Reports of how the AFP has been attacking and preventing the victory of progressive party-list groups abound. But the smoking gun that would prove these allegations was finally discovered: it was contained in the testimonies that the Mayuga report suppressed.
By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
At last there’s concrete and indisputable proof that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) directly engaged in sabotaging the chances of progressive party-list groups in the 2004 elections.
As they continue to go over the Mayuga Report, Bayan Muna Reps. Teddy Casiño and Neri Javier Colmenares discovered that the controversial military report on the 2004 elections also glossed over or covered up references to the military’s involvement in the campaign for party list group allied with former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and against progressive party list groups including Bayan Muna. The lawmakers said those mentioned in the report could face graft and electioneering charges.
“The name of a certain Col. Rey Ardo keeps cropping up and it appears that the same man went around Lanao and other areas in Mindanao during the 2004 Election,” said Colmenares.
Colmenares said Ardo’s name was mentioned by Gen. Hermogenes Esperon as having been given the task to go around the country to supposedly distribute primers of the Commission on Elections.
“Esperson was quoted saying this, but according to testimonies of officers, Esperon was actually asking them to make sure that the ANAD Party list wins. A Lt. Col. Elmer Logronio testified that Col. Ardo asked him to call for a meeting of mayors in Lanao. In the said meeting what was discussed was ensuring ANAD’s victory,” he said.
ANAD stands for the Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy which currently has one representative in congress, Rep. Jun Alcover. AFP supports, cheats for ANAD Party-List Colmenares explained that in the Mayuga Report’s section containing questions asked various witnesses, Questions 83, 84, 88 and 96 were on Col. Logronio’s testimony.
83. Question – Were there active officers who also went there not organic to SOUTHCOM (Southern Command) or Marine Brigade?
Answer – Si Col. Ardo, pero ang tsinecheck niya iyong stand ng Anad. (Col. Ardo, but he immediately checked on to status of Anad.
84. Question – Can you recall the date when you saw him?
Answer – Election period. Before election, May 8 or 9, nag present siya ng Anad and after election nandoon din siya. (Before the elections, May 8 or 9. He presented for Anad and after the elections he was also there.
88. Question – What specifically were the directives at that time?
Answer – Distribute ang leaflets and information sa Anad and to make sure na mananalo ang Anad. (Distribute leaflets and information on Anad and to make sure that Anad wins.)
96. Question – You were not informed that it was a political party?
Answer – Party list lang sir ang sinasabi. Ang pagkakaintindi ko may panlaban tayo sa mga party list na prine present nila halimbawa iyong Bayan Muna. (I was told it was a party-list. As I understood it, we were told that we have a party that would compete against party-list groups like Bayan Muna.)
These testimonies, Colmenares said, were deliberately neglected by the Mayuga Panel.
Admission of electoral fraud campaign
“The testimony of Lt. Col. Ronald Villanueva as revealed in his answers to Questions 37, 62-67, and 127 was more direct to the point. When asked if he considers as partisan political activity the request of Col. Ardo to help Anad , he answered ‘I will only reduce the influence of left leaning party list organizations by telling my personnel and asking the people who were seeking positions [candidates] how much he can contribute and if he can help Anad because it was given to me as additional assignment to help Anad,’” he said.
Colmenares also revealed that when Villanueva was asked how he responded to the mention of Anad party list as a battalion commander, Villanueva’s answer was more than a hint of the perpetuation of electoral fraud.
Villanueva answered that in Lanao Norte, they were only interested in the elections for the mayor and vice-mayor and that “they don’t even list down the councilors,” he said.
According to Colmenares, Villanueva also said they could directly go to the Comelec and tell them to assign Anad many votes. Most of the ballots also contained votes for the mayor and the governor.
“Villanueva also said that ‘most of these things were done when they were counting already,’ the lawmaker said.
“Telling Comelec to give votes to Anad and and to declare that the counting was done already are loaded statements. The Mayuga Commission should have given these direct attention. In fact, Admiral Mayuga should have also asked if Gen. Esperon gave Col. Ardo other tasks apart from making sure Anad wins.He should have told the man how much was spent ensuring Anad’s victory. Ardo was in many places during the election and it was reasonable to ask him about his participation in the AFP’s operations during the presidential election considering that he was sent by Gen. Esperon’s unit,” Colmenares pointed out.
Fraud as an official policy of Arroyo regime
Casiño, meanwhile exposed that AFP involvement in party-list electioneering was also found in official policy documents of the former Arroyo administration.
“The Mayuga report also contained official AFP documents such as Oplan Piniliay. These were the intelligence plans of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines expressly targeting Bayan Muna and other progressive party list groups during the election,” he said.
Casiño also said that in Annex 87 of the Mayuga Report are Anad documents attacking not only Bayan Muna but also former vice president Teofisto Guingona and now senators Francis Escudero and Alan Peter Cayetano.
Section. 79 of the Omnibus Election Code defines partisan political activity as “an act designed to promote the election or defeat of a particular candidate or candidates to a public office” and any officer who violates this may be removed from the AFP and criminally charged in court.
AFP officers ordering or even requesting AFP personnel to be involve in partisan political activity may be charged under Section 3 of Republic Act 3019 or the anti-graft law titled “Persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations xxx or an offense in connection with the official duties of the latter.”
Graft offenses are prescribed up to 15 years.
“In any case, the disinterest of Mayuga in investigating deeper into AFP personnel involved in campaigning for or against party list candidates again puts into question whether the Mayuga investigation was merely for show rather than a serious investigation into military involvement in electoral fraud and partisan political activity. It is up to all of us today to pursue the questions that Mayuga failed to ask in order to put a closure on a festering wound that is the ‘Hello, Garci-tape scandal. We will have to search who among these officers are still active in service today. If Congress will not investigate this issue, then we will be no different from the Mayuga Panel. ” Casiño said.