Election watchdog mounts protest vs fraud, violence; slams Abalos for threatening whistleblowers

May. 23, 2007

MANILA — Election watchdog Kontra Daya joined other groups in a rally against what it called Arroyo administrations orchestrated cheating, Wednesday.

Thousands of concerned citizens marched toward the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) where the national canvassing is ongoing.

Fr. Joe Dizon, Kontra Daya spokesperson, slammed Comelec Chair Benjamin Abalos Sr. for threatening to penalize people or groups that exposed the alleged fraud in Maguindanao should they fail to substantiate their claims.

Dizon said, Instead of encouraging witnesses to come out in the open, the Comelec is threatening them. Is the Comelec afraid of the truth that it now resorts to threats?

Dizon added, Why is the Comelec itching to punish possible whistleblowers instead of the cheaters? It is precisely because they will have to punish themselves for being the main machinery of the Arroyo administration for systematic and widespread fraud.

Abalos described as tsismis or rumors the cases of fraud in Maguindanao.Dizon said, Abalos himself seems to have already passed judgment on Maguindanao. The Comelecs task force proves to be a mere publicity gimmick. There are persistent reports from the media and even from Comelec-accredited watchdogs. How can the Comelec turn a blind eye to various reports of fraud?.

Dizon also noted that Rey Sumalipao, head of Comelec operations for the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), allegedly ordered the indefinite suspension of canvassing of election returns (ERs) in the senatorial race. Dizon said, The delay in the canvassing of ERs from ARMM is being manipulated to deliver a sweep for Team Unity senatorial candidates, if not to dislodge opposition candidates in the last six slots.

Dizon said, Sumalipaos record speaks for itself. And Abalos statement saying the votes from ARMM may change the national results gives us the whole picture.

The Kontra Daya spokesperson said, If blatant cheating continues, the Comelec would have provided more reasons for the people to rage against the Arroyo administration.

Kontra Daya convenors Former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr., National Artist Bienvenido Lumbera, multi-awarded director Carlitos Siguion-Reyna, Atty. Josie Lichauco, Ret. Col. Gerry Cunanan, Dr. Carol Araullo, Antonio Tinio were present. #

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