Role of Philippines military, police in election violence alarming, says watchdog

May. 27, 2007

MANILA — The involvement of police officers in the burning of a polling precinct in Taysan, Batangas, which resulted in the death of two teachers, may just be the tip of the iceberg as far as the role of state security forces in electoral fraud and violence is concerned, says an opposition watchdog group.

The Task Force Poll Watch of party-list groups and the Genuine
Opposition has noted an alarming number of incidents of government
soldiers and police involved in illegal election-related activities
since the voting of May 14.

Citing data collected by its volunteers and watchers nationwide, the
task force has documented at least 66 cases of electoral violence,
threat and intimidation against voters and election officers committed
by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine
National Police (PNP). These incidents occurred in 64 towns and cities
covering 28 provinces, including areas in Camarines Sur, Nueva Ecija,
Isabela, Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Compostela Valley, Leyte, and

Among the acts done by soldiers and police during the elections were:

1) Abduction (or frustrated abduction), shooting and/or killing of
election officials, poll watchers and volunteers especially those
identified with opposition candidates and partylist groups

2) Intimidation and/or preventing opposition and party-list poll
watchers from entering the canvassing area and/or performing their

3) Threatening or usurping the functions of COMELEC officials in order
for electoral fraud to take place

4) Escorting candidates into areas not allowed during the voting and
counting period

5) Intimidating voters not to vote for opposition party list groups
and instead to vote for administration-backed party list groups like
Bantay, ANAD or TUCP

6) Distributing leaflets, putting up posters that attack militant
partylist groups

The Task Force said the role of state security forces in electoral
fraud and violence increased despite a memorandum of agreement signed
between the COMELEC and the Defense Department to limit the AFP’s role
in the elections.

“On the contrary, the AFP’s anomalous role in the May 2007 elections
is especially worrisome for partylist groups and candidates opposing
the Arroyo administration. We became targets of their military and
psy-war operations, including the harassment and intimidation of our
members and supporters,” said Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano.

He accused the AFP and PNP of “terrorizing” voters in party list
bailiwicks like Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Leyte, the Samar and Bicol
provinces. “Soldiers who previously went house to house campaigning
against our parties made their presence felt at the polling areas,
intimidating our voters. In Guimba, Nueva Ecija, soldiers actually
told voters to vote Bantay or nothing.”

Gabriela Rep. Liza Maza said they also received reports from their
watchers in Lanao del Sur where special elections were held yesterday
citing the involvement of PNP officers in coaching voters in election
precincts in Masui. Votebuying activities of certain partylists and
candidates were conducted freely in front of these troops, she added.

“The AFP’s and PNP’s involvement in this year’s elections has raised
the ante for cheating. It threatens to make democracy in this country
more of a mockery than it already is,” said Maza.

The Task Force plans to take legal measures against military and
police elements and institutions involved in the said acts of
electoral fraud and violence. ###

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