As Philippines election nears, more foreign observers flock to hotspots

May. 12, 2007

MANILA — In addition to COMELEC-endorsed foreign observers, an independent team of international observers from ten countries is preparing to document the conduct of the local elections from the ground starting May 14, taking off from areas and provinces hit by fraud and violence during the 2004 Presidential polls.

The team of twenty-five (25) foreign observers shall troop to thirteen critical poll hotspots in eight regions in the Philippines this weekend as part of the Peoples’ International Observers Mission (People’s IOM).

Aside from observing the general conduct of the elections, the Peoples’ IOM will be paying special attention to possible cases of massive fraud and violence against progressive party-list organizations critical of the Macapagal-Arroyo government. The Peoples’ IOM will also be monitoring the looming showdown between the administration and the opposition in the senatorial elections.

All set to go this weekend are foreign observers from Canada, USA, Japan, Myanmar, Korea, Malaysia, Australia, Norway, Belgium, Germany and Scotland. The delegation includes journalists and media correspondents, members of the academe, visual artists, students, civil libertarians, clergy, trade unionists, and officials of non-government organizations.

The Peoples’ IOM was convened by civic-minded and concerned Filipinos in cooperation with electoral watchdogs such as Kontra Daya, the PPCRV, Teachers’ Hotline of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers, and Lawyers’ Monitoring Groups .

The foreign observers will be accompanied by a documentation team comprised of independent audio-visual organizations, people’s organizations, and human rights watchdogs to the following critical hotspots and regions:

* Mindanao (Region XI and ARMM):

The Peoples IOM will visit provinces, such as Lanao del Sur, which were cited in the controversial ‘Oplan Mercury Rising’ disclosures and the wiretapped conversations between President Arroyo and former election commissioner-turned-congressional candidate Virgilio Garcillano where massive electoral fraud and vote-rigging took place in the 2004 Presidential elections.

* National Capital Region (NCR) :

Delegates will observe the elections in vote-rich and militarized urban poor communities in Tondo and Quezon City and Makati City where the camp of opposition figure Mayor Jejomar Binay’s camp is pitted against Arroyo allies.

* Central Luzon (Region III):

Targetted for close observation are Pres. Gloria Arroyo’s electoral bailiwicks in Pampanga, where her son is running for a second congressional term and where administration allies are pitted against a priest in three-cornered gubernatorial race and areas in Nueva Ecija, where human rights violations and election violence continue even after the province was put under COMELEC control.

* Southern Tagalog (Region IV) :

The delegation will conduct visits to heavily-militarized areas in Quezon Province, where human rights violations, political repression, and assassination attempts against local coordinators of progressive party list organizations such as Bayan Muna, Gabriela, and Anakpawis have been reported.

Also to be visited by the People’s IOM are heavily-militarized areas in the Bicol Region (Region V), Central Visayas (Region VII), Quezon Province, and Cebu, another of Pres. Arroyo’s bailiwicks in the South. ###

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