February 12, 2013
Reference: Fr. Joe Dizon
The challenges we face:
Kontra Daya statement on the start of the campaign period
As the campaign period officially starts, Kontra Daya calls on the Filipino people to remain vigilant regarding vaious issues affecting the national elections. The elections often bring out the worst in Philippine politics; political patronage, corruption, fraud and violence. The 2013 elections appear to be no different from past polls. Filipinos must be prepared to face various challenges.
On the automated election system
No matter what it says in press releases, it is clear that the Comelec is again ill-prepared for the conduct of automated polls. The foreign-controlled and privatized election system from Smartmatic again has shown problems during field tests and mock polls. There are serious issues regarding the software to be used for the elections as well as the reliability of the PCOS machines themselves. Many of the problems cited by Kontra Daya in 2013 have not been fully addressed, including the accuracy of the count, the relialbility of transmission of results. We find no comfort in the statements of the Comelec chair that the machines simply need to warm up for them to be able to function correctly. The Comelec chair may have a different understanding of PCOS machines that watchdog groups are unaware of.
On the Party-list system
In 2012, Kontra Daya embarked on a serious campaign to clean up the partylist system of groups that are neither marginalized nor underrepresented. The efforts of Kontra Daya and various stakeholders were undermined by Comelec because of its consistent basis in disqualifying some groups and accrediting others. Some groups identified with Malacanang, including those with former government officials among their nominees, were even allowed to run in the partylist system. The situation was made even more untenable when the Supreme Court issued a status quo ante order in favor of disqualified partylist groups, thus allowing their names to be printed in the ballot, even if they still face possible disqualification by the High Court. Instead of truly cleaning up the partylist system, both the Comelec and SC have made it again more difficult for legitimate groups of the marginalized and underrepresented to gain seats as they are now up against the partylist groups of the rich and powerful. Kontra Daya calls on the public to reject these bogus partylist groups in the 2013 polls.
Election violence, dynasties, corruption
We expect the 2013 elections to be no different from past elections when it comes to election-related violence, fraud and corruption. We expect massive vote buying to remain in many areas. We expect political dynasties to employ the tried and tested combination of guns, goons and gold. We are appalled by the scandalous campaign spending being employed by politicians, including the big political coaltions and includng those who claim to espouse the “daang matuwid” yet their campaign financing and spending seem to indicate otherwise. We call on the public to be discerning in their choice of candidates. We call on the public to raise important issues and to challenge the candidates to campaign on platforms and issues instead of campaigning based on personalities and populist rhetoric.
The public cannot expect much from the Aquino administration in terms of electoral reforms. The administration seems more concerned with political maneuverings and in campaigning for its bets rather than addressing the people’s concerns related to the elections. The people only have themselves to rely on. Let us be vigilant. Let us be prepared to act. ###