Philippine elections have always been tainted with fraud, marred by violence, dominated by political dynasties, and characterized by broken promises of politicians. It has never resulted in the betterment of the lives of majority of the Filipino people. But the way things are shaping up, this may be the worst elections yet.
BY BENJIE OLIVEROS
Two months to go and the May 2007 elections is already taking on a distinct character. First, this appears to be heading toward the most lopsided senatorial elections in Philippine history, with the administration ticket apparently on the losing end. Surveys and mock elections consistently show the Genuine Opposition (GO) winning majority of the seats. Worth noting also is that the winning candidates from Team Unity are those who have taken a critical position with regard to the policies of the administration such as Joker Arroyo and Ralph Recto, and one who used to be identified with the opposition, Tito Sotto.
Second, political feuds are fast heating up even before the start of the campaign period for the local elections. As early as December 16, 2006 Abra Rep. Luis Bersamin, Jr. was killed. And the feuds are not only between candidates affiliated with the administration versus those in the opposition, but also within the ruling coalition, Lakas-CMD versus Kampi, the party of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and within Lakas as well.
Local politics, of course, have always been ruled by guns, goons, and gold, and are therefore violent. Likewise, it is not national politics which dictate on local politics; on the contrary, the fate of politicians running for national posts depends on who is being supported by the dominant clans in the provinces and municipalities.
But gauging by what is at stake in the 2007 mid-term elections – the fate of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration – this coming May portends to be a more hotly-contested and therefore bloody elections.
Third, the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) has made some motions of being vigilant. It has been strict in regulating billboards and posters, and banned the use of campaign T-shirts bearing candidates’ names. While campaign posters pasted everywhere may not be pleasing to the eyes, posters and T-shirts are the only means poorer candidates and parties can project themselves. It is only the moneyed political clans who can afford regular television and radio plugs.
More serious violations
The poll body seems to be turning a blind eye, however, on more serious violations of the election code. COMELEC Chairperson Benjamin Abalos merely laughed when shown a video of Chavit Singson giving out money. He promised to conduct an investigation a day after it was shown the video. But far worse is that it doesn’t lift a finger on the obvious attacks of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on progressive party-list groups especially Bayan Muna (People First), Anakpawis (Toiling Masses), Gabriela Women’s Party, and Kabataan. By doing so, the AFP seriously violates the law by engaging in partisan politics and by terrorizing voters.
Never has been a party so vilified and attacked as what is happening now to progressive party-list groups. Its experience is comparable only to that of the Democratic Alliance (DA) of the late 1940s and the Partido ng Bayan (PnB or People’s Party) during the 1987 elections. The winning candidates of the DA were prevented from taking their seats in the first Congress until after the Parity Amendment, which grants equal rights to American businessmen as Filipinos, was passed. They were accused of being affiliated with the Huks (short for people’s army) and of terrorizing communities into voting for them. Members of PnB were also targeted and its candidates were victims of the worst form of vote shaving then. One incredible case is that of a PnB senatorial candidate who received no votes in his own hometown.
Bayan Muna (BM), Anakpawis (AP), Gabriela Women’s Party (GWP), Kabataan (formerly Anak ng Bayan), and Suara Bangsa Moro are the subject of a persecution campaign of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration. BM, which topped the party-list elections in 2001 and 2004, has the most number of victims of extrajudicial executions – more than 120. Together with AP and GWP, BM is the subject of a disqualification case with the COMELEC on the trumped up charge of ordering the killing of two persons and the use of funds for the New People’s Army (NPA). Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran is languishing in jail for rebellion since February last year. Warrants of arrest were likewise issued against BM Reps. Satur Ocampo, Teodoro Casiño, and Joel Virador, Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, and GWP Rep. Liza Maza in 2006. But they were able to elude arrest and the warrants were rescinded. Another warrant of arrest was recently issued by a judge in Leyte against Ocampo for allegedly ordering the killing of persons in a purge that allegedly happened in 1984. This charge was even made more ridiculous by the fact that Ocampo was in detention at that time.
There were reports that AFP troops in the provinces were listing down all those who voted for the progressive party-list bloc, making them “surrender,” and warning them from joining these groups. Despite repeated denials from the AFP, soldiers were recently caught in a video actively campaigning against these party-list groups in the National Capital Region (NCR or Metro Manila).
With signs of the electorate’s preference for the opposition and the progressive party-list groups at a time when the survival of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration depends a lot on the outcome of the midterm elections; the hotly-contested local elections which has a history of violence; the predisposition of COMELEC, which still has to gain the public trust after the “Hello, Garci” scandal during the 2004 elections; and the continuing systematic attacks on progressive party-list groups, the May 2007 midterm elections is shaping up to be the most controversial and violent in Philippine history.
Philippine elections have always been tainted with fraud, marred by violence, dominated by political dynasties, and characterized by broken promises of politicians. It has never resulted in the betterment of the lives of majority of the Filipino people. But the way things are shaping up, this may be the worst elections yet.(Bulatlat.com)