Philippines: Checkpoints Another Move to Condition Public with Massive Military Presence on Election Day

May. 02, 2007

MANILA — Anakpawis Representative and political detainee Crispin Beltran today slammed anew the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ establishment of more checkpoints all over the country as the countdown to the May 14 elections begins. He said that the military checkpoints were being put up not so much to deter criminals but to intimidate and frighten supporters of the opposition senatorial slate as well as of the progressive party-lists.

“The checkpoint guards are actually on the lookout for members and supporters of the progressive party-lists, intimidating them and threatening to confiscate election paraphernalia,” he said.

“The checkpoints are also intended to condition the public mindset and get Filipinos used to the ubiquitous and alarming presence of the military come the actual election day. We have strong suspicions that there’s a massive fraud campaign afoot, and Malacanang will again be utilizing the full services of the AFP for this purpose.”,” he said.

The veteran labor leader turned legislator that AFP chief of staff Hermogenes Esperon’s attempts to justify the checkpoints fall on deaf ears.

“Who is Esperson trying to fool? The military deployment in the urban centers and the establishment of the checkpoints do not serve any higher purpose but those of Malacanang’s. The AFP will again be instrumental in the implementation of another massive fraud campaign which will benefit the allies and candidates of the Arroyo administration. It’s the involvement of the AFP that voters and anti-violence and anti-fraud election watchdogs should watch out for,” he said.

Volunteers to go out in force

Beltran said that Anakpawis will be mobilizing thousands of its full-time volunteers on election day to monitor the voting precincts up to the final canvassing of elections returns. “Even now our members along with the supporters of Anakpawis’ sister party-lists are joining the church-based Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) as well as other pollwatchers’ groups and participating in training seminars on how to detect and expose election fraud during the ballot counting process,” he said.

“Our volunteers are also being trained to be on high-alert when it comes to the presence of the military and the their paramilitary or civilian volunteers. The Comelec may have given the AFP the benefit of the doubt, but the progressive party-lists are not leaving anything to chance. The AFP’s increasing interference in the election process bids nothing good for the chances of the May 14 polls to be completely clean, credible and violence-free,” he said.

“We don’t want the streets to be swarming with police and military come election day. If anything, there must be more civilian volunteers guarding the polling precincts and keeping watch against any attempts to disenfranchise supporters of the opposition slate and the progressive party-lists.”#

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