LEFTIST party-list groups yesterday reported a widespread shaving of votes cast for their groups in at least 10 areas.
Task Force Poll Watch, an anti-fraud and monitoring group, said that based on Election Returns (ERs), party-lists Bayan Muna, Gabriela, Anakpawis, and Kabataan got 9,739 votes in 10 towns. But when votes were counted at the provincial canvassing, the figure was reduced to 2,534.
Bayan Muna Secretary General Nathaniel Santiago called the massive vote-shaving “a massacre of votes.”
“These are only partial reports. We suspect that more such incidents remain unreported, and that more votes may have been stolen or are being stolen nationwide,” he added.
TF Poll Watch reported that in Mabini, Batangas, poll watchers said Bayan Muna’s 4,109 votes were recorded only as 409, while Gabriela’s 414 votes were written as 214. In San Luis, Pampanga, Bayan Muna votes were reportedly reduced to zero.
In another area, in Magpaet, North Cotabato, Gabriela reportedly obtained 2, 218 votes but the Certificate of Canvass (COC) recorded only 983. In Columbio, Sultan Kudarat, Anakpawis reportedly got zero in the municipal canvass but ERs showed that it got 238.
Santiago said poll watchers were however able to point out the errors, restoring half of the votes lost.
The latest tally of the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections shows Bayan Muna and Gabriela leading the party-list race, with 70,867 votes and 70,356 votes respectively.
“Despite the obstacles of fraud and harassment posted by the Arroyo administration, all roads pave the way towards the victory of progressive party lists,” Gabriela Party-list Rep. Liza Maza said.
The group has so far recorded over 150 cases of electoral fraud and harassment against party-list groups and opposition candidates.
Massive and various forms of fraud were reported in Tungawan, Zamboanga Sibugay, where ballot box switching and padding of votes were done allegedly in favor of Team Unity candidates and administration party-list groups. Police and armed groups also barred party-list watchers from entering the municipal canvassing center.
Party-list sheets were also removed from several ERs in Malabang, Lanao del Sur. The group said if this form of fraud would be duplicated in all of the towns in the province, it could result in a “massive tampering of results in favor of government-sponsored party-list groups.”
In Marawi, for example, TF Poll Watch said votes were padded for the Ang Laban ng Indiginong Filipino (ALIF). ALIF, led by Rep. Acmad Tomawis, is an administration ally.
In Shariff Kabunsuan in Mindanao, only one to three copies of ERs instead of seven were made available in several precincts.
Party-list votes were also reportedly not being counted in several towns in Isabela.
Yesterday, a delegation of foreign observers, the People’s International Observers’ Mission, decried the labeling, use of fraud, and force against legitimate party-lists and opposition candidates.
The group said the killings of party-list leaders and members are “clear evidence of criminal attempts by state forces to drive these groups from the electoral arena and deprive the people of their democratic right to elect their own representatives.”
People’s IOM also reported that the military, through barangay assemblies, film showings, and house-to-house visits, warned the people against voting for groups like Bayan Muna, Gabriela, and Anakpawis. The military called these party-lists as fronts of the communist movement.
In its recommendations, People’s IOM said the government must address and check the military’s interventionist policies that “subvert the democratic process.”
It also advised that the party-list system be assessed, redefined, and reinforced to ensure that only legitimate organizations and nominees “who sincerely represent the interests of marginalized setors” can qualify.