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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Mindanao poll fraud detailed

Poll watchers report to Comelec
By Cathy C. Yamsuan, Jolene Bulambot, Charlie Señase, Nash Maulana, Edwin Fernandez - Mindanao Bureau, Inquirer, Visayas Bureau

Front Page in today's issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer are the massive cheating and irregularities in the ARMM.... These things have been happening before, especially in the 2004 elections. Thanks to a more vigilant media, we get to know all of it now...

MANILA, Philippines
-- Poll watchdogs Wednesday gave detailed accounts of massive vote-buying, flagrant cheating and intimidation -- including death threats to a foreign observer -- in Mindanao during the May 14 elections.

The price of a vote ranged from P1,000 to P7,000 in some areas in Lanao del Sur province, according to the watchdogs’ accounts.

“Not even the Manila city jail can accommodate all the corrupt people in our area,” lawyer Nasser A. Marohomsalic, a member of the executive committee of the legal group Lente, told reporters. Ranking officers of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel), Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente) and Citizens’ Action for Responsible Elections (C-CARE) took turns detailing how rampant cheating took place in Lanao del Sur. The officers submitted their report to the Commission on Elections (Comelec). The Comelec has ordered special elections in at least 13 towns in the province, where voting could not be held because of the presence of armed goons. Marohomsalic said one supporter of a candidate in Ramain-Ditsaan town even had the audacity to offer P300 to a foreign observer, an Indonesian female he identified only as Marini.

Marohomsalic surmised that the person mistook Marini for a Filipino given her Malay features. “Most buyers were inside the polling precincts coaching voters. Witnesses included local and foreign observers,” the watchdogs said in a statement.

250 votes each; only 169 voters

Marohomsalic said a Pakistani observer asked another person offering bribe money in exchange for votes in Bacolod-Kalawi town if what he was doing wasn’t illegal. “The person only answered, ‘Do you want me to kill you’? (Gusto mo patayin kita?)’,” Marohomsalic said in a press conference.

Read the rest of the article here.