Comelec ‘failed’ to ensure free, transparent elections, dislodged Anakpawis says

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Comelec ‘failed’ to ensure free, transparent elections, dislodged Anakpawis says

MANILA, Philippines — A militant party-list pressed the electorate to hold the Commission on Elections accountable for its alleged failure to guarantee “free and transparent” elections, from the campaign period up to the the counting of results.

In a press conference in Quezon City Thursday, Anakpawis nominee Cathy Estavillo said the poll body failed to ensure the “secrecy and sanctity” of the ballot when voters left theirs behind for delayed feeding after Vote-Counting Machines broke down in some precincts.

RELATED: 4th automated polls: 220% more VCMs malfunctioning than in 2016

“From the government attacks and red baiting against progressive candidates and activists, to the police electioneering on the very election day, to the ‘corrupted’ SD cards, mass breakdown of VCM’s, non-operating transparency, all these are contrary to the basic principles of free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections,” she said.

Instead of guaranteeing a poll that was “fast, accurate and reflective of the genuine of the people,” Estavillo said the Comelec administered elections that were “delayed, questionable” and “unreliable.”

“We challenge the Comelec to release all the data of the election results, down to the election returns on precinct level, for the people to know if their votes were actually counted by the deteriorating machines. Non-disclosure simply implies their malicious intentions against transparency and honest elections,” Estavillo said.

The Comelec has an election results website where users can check votes at clustered precincts. The tallies are based on election returns.

Congressional panel sets inquiry

The Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Automated Elections has already set a hearing into the technical hiccups that marred the midterm polls on June 4. 

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Thursday that he supports holding the hearing but said the results of the recent polls are credible. He said the hearing will help answer questions on how to improve the conduct of future elections.

“Nitong 2019, medyo nag-iba iba ng mga service provider. So magandang makita natin anong mabuti dun sa dati, mabuti sa ngayon at saka paano ba ‘yung bidding in 2022 presidential [elections]. Baka pwedeng i-consider ‘yung suggestion ko na manual ang botohan, transmission ng data ang automated,” he said at a media briefing.

(There have been changes in service provider in this year’s polls. So it would be nice to note what’s good about the previous one, what’s good about the current and the bidding for 2022 presidential elections. Maybe my suggestion to have the voting manual, and transmission of data automated would be considered.)

Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, a reelectionist in the midterm polls, called for a probe Wednesday. He lamented the glitches happened despite assurances from  the Commission on Elections of the machines’ dependability.

“This is already our fourth automated elections. Haven’t we learned lessons yet?” Pimentel asked in an interview over dzMM.

Other ‘irregularities’

Besides technical glitches encounterred in the May 13 elections, issues regarding the “pre-shading” of ballots and “red-tagging” of progressive party-lists hounded the polls, Anakpawis said.

Three of the party-list’s regional and provincial coordinators are currently in jail over charges filed by the police and military.

Meanwhile, Rafael Mariano, chairperson emeritus of Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and a former Agrarian Reform secretary, said that the administration used its resources to influence and “rig” the elections.

“We will be having a stamp pad Senate that will bow down to all of Duterte’s whims. In the Lower House, the partylist system that is supposed to represent marginalized sectors was hijacked by political clans and traditional politicians,” says Mariano.

The Party-List System Act, or Republic Act No. 7941, was signed into law in 1995 so that underrepresented community sectors or groups could gain at least 20% of the total seats in the House of Representatives.

“We demand transparency and accountability from the Comelec. Comelec is a willing and conscious accomplice to the widespread cheating,” he said.

RELATED: Comelec looks into viral video of alleged pre-shading of ballots

Anakpawis, which represents farmers, workers and the urban poor, will not be getting a seat in Congress for the first time since joining the party-list elections in 2004.

“The ones who benefitted the most from this poll rigging are landlords and bureaucrat-capitalists opposing Anakpawis’ legislations advocating genuine agrarian reform, higher wages and regular jobs for Filipinos,” adds Mariano.