Philippines: Gabriela condemns AFP and PNP harassment, disenfranchisement of voters

May. 15, 2007

MANILA – Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza Maza condemned one of the first reported cases of harassment by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police against Gabriela and progressive partylist groups, and the opposition in polling centers in Batangas and Laguna.

According to Maza, members of the 730th Combat Group of the Philippine Air Force drove away members of accredited pollwatchers of Gabriela, Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Kabataan and Suara Bangsamoro from polling centers in Nasugbu, Batangas this evening.

“Our votes are in danger. Clearly, they are out to tinker with the votes of our parties, knowing the support we have from the people of Nasugbu. The military should be the ones who should stay away from the polling centers,” she said.

Maza also cited reports from watchers of Gabriela Women’s Party in Batangas where members of the PAF also entered precincts in Brgy. San Diego, Lian, Batangas and asked for vote tallies for senatorial candidates. There is also an incident in Brgy. Aplaya, Sta. Rosa Laguna earlier this evening when elements of the PNP asked for the results of the elections supposedly for quickcount purposes.

“The Commission on Elections should reprimand and penalize the AFP and PNP for these unlawful election practices being rampantly committed, especially during this time when the counting process in precincts has started. They should stay out and be pulled out anywhere near or within these centers,” she said.

Voters disenfranchised in Quezon City, Laguna, Leyte, Samar and Mindanao

“Where are the other three ballot boxes?” asked Gabriela Women’s Party watchers this evening as members of the Board of Election Inspectors of Bagong Silangan Elementary School almost hauled off three, instead of six declared ballot boxes from the polling center in Sitio Veterans, Brgy. Bagong Silangan, Quezon City.

Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza Maza decried this incident as one of the clear cases of disenfranchisement and fraud. “The people are being robbed of their voices when these cases multiply by the hour,” she commented.

Gabriela watchers protested and kept the COMELEC vehicle from proceeding to the city canvass center.

Reports to Gabriela Women’s Party national headquarters also cite cases in Laguna (Cavinti), Leyte (Burauen and Javier), Eastern Samar, and Mindanao, where the list of partylists in Ballot Secrecy Booths were either not present or incomplete. In the municipalities of Burauen and Javier in Leyte, only 63 partylist organizations were part of the list. Gabriela’s name was not included in the list in Cavinti, Laguna.

“Depriving the people of such information denies them of our right to make choices on who to vote for. With such pattern of disinformation in various provinces in the country, there is an attempt to ease Gabriela out,” Maza asserted.

Thousands of women watchers were fielded by the party since yesterday to guard against fraud and violence, as they kept watch over precincts after polling centers closed at 3pm. ###

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