The Most Outrageous Excuse by Comelec Yet

After many days of “delaying tactics” or “stalling” and ignoring the “memos for show”, the COMELEC finally thought of some stupid excuse which nobody would believe anyway. Here is the newspaper article which further explains this unbelievable and incredible excuse by Comelec…

Maguindanao poll supervisor: Namfrel volunteers got ERs
By Nash Maulana
Mindanao Bureau
Last updated 06:24pm (Mla time) 05/21/2007
COTABATO CITY — The Maguindanao provincial election supervisor insisted on Monday that the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) has gotten copies of the election returns (ERs), contrary to claims by the poll watchdog group that ERs had been withheld from their volunteers.

Father Eduardo Tanudtanud, chairman of Namfrel Maguindanao and Shariff Kabunsuan, said the “systematic withholding” of election results has “cast doubt on the integrity” of the tallied votes in the southern Philippine province.

But Maguindanao Provincial Election Supervisor Lintang Bedol, who figured in the infamous “Hello Garci” tapes, said based on reports he got from poll officers from the province’s towns, Namfrel volunteers had taken the 6th copy of the ER at the precinct level.

The “Hello Garci” tapes refer to wiretapped conversations allegedly between President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former elections commissioner Virgilio Garcillano over efforts to rig the 2004 polls.

Bedol said those who retrieved the ERs on behalf of the Namfrel were given the 6th copy because they presented Namfrel identification cards.

Bedol said members of the board of election inspectors relied on the IDs presented.

“[Namfrel] has not provided us the list of its volunteers despite persistent request, even prior to the elections,” Bedol said, adding that they had no way to double-check the identities of those who claimed the ERs.

However, Bedol’s statements contradict those of Romy Guiamel, chairman of the Citizens’ Action for Responsible Elections (Care), an affiliate of Namfrel and the Church-based Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV).

Guiamel admitted that Namfrel volunteers failed to secure the 6th copy of the election returns as earlier claimed by the Comelec-accredited watchdog.

But Guiamel blamed this on a lack of coordination between volunteers and the Comelec.

Guiamel said the failure of Namfrel volunteers to secure their ER copies happened not only in Maguindanao but all over the region as well.

But Guiamel said elections indeed took place in Maguindanao. He said residents of Maguindanao trooped to their polling precincts on Election Day and cast their votes.

“Many people trooped to their precincts to cast their votes. There were elections in Maguindanao and we knew it took place because we have volunteers in the province,” he said.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and concerned individuals told the Philippine Daily Inquirer, parent company of the INQUIRER.net, that balloting did not take place in many parts of the province.

The reports surfaced when results showed that a 12-0 sweep by Team Unity in Maguindanao, with Ilocos Sur Governor Luis Singson topping the list.

Reelectionist Governor Andal Ampatuan’s slate was unopposed in all but one Maguindanao town.

Norie Unas, Ampatuan’s spokesperson, explained that there was nothing unusual in the TU sweep as bloc voting on the call of a leader was acceptable political action for Muslims in Maguindanao.

Unas said that among Muslims, the decision of the leader was highly respected.

In this case, Unas said Ampatuan supported TU senatorial candidates after conducting shura or consultation with the people.

He said the choice was respected by the voters because Ampatuan was both the governor and spiritual leader of Maguindanaoans.

Guiamel said his group was able to monitor the conduct of elections in Maguindanao, which was generally peaceful, because it fielded volunteers all over the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

He said the fielding of the volunteers was in cooperation with Namfrel and PPCRV.

Advertisements

Foreign poll observers: We felt safer in Afghanistan

This is really so pathetic. It is a shame. This is where the major cheating will be made. There is no democracy in our country… it is “all-talk” and nothing sincere. The ARMM should have a separate voting where all eyes will be on them and quadruple the number of watchers and security.

Posted May 17, 2007 03:11:00(Mla Time)

Inquirer

Cynthia Balana
MANILA, Philippines — Despite the “fiesta” atmosphere during the May 14 elections, foreign observers who monitored the voting in Mindanao said Wednesday they worried constantly about possible violence and felt safer in Afghanistan.

