MANILA, July 5, July 2007—A Church-backed poll watchdog has run out of patience with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) over canvassing delays and failure to resolve alleged anomalies hounding the last elections.
In a statement far strong than the previous ones, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) said that last election was a classic picture of chaos and manifested many citizens failure to freely and properly exercise their right to suffrage.
PPCRV national chairperson Henrietta De Villa lamented the poll body’s inability to take drastic efforts to restore public trust.
She said Comelec failed to take effective measures to prevent the recurrence of the widely-perceived fraud that marred the 2004 elections.
“How can the Filipino people feel good about our elections when the gross mistakes of the past continuously rear their ugly heads in our electoral exercise which can only mean that no genuine effort is being made to regain the public trust?” she asked.
De Villa also noted the Comelec’s failure to assuage serious and legitimate concerns regarding fraud in Mindanao.
She singled out the controversial Maguindanao certificates of canvass that led to slow pace of the national canvassing process and give rise to allegations of cheating.
“Election forms that have been missing since the purported canvassing (municipal and provincial) that no poll watcher was allowed to witness suddenly have begun to appear without sufficient believable explanation as to their disappearance then, and appearance now,” she said.
Maguindanao province has delivered a 12-0 sweep for administration senatorial candidates. The PPCRV, the former Philippine ambassador to the Holy See said, is “appalled” at the intertwined events in Maguindanao.
She also expressed outrage over the “kid gloves” treatment being given to Maguindanao provincial election supervisor Atty. Lintang Bedol by the Comelec, saying that it’s a repeat of the “Hello Garci” controversy. The PPCRV criticized Bedol for his repeated defiance of summons from the National Board of Canvassers and the en banc Comelec resolutions, with the unexplained loss of poll documents in his custody.
“In an age of global media, scenes and images of Mr Bedol relaxingly skirting accusations of electoral fraud before the Commission en banc, appearing almost invincible with a gun tucked under his waist in a major daily constitute a flagrant mockery of the electoral values we hope our citizens, especially our young ones will practice and uphold,” said De Villa.
De Villa said the “flagrant flaunting” of anomalies constrains them to make public their discomfort and dismay “since we owe it to our volunteers to do so.”
The PPCRV appealed to the Comelec to take drastic corrective steps to solve the Maguindanao controversy and other pending election issues. “For the sake of the 439,693 volunteers of the PPCRV who risked lives and limbs to restore credibility to our elections, we call on the Comelec to please put a stop to this running travesty of the electoral process,” De Villa said.
The poll body assured the public of the proclamation of winning national candidates within two weeks after the polls.
Almost two months have passed since then, yet canvassing of the votes for senatorial candidates has not been fully completed with only 11 out 12 senatorial slots have been proclaimed.
No winning party-list group has also been proclaimed even if at least 15 groups got more than the required two percent vote to guarantee a seat at the House of Representatives. (Roy Lagarde)