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UNCHR reports high level of internal displacement in PH

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR) tagged the Philippines as among the countries with high levels of internally displaced persons (IDPs) by the end of 2018.

In its Global Trends Forced Displacement report, the international agency said that the Philippines has as many as 212,600 victims of forced internal displacement “due to armed conflict, generalized violence and human rights violations.”

While not listed in the report as among the 10 countries with the highest number of IDPs, the Philippines have been included in the worst 11 to 20 countries since 1980.

The UNCHR defines IDPs as people or groups of people who have been forced to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights, or natural or man-made disasters, and who have not crossed an international border.

UNHCR’s 2018 report, however, only included IDPs who fled conflicts and those “suffering IDP-like situations.”

The agency said that an estimated 41.3 million people were internally displaced all over the world, according to estimates from its Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

This is an increase on the 40.0 million reported in 2017.

“The small declines of the previous years were reversed and the internally displaced population in 2018 was the largest ever reported by IDMC,” the UNCHR said.

The agency maintains an office in the Philippines

Militarization and IDPs

Local human rights group Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights told Kodao that IDPs in the Philippines are victims of militarization.

“Their displacement from their homes and communities are due to military operations. Most of the victims are peasants, indigenous peoples, and Moro peoples,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

Palabay said Karapatan for its part has documented 449,284 victims of forced evacuations from July 2016 to March 2019.

‘Persons of concern’

The UN report also cited in its “persons of concern” category that about 80,000 Filipino Muslims went to live abroad.

“As in previous years, Filipino Muslims (80,000) who settled in Malaysia’s Sabah state were reported as ‘others of concern’ by Malaysia, the report said.

“Persons of concern” refers to individuals to whom UNHCR has extended its protection and assistance services based on humanitarian or other special grounds. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

BREAKING: Activist killed in Naga

Another activist was gunned down in Bicol this morning following the assassination of two human rights workers in Sorsogon City Saturday, June 15.

Neptali Morada, former popular campaigns committee head of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Bicol, regional Bayan Muna head and Student Christian Movement of the Philippines member was on his way to work when waylaid by unidentified suspects in Barangay San Isidro, Naga City, Camarines Sur at about eight o’clock this morning.

The victim works as a staff member of former Camarines Sur vice governor Ato Peña.

Neptali Morada (Contributed photo)

Ma. Roja Banua, National Democratic Front in Bikol spokesperson, demanded justice for Morada as well as for Nelly Bagasala and Ryan Hubilla, the two human rights workers slain in Sorsogon.

Banua also reported that a certain Edwin “Ka Dupax” Demetera, allegedly an hors de combat, was tortured and killed by the military who captured him last June 13.

Banua said was captured by 31st Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army and Philippine National Police personnel in Barangay Incarizan, Magallanes, Sorsogon but was beaten up and gunned down outside his house.

The Romulo Jallores Command of the New People’s Army said Demetera was on medical leave due to a swollen foot and was in no condition to fight. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

NDF Bicol vows justice for 2 slain rights workers

The National Democratic Front (NDF) in the Bicol Region vowed justice for the two human rights workers killed in Sorsogon Province Saturday morning.

“We assure the families of (Nelly) Bagasala, (Ryan) Hubilla and all other victims of violence of the reactionary State of the revolutionary movement’s nonstop efforts until justice is given them,” Nel del Mundo, Bicol NDF spokesperson, said in Filipino.

Bagasala and Hubilla were killed by two gunmen on a motorcycle at Phase 2, Seabreeze Homes, Brgy. Cabid-an, Sorsogon City at eight o’clock in the morning of Saturday April 15 while alighting from a tricycle.

Alternative media outfits Baretang Bikolnon and Bicol Today said Hubilla was paying for their fare while Bagasala was still inside the sidecar when gunned down.

Their companion Isabel (not her real name) and the tricycle driver escaped.

Bagasala was a member of Sorsogon Peoples’ Organization (SPO), a member organization of the Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights.

Hubilla, on the other hand was a Karapatan Sorsogon staff member and a member of the League of Filipino Students. He was a Grade 12 student.

Baretang Bikolnon reported that the three human rights workers reported being tailed by suspected military or police personnel when they were assisting “high profile” political prisoners being released Friday.

Hubilla took videos of two unidentified men on motorcycle who were tailing them and peeking inside their van, the report said.

Screengrab from victim Hubilla’s video of the two suspects tailing them Friday. (Baretang Bikolnon image)

The report added that the van driver who drove the victims during the release was threatened with a gun by unidentified men at around 9:30 Friday evening at Sorsogon City’s van terminal.

The victims were on their way to look for the van driver, reportedly a resident of Seabreeze Homes, to ask him about the incident when gunned down.