They also reported incidents of intimidation, blatant vote-buying, candidates’ poll watchers dictating names to voters as they filled out their ballots and lack of voter respect for election institutions in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

In a statement, the team of 21 foreign observers from the Asian Network for Free Elections (Anfrel) said that while the government claimed the balloting was generally peaceful, it was not so in the ARMM.

It said the ARMM polling was “manipulated by outsiders” and that the culture of impunity for election and political crime may fuel calls for an alternative government that could provide justice for the people.

“The situation is not so comfortable especially if you have the military everywhere and also weapons everywhere,” said Somsri Hananontasuk, Anfrel director from Thailand.

Somsri, who said she saw confrontations between rival candidates and two bomb blasts, had also observed polls in 2004 and 2005 in Afghanistan.

She said she felt safer in Afghanistan than last Monday.

“Of course, we were also afraid of the underground Taliban … but at least we don’t have shooting… the threat from two sides when you go anywhere and the guns that sometimes are poised,” she added.

Hot in Mindanao

The observers from Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Thailand spent eight days in six ARMM provinces and visited more than 500 precincts.

Mohamad Yunus Lebai Ali, director of the National Institute for Electoral Integrity (NIEI) in Malaysia, said it was “a hot situation” in Mindanao, particularly in Tawi-Tawi and Sulu.

“We are not passing judgment. We came here more as a fact-finding mission to learn from each other and observe. We have universal criteria of elections,” he stressed, including whether the exercise was peaceful, free and fair.

Ali said the observers agreed that the atmosphere was not conducive to elections in the visited ARMM provinces.

No secrecy in voting

“I did not feel physically safe, what more the voters?” he said.

“It’s not to say the election was fair. We saw how protection took place, many cases of vote manipulation. It’s very hard to say there was no cheating up to election day,” he said.

Ali said that being free meant the voting must be done confidentially, which was not the case in the precincts the observers visited.

“We observed a lot of coaching inside precincts where people were being commanded to write the names and I myself observed flying voters in truck loads with 20-25 of them coming to precincts,” he stressed.

Women participation

Somsri noted the deployment of military personnel outside the voting centers in schools.

But she also noted some positive things, such as more women participation in all aspects of the electoral processes, the festive mood in most polling precincts despite the long lines of voters and the vigilance of civil society.

“It is a fiesta of democracy and I take it as celebration of democracy,” she said.

Amim Shah Bin Iskandor of Malaysia said he talked to some people who even tried to sell their votes, something he had never experienced in his country.

“To me, it is very cheap, just P20. This incident happened one day before the election. They’re not afraid and they showed money, they got it,” Iskandor said.

The observers blamed the “clan system” for the continuing political dynasties in the Philippines and said this was not good for the Philippines and other Asian countries.

Use symbols for candidates

Rashid Rashad of Sri Lanka’s People’s Action for Fair and Free Elections compared the Philippines’ antiquated voting process with the more advanced card system used in Sri Lanka’s elections.

“The people are not educated, the ballots are very big. Why don’t you introduce a card system where people just have to choose symbols (for candidates) to make it more simple for voters? The long paper is discouraging voters,” she said.

Proposals for reform

The team proposed several electoral reforms:

• Election offenses must be addressed swiftly.

• The law on campaign finance should be enforced. Overspending must be discouraged, and the source of funding should be clear.

• Cut down the cost of campaigning and enhance accountability and representation by having senators elected by region rather than nationwide.

• The anti-dynasty provision of the Constitution should be implemented to limit the number of politicians from the same family or political clan.

• The Commission on Elections must be more professional and those who misuse their power should be disqualified.

• The local election should be separated from the national to make the process simpler and more transparent.

• The law on modernization should be implemented in coming elections. With reports from Cathy Yamsuan and Associated Press

It’s about time someone officially complained!!!

Sen. Panfilo Lacson did an honorable act which honorable men should do.

He filed a complaint against Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez regarding the Justice Secretary’s recent controversial “incentives” for the province of Iloilo to give a 12-0 victory for the administration candidates. In short, what Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez did was simply “vote-buying” in any which way you look at it.

Criminal raps, disbarment sought vs DOJ chief

Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez now faces criminal charges and a disbarment case over his recent statements about cash rewards for village chiefs and the death of US Peace Corps volunteer Julia Campbell.

