Davao City—More than 150 Lumad (indigenous) leaders from the Davao region participated in mock automated polls following a forum on the automated election system (AES) at the Bankerohan Gym.
Lumad leaders from Talaingod, Arakan, Tugbok, Marilog and Paquibato belonging to the Katribu Partylist took part in a lively discussion on the AES given by electoral watch group Makabayan-Task Force Poll Watch.
Afterwards, the Lumads tried to practice shading sample ballots and feeding their ballots into a makeshift/ model PCOS machine.
“Majority of the Lumad voters are wary about the first automated elections as this may further disenfranchise them of their right to vote and their mandate to elect leaders who would truly represent their interests in the elite-dominated government,” said Diolito Diarog, Katribu Davao City Coordinator.
Katribu warns that with the country’s poor literacy rate, which has rendered majority of the indigenous peoples unable to read or write, much more to operate computers, a big number of Lumad voters are intimidated and frustrated with the new system.
The forum is part of Katribu’s information campaign in relation to the upcoming elections. Katribu’s consultations in the city’s Lumad community alone showed that Lumad voters are still unfamiliar with the AES as the information drive of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has reached very few barangays.
“This so-called high tech voting system gives no assurance that the Lumads’ votes will be counted owing to the vulnerabilities of the AES. In fact we are worried that the system’s check and balance has a certain ‘exclusivity’ for the computer literate and the infotech experts, which makes electoral fraud more organized and massive this time,” said Diarog.
He added that while there is a need to develop the election system, computerization is not the answer to widespread electoral fraud. Diarog said that while the government’s power and the resources of the nation were monopolozed by the few and the wealthy and while most were mired in poverty, election fraud and corruption would never be solved.
Diarog notes that the indigenous sector’s votes have time and again been corrupted such as the 1 million Maguindanaon votes which the Ampatuans used to perpetuate Mrs. Arroyo in power back in 2004.
The mock election and voter’s education activity is part of Katribu partylist’s 12-day Panaw sa Tribu Alang sa Yuta, Kinaiyahan ug Kultura (Journey for Land Rights, Environment and Cultural Heritage). This ‘journey’ was joined by more than 80 Katribu leaders and members from the Davao region, with the first ever cultural and festive electoral campaign in Davao as part of their aspiration for political change and to have genuine representation in congress.
Aboard a truck, the Lumads, in their traditional attire, have traveled throughout Davao. They played their jingle, expressing the Lumads’ quest for land rights, environmental defense, and human rights.
Throughout the rest of the campaign period, they will go from house to house asking the people to support Katribu and other candidates who have a strong environmental advocacy.
On April 30, the journey will peak in a big march rally and meeting de avance wherein Katribu will announce the candidates that its nationwide membership will support.
KATRIBU Davao City Coordinator