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    Philippine Elections: A Past Revisited

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    Press Release

    May 19, 2022

    Note: the Interim Report of the International Observers Mission is available now, and can be read here.

    The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines began monitoring the recent Philippine election from the kick-off of the campaign in February 2022. The Philippine Election 2022 International Observer Mission (IOM) was recommended by the Independent International Investigation into Human Rights Violations in the Philippines (INVESTIGATE PH). The IOM placed observers on the ground from the first week of April. They meticulously documented the unfolding campaign, the vote and the aftermath in Central Luzon, National Capital Region (NCR), Southern Luzon, Central Visayas, Western Visayas, and Mindanao.

    IOM Commissioner and Belgian Parliamentarian Séverine De Laveleye said, “These elections are extremely important to both the international community and the Filipino people, but sadly the outcome suggests a continued drift towards repression, state impunity and state terror”.

    “These Philippine National Elections 2022 were not free and fair. They were marred by a higher level of failure of the electronic voting system than ever before, along with rampant vote-buying, disturbing levels of state and military orchestrated red-tagging of candidates and parties including numerous incidents of deadly violence,” said Ms De Laveleye.

    IOM Bulletins recorded that the main opposition candidate Leni Robredo was strenuously red-tagged. Another Presidential Candidate Leody De Guzman was the victim of a strafing attack at a campaign rally in Mindanao. Many campaign activists were arrested on false charges. Large numbers of voters were unable to cast their ballots. Vote-buying was widespread. Many found their names were no longer on the voter roll, and many had to trust that election officials would later put their marked ballot paper through a Vote Counting Machine (VCM) because of the breakdown of the voting machines.

    The May 9 election did not meet the standard of “free and fair” because voters were denied access to reliable information, access to the voting places without intimidation, and a credible vote counting system. The IOM reported election-related violations of human rights from March 15, noting the first political killings related to the elections took place in Sorsogon, Bicol Region, on January 15.

    The elections took place in the most repressive atmosphere seen since the time of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The Duterte government has orchestrated state terror, marshalling the entire machinery of the state, including the judiciary, the military and police, the departments of education, social welfare and local government, in a war on dissent which continued through the entirety of the election campaign.

    The results of the election are a worst-case scenario for the Filipino people and for the international community. The President-elect, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., says that his father’s legacy of dictatorship were “golden years”.  Marcos Sr.’s 14-year military dictatorship ended in the 1986 People Power uprising. The Marcos family is estimated to have stolen more than US$10 billion from the Philippines of which only a small portion was ever recovered. Bongbong and running mate, Vice President-elect Sara Duterte, represent a political marriage of the families of the worst human rights violators in Philippine history.

    “Our concern is that the declared Marcos-Duterte victory will continue to provide legal and legislative cover for past and future human rights violations, economic plunder and crimes against humanity,” said IOM Commissioner Rev Dr Prof Chris Ferguson.

    ”The election is both a tragedy and farce of epic Shakespearean proportions, a farce in that the electoral charade was based on a sea of disinformation, disenfranchisement and intimidation of large swathes of the voting public; at the same time a tragedy in that the former dictator’s son and entire family fortune is based on his parents’ theft of billions of dollars from the Filipino people, and this is seen as the solution as opposed to the problem for a country mired in poverty and decades of brutal military control,” said Rev Ferguson.

    ”The priority now for the international community should be intensified international efforts to hold the outgoing Duterte team accountable for its abysmal human rights record, and to increase monitoring of the incoming Marcos administration. This work is underway at the International Criminal Court, and in the United Nations Human Rights Council processes, and can be pursued in national jurisdictions with Magnitsky-style laws. There should be no hint of a blind-eye for continued human rights violations under Marcos Jr.,” concluded Rev Ferguson.

    Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)
    Canon Barry Naylor, CHRP UK
    Séverine de Laveleye, Ecolo/Groen Deputy, Belgium Parliament
    Lee Rhiannon, Former Australian Senator
    Rev. Michael Yoshii, ICHRP Global Council, USA
    Chris Ferguson, Former Secretary General, World Communion of Reformed Churches
    Xavier Cotillas Romero, President, Catalan Association for Peace

    Interim Report of the Philippine Election 2022 International Observers Mission

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    This year, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines is carrying out the Philippine Election 2022 International Observer Mission (IOM). In the context of intensifying political conflict and attacks on the people, dozens of individuals are travelling to the country from around the world to act as observers. These observers have documented elections-related human rights violations including voter fraud, intimidation, and even arrests or killings.

    The initial reports of these observers have been collected and published in the Interim Report of the IOM. The report contains regional reports from IOM observers in five regions of the Philippines. It also details human rights violations that occurred in the context of the elections such as killings, abductions, threats, harassment, red-tagging, and more. Further reports and analysis will be published in the final report of the IOM near the end of June.

    The Interim Report can be read in full here.

    Release of International Observers Mission Interim Report

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    Date: May 19, 2022
    Time: 9am Geneva / 3pm Manila
    Registration: ichrp.net/IOMReport

    The 2022 Philippine National Elections were marred by a higher level of failure of the electronic voting system than ever before, along with a higher level of blatant vote-buying, disturbing level of red-tagging, and a number of incidents of deadly violence. Since February, these rights violations have been documented and reported on by members of the International Observers Mission. The results of these findings will be published in the Interim Report of the IOM.

    You are invited to attend the release of the Interim Report at a Zoom event at 3pm Manila time on May 19, 2022. The findings of the report will be presented by Commissioners of the IOM, who will speak to the situation in the Philippines as well as the role of the international community in condemning these human rights violations. Members of the media are encouraged to attend, and will be able to ask questions to the commissioners during a Q&A period.

