Philippines: Anti-fraud group pooh-poohs military covenant on honest polls

Apr. 25, 2007

MANILA — The anti-fraud group Kontra Daya said it was skeptical of the covenant signing between poll watch groups and the Armed Forces of the Philippines National Capital Region Command, saying that this was a mere publicity stunt of the military.

The poll watchdog held an ecumenical service and candle lighting activity at the Plaza Roma in front of the Commission on Elections office in Intramuros, Manila. The group called on the public to remain vigilant as moves to undermine the credibility of the elections persist.

The AFP-initiated covenant is just a PR gimmick to try to make people forget that the military played a major role in facilitating massive electoral fraud in 2004. The military wants the people to think they are incapable of doing massive cheating for the elections. Of all the signatories in the covenant, it is the AFP which sticks out like a sore thumb. , said Kontra Daya convenor Fr. Joe Dizon.

While we don’t doubt the good intentions of the Parsih Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting and the other signatories to the covenant for honest and peaceful elections, we certainly feel a great unease over the pronouncements of the AFP. The AFP hasn’t even acknowledged and atoned for its involvement in the Garci fraud in 2004, Dizon said.

Kontra Daya has assailed the military for trying to influence the outcome of the elections my militarizing Metro Manila communities and intimidating anti-Arroyo groups. Several complaints have been lodged against the AFP before the Commission on Elections and the Commission on Human Rights.

What the AFP says in its covenant is different from what it is doing in reality. The harassment of voters continues. The intimidation of activists remain. How can there be honest and peaceful elections if the AFP is a party to the violence and harassment against voters. We have received reports that the
AFP is also conducting election operations in other cities in the provinces, Dizon said.

The covenant may be used to justify the militarization of the Metro. This is a dangerous and worrisome scenario we are looking at. The covenant may backfire on the other signatories and on the voters themselves. , Dizon warned.

Dizon said that the AFP’s plan to hold community forums next week can also be used as a platform to intensify the militarization of communities in the guise of campaigning for clean elections.

These forums are often used to vilify certain groups, and discourage people from joining street protests. Furthermore, the AFP does not have the moral ascendancy to lecture people on election fraud considering the role several generals played in the cheating in 2004, Dizon said.

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