Kontra Daya: Unprecedented red-tagging, harassment, electioneering on election day

Kontra Daya: Unprecedented red-tagging, harassment, electioneering on election day

May 14, 2019

KontraDaya is appalled over the unprecedented and brazen red-tagging, harassment, and electioneering involving state security forces on election day itself in an attempt to sway and manipulate the results.

As it stands, government resources appear to have been poured to vilify certain candidates and partylists, particularly progressive candidates belonging to the Makabayan bloc. The election watchdog received overwhelming reports of “black propaganda” materials that were either being posted in various communities, or distributed near poll precincts before and even on election day itself.

These were documented in various communities such as in Rizal, Laguna, Palawan, Zamboanga del Sur, Siquijor, Cebu, Iloilo, and Davao del Sur. The same were reported in several areas in Metro Manila such as in Caloocan and Manila.

Particularly in Sampaloc, Manila, police officers were spotted to be distributing tabloids that contained reports, which were found to be malicious. The Police Community Relations Group later claimed in a tweet the said tabloid is their twice-a-week publication.

KontraDaya earlier stressed that the distribution of the tabloids wreaks of several election offenses such as partisan political activity and intervention of public officers and employees, use of public funds and resources for campaign, threats, intimidation, and terrorism, and coercion.

Harassment

The election watchdog received reports of how red-tagging has translated to physical harm, with voters being prevented to cast their ballots in areas that are heavily militarized and supporters of certain candidates and partylists receiving death threats.

Voters were literally prevented from casting their ballots in San Andres, Quezon and in Naga City, Camarines Sur.

Presence of heavily-armed state security forces did not help in providing a conducive environment for voters. Among areas that had strong military and police presence include Salcedo, Ilocos and in Pinsao Elementary School in Baguio City.

Two soldiers were spotted just outside the gate of Navotas Elementary School. Non-commissioned military and police officers, on the other hand, were seen roving the vicinity of Fort Del Pilar Elementary School in the morning of election day.

Private armies were also used to intimidate voters as revealed by documented cases submitted to KontraDaya. They were spotted in two towns in Quezon province, San Narciso and San Andres, prompting voters to run in fear from the polling precincts. They, too, threatened those they know will root for opposition candidates.

Meanwhile, in Giporlos, Eastern Samar, private armies were also reported to be buying votes through coercion and intimidation.

Poll watchers, too, were not spared from harassment. KontraDaya has received reports of volunteer poll watchers of the Makabayan bloc that are either being barred from entering the poll precincts or are being told to leave the premises in Sto. Niño, Cagayan Valley and in Quezon City, respectively.  

Nacionalista Party poll watchers in Bambang East Elementary School in Nueva Vizcaya were also subjected to red-tagging. In Quezon City, Bayan Muna poll watchers said they, too, were accused by police as leftists and communists. 

Death threats

Another harrowing observation in the election is how a battery of death threats was spewed casually against local coordinators and volunteers of partylists belonging to Makabayan bloc.    

These included death threats sent via SMS to a Makabayan local coordinator in Quirino, Rowena Hidalgo, and the sending of a funeral flower arrangement to the residence of Quezon City Makabayan coordinator, Ted Lazaro.

Last May 12, Isabela provincial leader and coordinator for Roxas town Renato Gameng received death threats. Makabayan volunteer in Caloocan City, Manuel Ferrer, also received death threats and was tagged as an NPA supporter.

In Cebu City, Bayan Muna officials were subjected to harassment on election day by police officers in full battle gear. In a report submitted Kontra Daya, police officers reportedly aimed their arms at Bayan Muna members who were  then conducting a briefing for poll watchers.

Disinformation

Even after several fact-checking sites have disputed this, a news report was aired on television in the morning of May 13 on the alleged disqualification of partylists under the umbrella of the Makabayan bloc. Later in the afternoon, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez dismissed the reported disqualification of Makabayan as “fake news.”

Meanwhile, Kontra Daya also received reports about attempts to spread disinformation in Baybay, Leyte, claiming that the election receipts can trace those who voted for the progressive Makabayan bloc. As such, voters may be tailed to their homes and become targets of the Synchronized Enhanced Management Police Operations (SEMPO). #

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