By Aries Rufo, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak
‘Unfair, preposterous,’ says NP spokesman
MANILA, Philippines – Going by her record, outgoing President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is expected to cheat in the May 10 elections, a poll watchdog warned, as it urged the public to exercise greater vigilance in ensuring clean and honest elections.
Convenors of Kontra Daya 2010, composed of the clergy, teachers, information technology (IT) professionals, students and activists, said “signs” point to massive cheating or failure of elections.
It also slammed the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for failing to temper public fears and suspicion about poll fraud.
“We have seen it in 2004 and in 2007. The Arroyo government has every motive to rig the elections so it can stay in power. The single biggest fear now is the possibility of a failure of elections which will surely benefit the administration,” former Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) President retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz said.
Cruz is one of the convenors of Kontra Daya.
GMA to cheat for Villar?
As a group, Kontra Daya stopped short of identifying who among the presidential candidates would benefit from the alleged electoral fraud, but some members broadly hinted it may be Senator Manuel Villar Jr.
Sr. Mary John Mananzan, head of the militant Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines, said Mrs. Arroyo cannot possibly cheat for administration bet former Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. since he is among the cellar dwellers in the presidential surveys.
Mananzan added that Arroyo would not also cheat for Liberal Party standard-bearer Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., who has vowed to pursue graft charges against the outgoing president. “So, using the process of elimination, who do you think would benefit?” Mananzan asked
The latest presidential survey showed a tight race between Aquino and Villar. Villar has recently caught up with Aquino’s meteoric rise in the public mind following his beloved mother’s death from cancer in August 2009. (Read: Aquino, Villar tied in Pulse Asia survey)
Cruz said there is “reasonable” basis to presume that Arroyo’s real candidate is either Villar or even former President Estrada. “Villar owes her a lot. Estrada also owes her a lot,” the prelate observed. “She will support the one who will be lenient to her.”
The Liberal Party (LP) has ridden on rumors about a “secret partnership” between Arroyo and Villar for the May 10 polls. It has openly accused Villar of entering into an alliance with Arroyo to promote vested interests.
NP: ‘Unfair, preposterous’
Asked for comment, Nacionalista Party (NP) spokesman Gilbert Remulla said these perceptions are “unfair, to say the least, preposterous even.”
“When and how did being politically independent become a liability for us? These assumptions make anybody who is not rabidly anti-GMA, pro-GMA in their eyes,” he said in an interview plus text message sent to abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak.
“Senator Villar has always maintained his independence and has never needed any favor from the GMA administration. This election will be no different,” Remulla said
The NP also previously pointed out that its senatorial ticket includes leaders of the radical left and a detained military rebel. The organizations and movements they represent have consistently been against the Arroyo government.
Comelec performance monitored
In its formal launch on Wednesday, Kontra Daya said it would monitor not only cheating but also the use of government resources for partisan purposes, electoral violence, and the Comelec’s performance, especially how it is implementing the automation project.
Kontra Daya convenors said the Comelec has rightly or wrongly earned the reputation of being the government’s cheating machinery.
They observed that Comelec, despite continuing apprehensions over whether it could pull off the automation project, has allegedly not done anything to inspire public confidence in poll automation.
“We could not just rely on what the Comelec says. They have to show that their automation can ensure the integrity of the polls, But so far, their field tests and mock polls have only further stoked our fears,” Fr. Joe Dizon of Solidarity Philippines said. Dizon is one of the convenors of Kontra Daya.
‘Brace for civil disobedience’
Schedules of the poll automation project have been moved and revised many times, heightening suspicions that Comelec and winning machine supplier Smartmatic-Total Information Management are ill-prepared to implement it.
Issues like source code review, the integrity of the machines, and the reliability of the transmitted results have also been hounding the automation project.
Other convenors said the public should brace itself for civil disobedience in case of massive failure of elections or cheating that will frustrate the will of the people.
Cruz said he finds it alarming that a foreign company is running the national and local elections. Smartmatic is a Barbados-based company that has a tainted reputation of implementing automation elections in other countries.
“It (the election) is being run by Smartmatic, not by Comelec, and to me, this is a gross offense against this country as a Republican democracy. This is incredible!” Cruz said.
Meanwhile, Comelec commissioner Nicodemo Ferrer lashed at critics for undermining the public’s confidence on poll automation.
“Why don’t they just help us succeed? Why are they trying to destroy the confidence of voters?” he said.