‘Credible Polls in N. Ecija Impossible’ – Foreign Observers

Bantay party

Take the case of a torture victim who asked not to be identified. He voted for the Bantay party because “that is what the military wanted,” he told the mission. Ret. Gen. Jovito Palparan, who is being blamed for the spate of extra-judicial executions since he was assigned to Central Luzon in Sepember 2005, is the first nominee of the Bantay party.

In Barangay Manggang Marikit, Maximo Daileg, a barangay official said more than 100 people were summoned to the village hall by soldiers where they were interrogated and received death threats. They were told not to support the Bayan Muna, Anak Pawis and Gabriela parties.

Military pressures forced the barangay council not to support Bayan Muna, Anak Pawis and Gabriela and, against their will, voted for Bantay.

“Militarization and human rights violations have spawned a new type of disenfranchisement that is borne out of fear and terror,” Emery said in a statement issued May 14. Barangays Yuson and Manggang Marikit are known to be strongholds of progressive party list groups.

The Josons

Six members of the Joson family are candidates in this year’s elections. Mariano “Boyet” Joson ran for governor while his nephew, Thomas Edward Joson, was his running mate for vice governor. Eduardo “Edno” Joson and Eduardo “Ding Liit” Joson ran for congress in the province’s first and third districts, respectively.

Thomas Joson III and Dale Joson ran for mayor in Cabanatuan City and Quezon town, respectively. The candidates for governor, mayor of Cabanatuan City and the two candidates for congress are brothers.

The candidate for vice governor is the son of the mayoral candidate in Cabanatuan City. Thomas Joson III, who has just finished his three-year term as governor. Josephine Joson, wife of Boyet Joson, is the incumbent congresswoman in the 1st district.

The dominance of the clan goes as far back in 1946 when the father of the Joson siblings, Eduardo, also known as “Tatang” served as mayor of Quezon town. In 1961 “Tatang” won the governorship and since then his sons assumed key positions in the province. The clan gradually tightened its grip on local politics that remain to this day.

The team noted in its report that the tight grip of the Josons in Nueva Ecija politics “made the conduct of free and honest elections difficult, if not impossible.”

Mission findings

The highlights of the mission findings included:

· The presence of military men and the police in the municipal canvassing area significantly affected the number of people who can watch the canvass of elections. The presence of barangay officials in all the precincts visited affected the voter’s free choice of candidates and parties;

· Harassment and intimidation of poll watchers compromised the accepted check and balance system established for the transparency and openness of the election process.

· Municipal Comelec officials failed to ensure that the rules and procedures to guard the sanctity of the ballot were followed. In many barangays visited, only poll watchers from the BALANE-Kampi party, the party of the Joson clan, were present.

The integrity of the tally of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) was compromised by the fact that most of its electoral returns were obtained from the municipal Comelec instead of the precinct level.

Protest

As the team was about to leave after lunch on May 16, members learned that the three mayoral candidates in Guimba who ran against the incumbent mayor Jose Francis Dizon had joined forces and would lead a protest at the town hall.

At 2 p.m., hundreds of people began massing up in front of the Guimba town hall. They climbed over walls and rushed through the gates to defy a barricade put up by soldiers and police.

Angel Santos, one of the mayoral candidates, told the team that they would file a petition for failure of elections because of massive poll irregularities that occurred to ensure the victory of Dizon. A press conference was held later in the afternoon by the protesting candidates who described the alleged poll anomalies and called on the people “to end dynastic rule” in the province.

The team left before dusk with the demonstration still in full swing. The team later learned that during the night, the army and the police tried to disperse the protesters.(Bulatlat.com)

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