DAVAO CITY, Philippines — The partylist group Suara Bangsamoro said Sunday the latest bombing in Cotababto City could have been staged to draw the people’s attention away from the allegedly massive cheating and electoral fraud in Maguindanao and other areas in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
“They’re not only into cheating and killing — now they’re resorting to acts of terrorism just to divert the people’s attention away from electoral fraud in Lanao and Maguindanao,” said Zaynab Ampatuan, Suara’s first nominee and national chairperson, refuting the police’s earlier claim that the bombing had nothing to do with Monday’s election.
A five-year-old boy, Adrian Pangao, was killed on the spot and several persons were wounded when a bomb exploded Friday morning inside the Weena bus terminal in Cotabato City.
“It is condemnable that innocent lives are sacrificed in this violent and fraudulent election,” Ampatuan said.
She said reports of vote buying, vote padding and shaving, a marked presence of armed groups, including the military were common in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) where massive electoral fraud has been reported since 2004.
The cases of fraud and violence, which the group People’s Action Network against Electoral Fraud and Violence (People’s Net) started monitoring even before the elections, are expected to increase and intensify toward the end of the canvassing period as candidates grow more desperate to grab power.
Frankie del Rosario, co-convenor of People’s Net, said the group has documented cases of electoral fraud on the day of the elections but they expect more violence to happen up to the proclamation dates. Among the violations that the group has monitored include the distribution of official ballots and voters information sheets allegedly done by the group of Rep. Prospero Nograles of Davao City.
Del Rosario said Nograles’ camp put up tents bearing their names and distributed official ballots and voters information sheets to voters, a violation of Comelec rules. “Only the Commission on Elections are allowed to distribute official ballots and voters information sheet,” del Rosario said, adding that his group captured the violations on video.
His group also found out that the list of candidates posted inside the cubicles at the Rizal Elementary school in Davao were not complete, with partylist groups Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Suara and Gabriela marked with asterisks, which could have caused confusion among the voters.
“Earlier, the Comelec promised to take out those asterisks,” he said. The asterisks were earlier used to mark partylist groups and senatorial candidates facing disqualification in Court. He said the asterisks were found not only in the Rizal Elementary School here but also in other schools in Davao city.
Del Rosario also expressed alarm over several incidents where names of the dead appeared on the voters’ list. This, he said, could be a sign of vote padding. Somebody else could have voted for each of the dead person on the list, boosting the number of votes for the candidate behind it, he said.
Earlier, the number of ballot boxes were found lacking in eight precincts at the Obalde Elementary School. Over a hundred unsigned ballots were also discovered in two precincts (precincts 2794-A and 2795-A) in tht school. “Unsigned ballots could mean that the ballots were faked,” del Rosario said. He said that the People’s Network has already submitted these cases to the Comelec. (Germelina Lacorte/davaotoday.com)2007 Elections