco-correspond"-a gloss that refers to the practice of fixing canvass results at, say, the provincial level so that they are not at variance with precinct election returns or statement of votes for municipalities. The other gloss is the question "Kumpleto?" This is not a harmless inquiry. Given the kind of response it elicits, it is an urgent demand to make sure the doctoring is done with care".
David described Arroyo's subordinate as a "man...not in the business of counting votes; he produces them."
Sheila Coronel, described not only electoral fraud, but also the involvement of the independent watchdog group Namfrel. In her analysis, Coronel alleged that corruption was clearly evident.
[9] She also commented on the garbled portions of the tape, which were digitally enhanced for clarity. [10]. Allegedly, Arroyo whispered "Yung dagdag, yung dagdag" ("The addition, the addition"), implying fraud and mentioned Namfrel's sympathy for her. In her blog, she said,
"The conversations, after all, provide damning proof that Garcillano was, in the words of a Comelec official, “the plotter for electoral fraud, the overall supervisor and commander in chief” of the manipulation of the count in favor of the administration. The recording points to systemic and institutional fraud perpetrated by the Comelec. Does this mean that the President, by confirming her phone calls to the commissioner, also provided, albeit indirectly, a virtual confirmation of the fraud?"

Other evidence

After the Ong allegations surfaced, many others also claimed to have evidence of cheating by the Arroyo administration; however some of those facing the additional allegations have not been given opportunity to provide solid evidence. Rashma Hali, an electoral official from Basilan, who can claims that Arroyo is related to a kidnapping operation. Michael Zuce claimed that he was present in an incident where Arroyo allegedly bribed officials from the Commission on Elections. Retired general Francisco Gudani claimed that he can prove military involvement in Arroyo's alleged acts of electoral fraud. Roberto Verzola, leader of the Philippine Greens and an IT expert, also claimed that Gloria Macapagal Arroyo cheated and the citizens' election watchdog, National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) was also involved. Jay Carizo, from the Institute for Popular Democracy, developed the election cheating indicators. Other sources claimed fraud in several other government positions, as well as the murder of political opponents by incumbents. There were also eyewitness claims as well. Loren Legarda-Leviste also claimed that she had evidence of being cheated by Noli de Castro also won the vice presidency, in 2004.

Accountability and legitimacy

The evidence carried with it great consequences. The Ong tape were neutrally authenticated by foreign companies Uniquest (Australia) and Voice Identification (United States). Also, Arroyo's spokesman, Ignacio Bunye, as well as the president herself, acknowledged that it was indeed Arroyo's voice. The protesting public insisted that the tapes and CDs proved electoral fraud, and that Arroyo cheated and rigged the 2004 elections. A sizable number of people wanted the results of the 2004 elections to be made invalid. The Supreme Court withheld judgment on the matter, refraining from actions toward invalidating the election. The administration said the Ong recordings were inadmissible in court, since the audio was taped without consent.
Initially, there were two possible outcomes for the government; Arroyo could have either resigned or be ousted through a constitutionally accepted process. These actions could only take place after addressing the current state of the faulty electoral system. The other outcome was for Arroyo to be cleared of any wrong doing. Neither outcome occurred, and hence no final course of action was taken to resolve Arroyo's legitimacy or to prevent electoral fraud. Those unrealized possible outcomes could have resolved definitely the legitimacy issue, and could have made Arroyo accountable for any wrongdoing. However, Philippine law and the country's flawed electoral rules complicate the
legitimacy and accountability problem. The law only mentions impeachment followed with a conviction as a possible way of removing certain serving legitimate government officials. The law however is unclear on how to prosecute and convict the sitting official if illegitimacy is the problem, due to allegations of vote rigging. Conrado de Quiros, a strong advocate of electoral reforms, argues that a special presidential election must be done in coinciding with midterm elections to resolve legitimacy. [2]
"It is not enough that the elections next year [2007 midterm elections] be turned into a referendum on Arroyo, it is imperative that the elections next year be turned into an occasion to vote for a real president."
"At the very least, a loud and universal call for special presidential elections next year will let it be known that we are serious about doing something about screwing the voters. No, more than that, about the deceitfulness and lying that are spreading everywhere in this country faster than karaoke. In the end, none of the safeguards against cheating will matter if there is no public vigilance against the threat and no outrage against the commission."
Whether the special presidential elections occurs or not, a significant number of incumbent politicians who are allied with administration and who were elected during the tainted
2004 elections may be deposed by voter backlash in the upcoming 2007 midterm elections, assuming the election to be free and fair. The electorate would use the upcoming election as a referendum on accountability and legitimacy for Arroyo and her political supporters. All of the seats of Arroyo's supporters in the House of Representatives, half of the Senate, and all local government positions are to be contested. De Quiros also describes this contest as a contest of "democracy vs. the cheaters". [3]

Electoral system

The Philippines, according to experts, has a reputation for having political issues based on patronage politics and personality politics. To some experts, what is unique about the crisis is that it addresses the greater issue of electoral fraud and an allegedly faulty election system that allows cheaters to win and get away with it. This is manifested in a humorous local saying that, "There are two types of people in elections. Those who win and those who get cheated out of office." Politically outspoken student groups mention that this is rather new for Philippine politics, and shows a gradual development of the voting public, the electorate.
According to pundits, the past 60 years of the Philippine history already has a reputation of electoral fraud, proven or otherwise. It is just that no one ever gets caught or punished. Analysts assert that the people have always been desensitized to their politicians cheating during elections. Accordingly, people generally doubt their leaders' mandates. The people are often suspicious of the winners, especially in close poll results, but do nothing. Constituents generally allow their leaders, assuming proven acts of cheating, to get away with it until the scandal erupted. Roberto Verzola supports punishing candidates guilty of fraud as the first step for electoral reforms. He said that, "the system can be slow or fast but there will still be cheating unless you punish the cheats."
[4] The reforms sought for the electoral system are still clouded with uncertainty._______________WIKIPEDIA

The Filipino people, through the various sectors of the Philippine society, must truly ensure that the coming political election will be the true expression of the general will of the Filipino nation. The Philippines should have electoral reforms in and upon its own political system. The democratic institutions in the Philippines have to be revitalized. And the Philippine Comelec should do something…………….