Philippines: Voters urged to guard votes up to national canvassing

May. 14, 2007

MANILA — At 10 am today, Anakpawis Representative and political detainee Crispin Beltran today cast his vote for Anakpawis and senatorial candidates as well as candidates for local government posts at the Commonwealth Elementary School in Manggahan.

Beltran, 74, was escorted by elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and joined by his wife Rosario Soto-Beltran, 64, who also voted at the same precinct. Anakpawis officials led by secretary-general Cherry Clemente and deputy sec-gen Sammy Malunes also accompanied Beltran along with Beltran’s daughter Ofelia Balleta.

“I’m hoping against hope that this elections will not see the success of the Arroyo administration’s electoral fraud machinery and the government-funded party-lists. The challenge that now lies before the Filipino people is to protect their votes up to the national canvassing and to thwart all of the government and the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ attempts to pull a fast one and steal victory from the senatorial candidates of the Genuine Opposition,” he said. “There will be hell to pay if Team Unity makes a clean or even just a partial sweep at the senatorial polls. Everyone will now that there was cheating involved because from the beginning, the candidates of GO were in the lead.”

“The reputation and the credibility of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) lies on the brink, and if this year’s elections fall into great chaos and mayhem by being fraught with fraud, Filipinos will be demanding a complete overhaul of the Comelec and its leadership,” he said.

“It’s already an outrage that the Comelec did not remove the Malacanang-funded and supported party-lists from its official list. The participation of these bogus party-lists have bastardized the party-list system. In the meantime, this move can be said to also be an intrinsic part of the Arroyo government’s intent to kick out the progressive party-lists from Congress and replace them with its allied groups whose main agenda is to protect the presidency from impeachment,” he added.

Three weeks after the visit of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Beltran remains incarcerated and so far the Supreme Court has not acted on his petition for bail. Beltran said that he is set to send an official correspondence to the IPU expressing his view that the Macapagal-Arroyo’s declaration that it will allow his release after talks with the IPU were all a ruse to get the IPU to temper its findings in favor of the Philippine government.

“The IPU will be informed of the government’s duplicity. I have been told that Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez has not given any instructions to Solicitor-general Agnes Devenadera to address my case and my motion for bail,” he said.

“The Arroyo government has ensured that I will not be released at any time during the election season so I would not be able to participate in Anakpawis’ electoral campaign. It’s been 14 going on 15 months since I was arrested, and I demand that I be immediately released even before the winners of the May 14, 2007 elections are declared. The government has no case against me, and my incarceration is a product of its campaign of political repression and harassment against progressive party-lists and activist lawmakers.” #

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