Philippines: ‘Comelec must account for Mindanao’

May. 21, 2007

The Black & White Movement asks the Comelec – what gives in Mindanao? We are dismayed at the accounts coming out of provinces of Maguindanao, Shariff Kabunsuan, Sulu and Lanao del Sur. What is more appalling is the slowness with which Comelec is responding to the various crises affecting the region. It is a pity that the Comelec doesn’t seem to be doing anything to restore the people’s faith.

We listened in alarm as “Bai”, a teacher from Maguindanao, revealed on radio that there were, in fact, no elections held in that province, that children were used to cheat for administration backed candidates. We support Lente in its plan to file a formal complaint regarding these allegations but doubt that the Comelec will act with speed on the matter. Whose interest will be better served as long as Comelec drags its feet? The protection of a life is in jeopardy here. The longer it takes for “Bai” to testify on what she witnessed, the quicker it will be for evil forces to silence her.

There is a parallel story coming out of Indanan, Sulu a lawyer actually witnessed teachers filling out ballots in favor of Team Unity. Is this how low this administration is planning to go?

Also in Maguindanao, the local Comelec refuses to release election results, all in favor of Team Unity, to Namfrel. This is not surprising given that this particular Comelec office is under the command of Dir. Rey Sumalipao of “Hello, Garci?” notoriety. Why hesitate in producing the results if they are seemingly in favor of those who thirst most to retain power?

News of election related violence and a four day late start of canvassing in Shariff Kabunsuan and a failure of elections in several towns in Lanao del Sur are more than disturbing. If another “Hello, Garci?” character, Maguindanao election supervisor Lintang Bedol, is indeed appointed to head Shariff Kabunsuan’s Provincial Board of Canvassers (PBC), there will then be more room for distrust.

Let us not be sidetracked by stories of “trending” by Namfrel and other groups. These “quick” counts are not official counts. The official results will come from the Comelec, an institution that is in bad need of reform, lacking in accountability and transparency.

Despite being deluged with stories of electoral doom and gloom, we are heartened by small victories in other places. We salute the people of Pampanga as they place their trust in Among Ed Panlilio. The KO victory of Darlene Custodio over Manny Pacquiao and the defeat of Virgilio Garcillano prove that our people can make the right choices. How we wish that the Chairman and Commissioners of the Commission on Elections would do the same. — END

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