Stressing public office is a public trust, opposition Sen. Panfilo Lacson filed Monday graft charges against Gonzalez for the alleged P10,000 offer to village chiefs in Iloilo in exchange for 12-0 votes for administration senatorial bets.

Lawyer Ely Pamatong, meanwhile, lodged a disbarment complaint against Gonzalez before the Supreme Court over the justice chief’s “immoral statements” that Campbell was partly to blame for her death.

Lacson said he is filing the case as his civic duty to stop Gonzalez from “blatantly and arrogantly” violating the law.

“I’m filing this not as a senator but as a citizen. If we allow high officials to violate the law with impunity we are equally guilty. The Bible says that for evil to triumph, it takes just a few good men to do nothing. We’ve been a shame to other nations because our own officials violate the law,” he said in Filipino.

Lacson said he might file similar charges against other candidates who had made similar promises in past weeks, but not during the campaign period.

“There’s time for that. Once we get evidence after the elections I might file charges against them. But right now I don’t want to be accused of playing politics,” he said.

He also challenged Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez to act swiftly and fairly on his complaint, after filing the case before her office.

“On a larger perspective, said offer of Secretary Gonzalez will have a far-reaching effect as this will make the officials concerned and the public in general complacent and look the other way even in the face of massive cheating that will be committed just to ensure the victory of Team Unity candidates,” he said in his complaint.

He added it was clear that the promise of P10,000 was designed to influence barangay (village) officials to vote and to work doubly hard for a 12-0 vote in favor of Team Unity.

This, he said, was “an act which is tantamount to vote buying and punishable under the Omnibus Election Code.”

Worse, he said Gonzalez remained defiant and claimed he did nothing wrong, by claiming non-candidates are not prohibited from buying votes, and that the funds will come from his own pocket anyway.

“Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice and lead modest lives,” he said.

Lacson pointed out that Gonzalez’s acts constitute the crime of attempted corruption of public officials penalized under Article 212 in relation to Article 6 (Consummated, Frustrated and Attempted Felonies) of the Revised Penal Code.

The provision penalizes “any person who shall have made the offers or promises or given the gifts of presents.”

He added Gonzalez is liable for violating Section 3(a) of the Anti-Graft Law, which punishes “persuading, inducing or influencing another public officer to perform an act constituting a violation of rules and regulations.”

Meanwhile, Pamatong likened Gonzalez to a rampaging “elephant” with a loose tongue, dzBB radio said.

In seeking Gonzalez’s disbarment, Pamatong said the Supreme Court was the proper entity to punish the justice chief since the latter was the highest prosecutor in the government.

Gonzalez earlier said Campbell was a “little irresponsible” for walking alone at the mountain trail in Batad village at Banaue, Ifugao on April 8.

Campbell was bludgeoned to death by a 25-year-old woodcarver who claimed he mistook the American volunteer as his enemy in the same village. – GMANews.TV

Why run for a political position?

These people running for political positions from the lowest levels to the highest levels really act desperate.

They would spend millions upon millions of pesos to “market” or “advertise” themselves and they claim that they are using their own money to pay for these political ads. If they can spend tens of millions of pesos, what’s in it for them? What is their “return on investment” from spending all these millions? Do they plan to make much much more than they have “invested”? How can you make millions upon millions if the salary of these political figures are not in the millions upon millions of pesos?

If for example Pichay would spend Php100 million for his political campaigning, how does he plan to get it all back? Is being a Senator, Congressman, Governor, Mayor etc that lucrative that many families have made it their “family business”.

Some mayors even act like they have their own “Kingdom” wherein they are above the law.

Is this “pork barrel” the ultimate prize in running? Of course not, that is just the appetizer! There is much more to gain!

Well, just seems so funny that these guys would do “whatever it takes” to win… there is  so much money is at stake for them!

They are doing it for themselves and not for the people. That is why the Philippines is getting poorer and poorer while our politicians are getting wealthier and wealthier.

Isn’t it supposed to be that when you join politics, you become poorer because you are sacrificing your lucrative carreer to be of service to the people? But apparently, the politicians become wealthier while being in politics.

