MANILA — The International Observer Mission-Nueva Ecija team saw today how militarization in Barangay Yuson and Manggang Marikit, Guimba, Nueva Ecija has resulted in a new type of disenfranchisement of voters.
Rev. Larry Emery, spokesperson of the team said voters they interviewed in Barangay Yuson told the mission that they opted not to vote for any party list organization to “keep out of harm’s way.” Some even voted for retired Gen. Jovito Palparan’s Bantay party because they said that is what the military wanted.
But many also said they voted for the Anak Pawis party. Barangay Yuson is considered a stronghold of Anak Pawis, Bayan Muna and other progressive party list groups. There are 388 registered voters in three precincts in Barangay Yuson.
In Barangay Manggang Marikit, Maximo Daileg, a barangay official told the mission more than 100 people were summoned to the village hall by soldiers where they were interrogated and threatened. They were told not to support the Bayan Muna, Anak Pawis and Gabriela parties.
In this year’s election the barangay council agreed not to support Bayan Muna, Anak Pawis and Gabriela. Daileg told the mission they voted for the Bantay party against their will.
The barangays experienced severe militarization from 2005 to the present. The human rights violations intensified when Gen. Palparan was transferred to Central Luzon in September 2005.
Emery said that militarization has instilled so much fear among the village folks to the extent that they have kept silent and are even sacrificing their right of choice in the elections.
Tessa Gado, 55, told the mission that her son, John, was killed allegedly by soldiers inside their home in Barangay Yuson on July 4, 2006. Gado also told the mission that her son was a Bayan Muna poll watcher in the 2004 elections.
She said the military who were deployed in their village accused her son of being an NPA member. She told the mission that all the men in her village were punched or physically and verbally abused by the military and their fear of the military continues to this day.
The mission also talked with a former victim of torture who said that he voted for Bantay party because that was what the soldiers wanted. Retired Gen. Jovito Palparan is the first nominee of the Bantay party.
“Militarization and human rights violations have spawned a new type of disenfranchisement that is borne out of fear and terror,” Emery said.
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