Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Calls for Comelec revamp must be addressed by incoming 14th Congress - Beltran

Wednesday May 23, 2007

Calls for Comelec revamp must be addressed by incoming 14th Congress - Beltran

Anakpawis Representative and political detainee Crispin Beltran today said that among the first issues that the 14th Congress must address is the issue of the credibility of the Commission on Elections and the failure of Comelec officials to stem massive fraud. Beltran said that Comelec chief Benjamin Abalos has failed his mandate to keep the polls fraud-free, and that the former was also indecive in immediately settling the controversial and crucial issues that compromised the party-list system and the party-list polls.

"There are already mounting calls for the impeachment of the Comelec chair as well as a thorough over-haul of the entire commission. Allegations are rife that the incumbent Comelec leadership has consciously and willingly colluded with Malacanang to rig the polls. In any case, there is a strong basis for the calls for the assessment of the performance of the Comelec and its top officials. At the grassroots level, Comelec representatives and officials overseeing the local elections have been inutile in stopping electoral fraud; neither have they been decisive in settling disputes and protests that have erupted when fraud was detected. In a word, the Comelec has performed poorly. It was unable to redeem itself for its dismal performace in the May 2004 presidential elections," he said.

Beltran said that it was mostly through the efforts of independent clean elections watchdogs and the teams of international poll observers that the incidents of fraud were detected, reported and protested against. He cited the Task Force Poll Watch (TFPW), an election monitoring group formed by the bloc of progressive party-list groups, and its discovery of vote-shaving in at least 10 of the country's provinces.

"The TFPW found out that this vote shaving caused Genuine Opposition senatorial candidate Loren Legarda and the progressive party-list groups Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, and Gabriela Women's Party (GWP) a 73-percent loss of votes. TFPW data showed that based on election returns, Legarda and the three party-list groups got 9,739 votes in the 10 provinces accounted for. They were, however, credited with only 2,534 votes at the canvassing stage.

"The Comelec under Commissioner Abalos has not been the standard bearer for clean and fraud-free elections. It is not surprising that there's already a groundswell of support for calls for a revamp in the Comelec, beginning with the chief commissioner's post," he concluded.#


US Assistant Secretary visits RP

Anakpawis solon Crispin Beltran today said that US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Christopher Hill must make sure to make time and meet the human rights organizations as he arrives in Manila this week. According to reports, Hill will attend a preliminary meeting on the upcoming Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) Regional Forum (ARF) in the country and hold bilateral talks with local officials.

"We hope Sec. Hill will not allow himself to be brainwashed by the propaganda of the Arroyo government that there is no crisis in the human rights situation in the Philippines. It's the Arroyo government that's in serious denial regarding the enormity of issue of extrajudicial killings of activists, human rights advocates and journalists. The brutality of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the shocking number of extrajudicial killings now amounting to 860 has already caught international attention and was exposed in the US senate committe on human rights hearing only a few weeks back," he said.

"In any case, Sec. Hill is certain not to miss reading the newspapers which are full of reports of the deteriorating human rights situation in the country. The developments in the fraud-wracked senatorial and party-list elections are also certain to catch his attention."


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