AFP, Palparan are clear and present danger to Lanao polls — Bayan Muna

May. 25, 2007

The Bayan Muna partylist group today denounced the Commission on
Election’s deputization of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,
including Bantay nominee Jovito Palparan and former PNP chief Arturo
Lomibao, in tomorrow’s elections in thirteen towns in Lanao del Sur.

“The AFP is heavily biased against the political opposition and
progressive partylists. They cannot be trusted to ensure clean and
credible elections in Lanao del Sur or anywhere else,” said House
Deputy Minority Leader and Bayan Muna President Satur C. Ocampo.

“The administration has become utterly desperate to trump the
opposition juggernaut in the senatorial race and to sabotage the
current standing of anti-Arroyo partylist groups. Now, it is using the
military to obviously influence, if not harass, the people of 13 Lanao
del Sur towns to vote for President Arroyo’s pet candidates and
pro-Arroyo partylists,” said Ocampo.

“Lest we forget, the AFP has vigorously spoken against the candidacy
of Ltsg. Antonio Trillanes and has actively campaigned against our
partylist organizations. Palparan meanwhile is desperately wanting to
win as Bantay partylist representative because his group is lagging
behind despite massive military support,” said Ocampo. “In the 2004
elections, the military played a similar lead role as facilitator of
massive cheating, as indicated in the Hello Garci recordings and the
testimonies of Gen. Francisco Gudani.”

According to Ocampo, “not only does this deputization violate the
October 2006 memorandum between the Comelec and the Department of
National Defense, but steps all over the Constitution.”

For Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casio, numerous acts of fraud and
harassment committed by soldiers in the May 14 polls point to the
“zero credibility” of the AFP on the issue of its possible “lead role”
in the special elections.

“In many areas, foreign observers and pollwatchers reported that
soldiers were behind some of the worst cases of cheating,
disenfranchisement, harassment and other acts of election terror. In
Maguindanao, soldiers allegedly ordered teachers to fill up official
ballots in areas where no elections were held,” said Casio.

“In the first place, what the hell is Palparan doing in Lanao? The
people there are already terrorized by warlords. They don’t need a
berdugo to terrorize them some more into voting for GMA’s candidates,”
he said.

Bayan Muna General Counsel Neri Javier Colmenares vowed to take up the
issue when the Comelec en banc reconvenes today at the Philippine
International Convention Center.

“This is the administration’s magic formula for negating the protest
vote to massively cheat in Lanao del Sur, to terrorize residents
there into voting 12-0 for Team Unity and to vote for Bantay,” said
Colmenares. “The Comelec should seriously reconsider its decision and
instead deputize the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting
and other such groups.”

The Muslim, lumad and Christian leaders in Mindanao may also be tapped
for the job. ###

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