Philippines: Political dynasties hinder Filipinos exercise to vote

May. 15, 2007

City of San Fernando “This year’s elections in the Philippines made me realize just how much political dynasties (and militarization) heavily influence Filipinos’ free exercise of their right to vote.” This is what Ms. Aimee Beboso, a Filipino-Canadian had to say after her third day of observing the country’s current polls.

Ms Beboso, Spokesperson of the Pampanga Team of the People’s International Observers Mission (PIOM) said in the City of Angeles alone the incumbent City Mayor is running for a congressional post while his son is seeking to replace his old man as City Mayor. Both of them are pitted against another father and son team who has a long family history of political rule also in the city.

She said the provincial level elections is all too confusing. A son of a senator is seeking reelection as the province’s governor against a provincial board member who’s got a son seeking reelection on the top seat in the municipality of their origin, and a presidential son running unopposed for a second term for district representation in the Congress’ lower house.

Beboso said, after 14 years of being away from the country she realized that this contemporary reality is so deeply embedded in the country’s political and electoral life and simply serves to perpetuate a few elite.

Meanwhile, Mr. Arnljot Ask, an international solidarity volunteer from Norway said that they had not had the chance to see and document what is widely reported as violations such as vote buying and other fraud which characterized the earlier elections in the country particularly in 2004.

“Yet, election here is too slow and has so many levels, from the precinct to the municipal and the cities, to the provincial and to the national levels. Wide-scale fraud can be done more easily on all the levels going up,” he averred

The Pampanga Mission as of last night have received information which they are still trying to verify involving at least six cases of vote buying, filled up ballots inserted on food distributed to teachers and watchers, transport of unlocked ballot boxes, and other forms of election fraud in the City of San Fernando, Floridablanca Mexico and other parts of the province.

Early this morning, the People’s IOM was also prompted regarding a case where armed men took at gun-point two ballot boxes being transported from the far-flung barangay of Candating to the municipal hall in Arayat. One of the men transporting the ballot boxes was pushed to a side creek. The local police were allegedly three hours late in their rescue and the local office of the Commission on Election have no number by which they can be easily reached.

The Peoples International Observer Mission in an initiative of different peoples’ organizations and human rights defenders including 26 foreign nationals. They have another Mission team observing the election in Nueva Ecija also here in Central Luzon and seven other teams spread all over the Visayas and Mindanao.

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