The Philippines is this way because we allow it to be. We make our politicians very wealthy while we become very poor.

I agree with Manny Pacquiao

I agree with Manny Pacquiao when he openly-stated that nothing positively has happened in General Santos during the many decades reign of the Antonino family. Nothing positive for General Santos but most likely the family business of politics of the Antonino family was positive. Obviously, the Antonino family is another Political Dynasty that needs to be broken.

One thing I do not agree with is that it will be Manny Pacquiao who will replace Antonino. It would have been better if a lawyer would run…but as we all know, this is a popularity contest.

If ever Manny Pacquiao would win (which is already almost sure), I just hope that he will not create a Pacquiao Political Dynasty in the area.

Good luck to you Mr. Manny Pacquiao, … never forget your roots and do not make politics corrupt your mind, heart and body.

Julia Campbell: May you rest in peace

Do not bite the hand that feeds you. Moreso, do not kill the hand that feeds you.

Julia Campbell was a God-send in the eyes of the people who knew her. It is almost impossible to fathom that someone could kill an angel to the community.

Julia Campbell went out of her way to help the poor, helpless, and un-educated. She was in the Philippines for the Filipino people.

How can anyone have murdered her? What was the motive? Is it simply a robbery?

Did poverty drive someone to commit murder? Did poverty turn a human being into a devil to kill an angel?

Whatever it is—this is the real situation in the Philippines, there are many out there who suffer while our politicians ride in their fancy cars and bully their way through traffic as if there is no tomorrow while laughing their way to the bank.

The political dynasties that have become “family businesses” should be stopped right now.

Julia Campbell is a hero and her death should not go unpunished.

Absentee Voting System: Full of Flaws

The Absentee Voting System is riddled with flaws. Is there a way for the “Independent” Poll-watchers like NAMFREL or VforCE (Volunteers for Clean Elections) to count or safe-guard these ballots?

With so many things getting lost in the Philippine Postal System it may be a way for the “Politically desperate” to cheat. Even our International Express Mail System has no tracking capabilities as seen here from their website and so how will anyone keep track of these thousands of ballots?

Pinoys can’t vote in Italy; embassy has no ballots yet

SOME 70,000 Filipino workers in Rome have not yet received ballots that were supposed to have been mailed to them, a labor group said yesterday.

Umangat spokesman Rowena Flores said the delay has kept many Filipino workers in Rome uninformed about who the senatorial candidates were and what party-list groups were up for election.

Flores said embassy officials could not say when the ballots would arrive in Italy, adding workers may ask for an extension in the deadline for absentee voting.

A Department of Foreign Affairs official said the Overseas Absentee Voting Secretariat was checking with the embassy in Rome and the Commission on Elections, but a spokesman, Claro Cristobal, said all ballots had already been sent to Filipino workers overseas worldwide.

The Comelec yesterday came under fire for the poor turnout for overseas absentee voting, which began Saturday.

So far, only 2,220 Filipinos abroad—out of half a million registered worldwide—have cast their ballots.

Senator Richard Gordon said the low turnout was due to a failure by the Comelec to conduct an aggressive information campaign to encourage migrant workers to cast their votes, despite P248 million in funding set aside for that purpose.

“They don’t have any excuse. They had enough funds and the time necessary to conduct a successful overseas absentee voting,” Gordon said in a radio interview. “The Comelec should explain how they spent the funds meant for absentee voting.”

Earlier, Comelec Commissioner Florentino Tuason Jr. said the usual “last-minute syndrome” might account for the low turnout.

He also said a new requirement under the law—that voters execute a sworn statement that they would return to the Philippines to take up permanent residence after three years—kept many migrant workers away.

Cristobal yesterday said reports from embassies and consulates abroad showed that only 896 voters showed up on Saturday, while 1,049 showed up on Sunday to cast their ballots. Some 275 mailed their ballots, he added.

The first voter was Nicanora Maglinis, 56, a native of Maasin, Southern Leyte, who works in Palau.

Records show that 504,110 Filipinos have registered for overseas absentee voting worldwide. The largest numbers are in Hong Kong, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Singapore. Of those, 142,634 are new registrants. Michael Caber and Roy Pelovello