Foreign Observers in ComVal Wary Over Elections

May. 14, 2007

Monitors. Some of the foreign observers during a briefing on Sunday. ( photo by Barry Ohaylan)

By Cheryll D. Fiel

DAVAO CITY — International observers who are in the southern Philippines to monitor today’s elections said Sunday that a clean, peaceful and honest elections in the country remains a pipe dream.

Gill Boehringer, a professor of history and philosophy at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, who is one of the five foreign delegates of the International Observers Mission (IOM) assigned in Southern Mindanao, said he did not have any illusions that the elections will be any better today, that “people would be on their good behavior.”

“I guess I’m nave enough to think” that an honest election will take place today, Boehringer told reporters here Sunday. “My feeling is that much of the fraud, violence, intimidation and corruption have already happened,” he said.

He said the task of monitoring the election today will be difficult. His team will observe the conduct of elections in Compostela Valley province. Compostela Valley has been placed under Comelec control early last week following four incidents of killings related to the elections. A total of 1,400 troops have been deployed to the province, the biggest deployment of troops in the region.

Another team of the IOM will be in Lanao del Sur today, one of the areas identified where massive fraud took place during the 2004 elections.

For Shadi Gilani, a fellow delegate from Netherlands, she thinks it is important that the Philippine government knows the international community is watching. Other delegates are Alexander Miles Jones from Scotland who is also part of the Ibon Research and Database Center, Eun Joo Kim and Kyung Soon, a filmmaker from South Korea.

The IOM will also be joined by delegates from People’s Net (People’s Action Network Against Fraud and Violence), a watchdog in the Southern Mindanao region led by churchpeople, lawyers, members of the academe, civil libertarians, professionals, students and human-rights defenders.

Boehringer expressed concerns that not much was done to investigate the fraud in the 2004 elections. He noted that Filipino leaders had acknowledged that the methods for the cheating in that elections remain intact.

“I think most of us came here because we believe in justice and we believe that people deserve democracy and in many countries around the world, they are losing it. And I think that we are not foolish enough to think that our contribution will be a major one. Yet, all of us together have a duty to speak out and to do what we can to carry on our struggle,” he said. (Cheryll D. Fiel/

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