Lanao Sur Special Elections ‘Farcical and Extremely Vulnerable to Vote Manipulation’ – Kontra Daya

Posted May 30, 2007, 6:18 p.m.

Election watchdog Kontra Daya joined the Concerned Citizens and other groups in a protest rally, Wednesday, near the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) where the national canvassing is ongoing. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) canvassed votes from Sulu on the same day.

The group warned against rigging of votes from Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) in favor of Team Unity candidates. Kontra Daya spokesperson Fr. Joe Dizon said, “The Arroyo administration is set to use the highly questionable Certificates of Canvass (COCs) from Maguindanao to manipulate the results of the senatorial as well as party list race. It will be part of the last-ditch efforts of the Arroyo administration to cheat.”

Dizon said, “Comelec must not canvass the spurious COCs from Maguindanao.” He said that watchdog groups and media centers, pointed out the improbability of a so-called “12-0” or landslide TU victory in Maguindanao. Last week, several election returns (ERs) were presented wherein the entire Genuine Opposition slate allegedly failed to garner a single vote or were all given a score of zero (0).

Lanao del Sur

Meanwhile, Emmi de Jesus, Kontra Daya spokesperson for the Lanao Observer Mission, stated that the special elections held recently in Lanao del Sur were “farcical and extremely vulnerable to vote manipulation”.

De Jesus headed the 17-member mission that went to Lanao del Sur to observe the special elections.

De Jesus said, “Chaos was the order of the day. We witnessed first hand numerous violations of the new Election Code. Evidence of the Comelec’s gross inefficiency, incapacity and, worse, complicity in the cheating, were too rampant to ignore. The heated and often violent conflicts among local rival politicians provide the fertile ground for the crooked election officers, acting as a criminal syndicate, to engage in election fraud.”

De Jesus Added, “The Arroyo administration has failed miserably in bringing fair and free elections to Muslim Mindanao. Instead it is taking advantage of the anarchic situation there to serve its own partisan objectives, i.e. the incredible 12-0 sweep for Team Unity, or at the minimum, the vote padding for TU candidates in the 13th to 15th slots.”

De Jesus noted that most of the voters did not vote for national positions. “Alienation from the Manila government and national politics in general seems to be one reason behind this. Another is the Comelec’s utter lack of awareness campaign. It is so easy for the cheaters to fill out the tally sheets, the ERs and COCs themselves.”

Garci boys

De Jesus said that the Garci boys are now taking custody of the election returns (ERs). She cited Jubiel Surmieda and Renault Macarambon, members of the Comelec’s Special Action Group (SAG) tasked to oversee the conduct of special polls. She also noted that Jose Tolentino Jr., head of the SAG, was implicated in the multi-billion MegaPacific scam but was not charged.

Carandang, Alamar

Moreover, Kontra Daya condemned the death threats against ABS-CBN senior correspondent Ricky Carandang and DZMM reporter Noel Alamar. The two were able to cover the transfer of ERs from the provincial capitol to a hotel in Iligan City. Comelec official Rene Sarmiento said he ordered the transfer based on recommendation from the SAG. She said this could have been done by ‘operators of massive fraud.’(

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