    Stand with the Filipino people against fraudulent election and possible victory of son of former dictator Marcos

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    Press Release
    May 12, 2022

    The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) expresses our unequivocal support and solidarity with the Filipino people and the growing movement challenging the fraudulent elections in the Philippines and the threat to basic rights posed by an incoming Marcos presidency.  

    ICHRP, on May 10, called for continued vigilance through the vote counting period, and for an immediate independent investigation into the many voting irregularities faced on election day. What was emerging information at the time now appears to be confirmed as widespread and systematic election fraud. It is clear the integrity of the voting process, due to power and vote counting machine (VCM) failures, widespread reports of vote-buying, illegal campaigning, red-tagging and violence in polling stations has compromised the 2022 election results.

    The world is watching this election like never before. Six years of violence under the Duterte regime has shone a global spotlight on the deteriorating human rights situation in the Philippines, and the inability of the domestic judicial system to credibly respond. The global media outlets, governments, and international institutions such as the UN Human Rights Council are closely watching how the COMELEC and other Philippine government institutions respond to thousands of allegations and credible evidence of election fraud. The question is whether impunity continues or the state will heed the peoples’ call for free and fair elections and take the necessary actions to address fraud and widespread misinformation, including holding the COMELEC, Smartmatic, and F2 Logistics accountable.

    ICHRP supported the Filipino people’s effort to assert their civil and political rights prior to this election, through Investigate PH and the IOM 2022, and continues to do so today. This moment belongs to the Filipino people’s decades-long campaign to ensure ‘Never Again’ to the crimes committed under the Marcos dictatorship.  

    We call on all democratic governments and organizations, including from the labour movement and faith communities, to radically increase their support for democracy and justice in the Philippines, and commit to continue to do our part to support the Filipino people’s efforts for fundamental democratic change.

    Further comment: Peter Murphy +61418312301 [email protected] 

    From May 9th Onwards: International Observers Highlight Widespread Election Irregularities, Call For Vigilance As Vote Counting Continues

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    The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) calls for continued vigilance through the vote counting period, as well as immediate independent investigations into the many irregularities already faced on election day, May 9. The information we are receiving from various organizations, netizens, the media, and observers in the field make us deeply concerned about the integrity of the voting process, due to power and vote counting machine (VCM) failures, widespread reports of vote-buying, as well as violence in polling stations.

    ICHRP urges the international community to examine the integrity of the process and the widespread irregularities when assessing the outcomes, which at this point is an unofficial decisive win by the Marcos-Duterte campaign.

    Reports indicate more than 1,800 voting machines malfunctioned or failed affecting 1.1 million voters. As of 7:00pm yesterday, May 9, anti-fraud volunteer groups Kontra Daya and VoteReportPH had received 3,423 reports, 919 of which have been verified, from volunteers and citizen watchers. There were 321 verified cases (35 per cent) of VCM errors, which include paper jams and rejection of ballots. The number of malfunctioned VCMs has doubled compared to 2016 and 2019 data (1,800 for 2022 vs. 961 in 2019 and 801 in 2016) according to Comelec’s own data. There were 112 (or 12 per cent) verified cases of illegal campaigning, which includes distribution of sample ballots within the vicinity of poll precincts. 

    There have been reports of similar problems of disorganized polling precincts and crowding as well as malfunctioning machines and voters being asked to leave their ballots with the election officers. There were also army personnel seen within less than 20 meters of a polling precinct, a violation of the 50-meter distance rule for armed personnel. 

    In Central Luzon, complaints about vote-buying and intimidation abound – where each vote costs Php4,000 paid in two segments, while unwilling voters are sometimes paid and placed under guard at a house and prevented from leaving until polls close.

    In Mindanao, meanwhile, people have reported the last-minute replacement of local electoral boards composed of teachers, with military personnel. The same teachers also faced disenfranchisement because they were not informed that they had to file for absentee voting ballots. Instead of timely and adequate information, what is visible in the region is heavy militarization with checkpoints staffed by uniformed army personnel and curfew from 4am – 9pm. Local communities are more concerned with having easy access to voting and eliminating voter fraud, and the military does not address these. Despite the military presence, a grenade was thrown at a candidate opposing the current councilor at around 6:40pm on May 4 in a city in Mindanao.

    Violence has impacted on voting and campaigning in a number of areas. There were also media reports of deaths in polling stations in Lanao del Sur where six persons were killed and two others injured in election related violence: four died in clashes between the armed supporters of local candidates in Malabang town. In addition, unidentified men also destroyed five VCMs in five villages in Binidayan town; two of the suspects in this incident were later killed.

    Other election-related violence was reported in Ilocos Sur where five rounds of grenades were fired in a municipal hall injuring 9 people, prompting an exchange of gunfire with the police the day before the election. Allegations of vote-buying also triggered a shooting incident that left four dead in Magsingal, Ilocos Sur on May 7.

    On the eve of the elections, fake reports were being circulated that all Makabayan bloc candidates and partylist groups had been disqualified by the Comelec. Disinformation and fake news have been endemic during the campaign. The Philippines is identified as a testing ground for disinformation campaigns and is often referred to as “Patient Zero” by analysts tracking the spread of false news. Vast networks of trolls work for powerful politicians such as Marcos and Duterte and have been active throughout the campaign, with their primary target being Leni Robredo, as well as a number of other opposition figures.  There are persistent reports received from observers concerning red-tagging and disinformation against progressive candidates. Tarpaulins, posters, and flyers demonizing the progressives continue to be found in Cagayan, Metro Manila, Pampanga, and Laguna – near or even within polling centers, a clear case of illegal campaigning.  Kontra Daya has identified the Armed Forces of the Philippines as a key source of red-tagging misinformation during the campaign.

    The International Observer Mission continues to monitor post-election, and is calling on the peace and democracy-loving international community to do the same.