Farcical and fraudulent: Kontra Daya’s assessment of the elections in Muslim Mindanao

Jun. 02, 2007

The following is the assessment by the pollwatch group Kontra Daya of the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao:

The provinces of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)–Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur, Shariff Kabunsuan and Maguindanaofigured in the “Hello Garci” tapes, the conversations between a woman who many believe to be President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and a man identified by many as former commissioner of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Virgilio “Garci” Garcillano.

In the 2004 elections, the opposition claimed that in ARMM, Arroyo’s votes were padded by 76,455 and her main contender Fernando Poe Jr.’s votes shaved by 41,313. In the final Congress tally, Arroyo won over Poe in ARMM, 549,944 to 272,715. But in the June 30, 2004 report of National Movement of Citizens for Free Elections (Namfrel), which had tabulated election returns (ERs) from 82.89 percent of precincts nationwide, Poe was leading Arroyo. Namfrel is a poll watchdog accredited by Comelec to do the quick count.

Three years later, many controversies continue to hound elections in Maguindanao, Sulu, Basilan and Lanao del Sur. Indeed, myriad forms of cheating were monitored by media and election watchdog groups.

During the first two weeks of the counting, the Genuine Opposition (GO) gained the upper hand over the administration Team Unity, with an 8-2-2 outcome (8 from GO, 2 from TU, 2 independents) both in the official count of Comelec and in the parallel count of Namfrel, its citizens’ arm. Periodically though, TU candidate Miguel Zubiri has landed in the 11th or 12th slot.

The votes from ARMM are again proving to be crucial for TU candidates desperate to make it to the magic 12. It is widely perceived that “special operations” by cheating experts in Mindanao and other regions are ongoing to dislodge GO candidates Antonio Trillanes and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel from the winning circle. It is also seen by many quarters that the Arroyo administration has targetted another GO candidate, Allan Peter Cayetano, for defeat by utilizing a namesake nuisance candidate and various other forms of harassment and sabotage. However, the Arroyo administration has so far failed to dislodge Cayetano from the top ten winning candidates.

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