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More than 140 dead in “peaceful Philippine elections”

Categories: East Asia, Philippines, Elections, Governance, Human Rights, Politics

Philippine police is claiming the midterm polls were peaceful [1] since there were fewer deaths this year compared to the previous elections. But Kontra Daya [2], a citizen electoral watchdog, is challenging this verdict:

“Kontra Daya belies the claim of the Philippine National Police and the Commission on Elections (Comelec) that the elections were generally peaceful and orderly. Such an assessment seems oblivious to the fact that the police themselves have tallied at least 143 election-related killings, since January 2007, in the run up to the elections. We suspect there to be more. We expect that the trend of violence will continue well into the canvassing stage of the elections.”

Aside from election-related killings [3], there were many instances of abduction, ballot-snatching, ballot-switching, harassment of pollwatchers and burning of a school-building. For many Filipinos, these horrid crimes may be not surprising anymore but foreign observers were shocked by these incidents.

Ellen Tordesillas [4] links to an article which mentioned the remark made by a foreign observer about feeling more secure in Afghanistan than in southern Philippines. Inside PCIJ [5] has a transcript of the report of foreign observers. The article notes the following:

“The 27 observers of the People’s International Observers’ Mission stated that the significant number of disenfranchised voters, vote-buying, deadly election-related violence, direct intimidation of the armed forces, the suspicious absence and abandonment of duties of Comelec officials, and the overt coercion by candidates of powerful political clans ran contrary to the Palace’s statement that Filipino voters cast their ballot, free of coercion and according to their own will.”

James Jimenez [6], spokesman of the Commission on Elections, does not agree with the observation:

“Let me point out that the Commission is not in a state of denial. Far from it. We have acknowledged repeatedly that we’ve had problems with violence, except that we insist on putting the problem in the proper context: that the levels of violence we’ve experienced so far are lower than those in previous polls. This does not make violence any more acceptable to us, naturally. As we’ve always said, even one incident is one incident too many.”

Like a rolling store [7] blogs about the intervention of soldiers in the recent elections:

“One thing I noticed is that the military has been actively campaigning against militant partylist groups as confirmed by reports of incidents in Southern Luzon. This has not received too much media attention. In 2004, only a few generals were implicated in rigging the polls. Now, we are getting reports that the entire military is being mobilized to influence the outcome of the polls. Very disturbing indeed.”

Sumilang [8] writes about the alleged harassment of young pollwatchers by soldiers. Our thoughts are free [9] exposes how soldiers were told to campaign and vote for Administration bets. Himagsik Kayumanggi [10] theorizes on the political violence engulfing the country:

“The inertia of tyranny at first seemed impervious to humanitarian blandishment. (President) Arroyo may shed crocodile tears, but her cabal of generals and security advisers don’t care and seem addicted to the opium of violence.”

Our Times [11] and Bryanboy [12] are disappointed with the elections. But Teacher Rowie [13] remains an optimistic voters and in fact, “smells the winds of change.”

Pedestrian Observer [14] reacts to the statement of a Comelec official claiming vindication for the scandal-ridden 2004 and 2007 elections:

“Now what’s up with these people so eager to absolve and fish out their credibility out of the toilet early in the game truly makes you wonder why they issue such crap. It is as if they are more concerned in covering their tracks than doing their duty as overseer of a clean, orderly, honest and credible election.”

Postcard headlines [15] describes the election process in a province in southern Philippines:

“The highest bidder pays his/her way to victory. No one actually dares to contest such a result because that would mean challenging the local warlords, the military and the Comelec operators that are under their pockets.”

Rasheed’s World [16] critiques Philippine elections:

“If the results are always going to be so massively rigged to begin with, why even bother to hold elections to begin with? The pretence of a democratic exercise will be exposed for what it is: A sham that serves only to keep a dictatorial Arroyo and her political cronies in power. The Philippines deserves better.”

Carol P. Araullo [17] also made the same conclusion:

“The general picture emerging from the stories and the images that have so far dominated the tri-media and ordinary people’s accounts is that of a nightmarish elections and post-elections situation that has confirmed our worse fears. The farcical nature of the electoral process in this country has been laid bare, much worse than even our most dire predictions.”

The Guidon Blue Ballot [18] asks students of their views on the high number of election-related crimes in the country.