Philippines: Group denounces pre-election harassment

May. 11, 2007

MANILA — We are all aware of the many high profile incidents of election related violence and harassment. Since November, our electoral watch dog partner, COMPACT, has been compiling information to date, over 100 killed, about as many injured. All this violence perpetrated with the intent to either grab power or retain it by politicians that wish only to “serve the people”.

Amidst all this bloodletting, there are also cases of much publicized, needless harassment. Two cases in point the preventive suspension order on Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, and the citizenship case against Mayor Jesse Robredo of Naga City. Both men are running for re-election and are leading their races, hence the need of their opponents to keep them off balance.

The most celebrated has been the aggravation foisted on senatorial candidate Alan Peter Cayetano through several cases. The worst of these are the inclusion of a “namesake” and the questioning of Alan’s citizenship. Although Comelec has already proven Alan to be a Filipino citizen qualified to run for the senate, the body has yet to issue a decision on Alan’s petition to declare Jojo Cayetano a nuisance candidate. With only the weekend left before we troop to the polls, a last minute ruling may not help Alan get his votes counted properly. We all hope that voters write “Alan” on their ballots to make sure the BEI know which Cayetano to credit.

While we’re at it, make sure to write “Noynoy” on your ballot if you vote for Noynoy Aquino. Not all the teachers may have gotten wind of the decision to credit all votes to Noynoy if you write “Aquino”.

Here are a few more cases that reek of harassment:

* In Bukidnon’s 1st District, Malou Acosta is running against the infamous Garci. Late last week, the BEI were suddenly re-shuffled, causing Acosta to question the move because of reports that the newly replaced BEI were made up of locally known “Garci protges”.

* Just today, Comelec has denied appointment to hundreds of school teachers Taguig-Pateros. Reports of the same actions have been reported in Manila and Quezon City. This is the bailiwick of Alan Peter, and his wife, Lani, is running to take his congressional seat.

* Lastly, we received a report that in the usually quiet town of Binan, Laguna, Vice Mayor Len Naguiat’s campaign supporters (she is running for mayor, NPC Opposition) are being harassed by the local police as well as CIDG. The cops have been conducting raids on the homes Naguiat’s team leaders, ostensibly to look for illegal weapons, always coming away empty handed. Naguiat was told the orders came “from above”. Naguiat’s opponent happens to be Cooki Yatco, son in law of Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos.

What gives? Have you noticed a trend here? The Black & White Movement condemns the iron fists being pounded on candidates of the opposition. We can only surmise that these efforts to derail the candidacies of good men and women are being perpetrated by people concerned only with their political survival, the country be damned.

On May 14, Election Day, make the wise choice vote for the candidates you believe will bring back respectability to our institutions, and honesty to governance. — END

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