Karapatan national secretary general Cristina Palabay revealed in a Facebook post that Hubilla was in fact being mulled to act as witness for the organization’s petitions for relief with the higher courts last April.

“We were mulling to have him as a witness in our Court of Appeals hearings on the petition of writ of amparo and habeas data because of a recent incident of harassment and surveillance of suspected state agents involving Ryan and three other Karapatan human rights workers in Sorsogon last April when they were assisting political prisoners,” Palabay wrote.

Palabay said that the victims were most diligent in assisting the detainees and ensuring that their needs in jail are being addressed.

“Just yesterday, they provided assistance for three political prisoners who have been released. But now, Ryan won’t be able to testify, he will not be able to execute his affidavit. He is dead,” Palabay added.

The Filipino people are revolted with the unceasing crimes and brutal killings under the United States-Rodrigo Duterte regime. These violence and exploitation only drive the people to resist and join the armed struggle,” del Mundo said.

Other groups condemned the killing of the human rights workers, blaming the government’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Kapanatagan, as well as Duterte’s Memorandum Order 32 and Executive Order 70 for the “de facto martial law” in the entire country.

“Why is it that those helping the masses are the ones being killed?” Guillermo Abraham, Karapatan – Sorsogon spokesperson asked. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

OFWs in peril in Saudi-Yemen war, Migrante warns

A Filipino migrant group warned that thousands of Filipinos are facing danger after Yemeni Houthi fighters fired missiles at an airport in Abha, Saudi Arabia earlier this week.

Migrante International said that it may already be unsafe for close to 36,000 overseas Filipino workers to be airlifted to safety after Houthi fighters again targeted Abha’s Najran airport with missiles.

Migrante International photo.

Migrante said the Rodrigo Duterte government in the Philippines failed to put in place contingency measures to assist OFWs working in southwest Saudi Arabia close to the Yemeni border.

“Now that airports and control towers are being targeted, it will no longer be safe for Filipinos to be airlifted to safety from these regions,” Migrante said in a statement Thursday.

Migrante said that the Philippine consulate in Jeddah lists about 15,000 Filipinos work in Jizan and 7,850 are in Najran.

It added that in the Asir region, there are 13,000 OFWs in the city of Khamis Mushayt alone.

The city is close to the King Khalid Air Base which earlier suffered airstrikes from Yemeni fighters.

“We are outraged that the Duterte administration remains stone-deaf in hearing our calls to ensure the safety of Filipinos in Saudi Arabia as the Philippine government displays the same ineptitude it has shown during the previous outbreak of armed conflict in Libya, Iraq and Syria,” Migrante said in its statement.

The group accused the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs of merely re-echoing “almost the same consulate advisory issued by its office in Jeddah last month.”

“In light of reports from Saudi authorities on the interception of two alleged Houthi ballistic missiles over Taif, one heading toward Makkah and the other toward Jeddah, on Monday morning, 20 May 2019, the Philippine Consulate General in Jeddah Kingdom of Saudi Arabia wishes to advise our kababayans in the city and its neighboring areas to remain calm but vigilant for any eventualities,” the Consulate said in its Public Advisory No. 44.

“Will the government wait once more for thousands of Filipinos to be caught up in the deadliest last minute before it even lifts a finger?” Migrante asked.

The group said signs of escalation in the fighting have been clear but the Duterte government “wasted several weeks” in merely campaigning for its senatorial candidates in the region.

“This vile apathy demonstrates how much weight the Duterte government places on its lust for power than looking after the welfare of imperilled OFWs,” Migrante said.

Migrante again called on the Duterte government to ensure that concrete actions are already in place to readily assist OFWs in need of immediate evacuation in all locations of Saudi Arabia within missile range.

“It should draw lessons from similar periods in the past when it only responded upon the moment when lives have already been lost,” it said.

The fighting in the Arabian Peninsula escalated March 2015 when a Saudi-led coalition of Arab states intervened and backed the Yemeni government against the Shiite Houthis, bitter rivals of the Saudi Sunnis.

The United Nations earlier said that as many as 50,000 may have already been killed in the Saudi-led and US-backed war in Yemen in the past four years.

Recently, however, Houthis had been firing ballistic missiles deep into Saudi territory that signify the escalation of conflict where tens of thousands of OFWs are stationed. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Teachers reporting more toilets converted to faculty rooms

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) revealed more cases of teachers holding offices inside toilets in response to Department of Education (DepEd) secretary Leonor Briones’ dismissal of such reports as mere “drama.”

ACT said it received reports and photos from Maligaya High School, Sergio Osmeña High School, Bagong Silangan Elementary School, and Quirino High School in Quezon City as well as from Villamor High School and Calderon High School in Manila that toilets have been converted to faculty rooms.

“Common to the cases is that teachers chipped-in their own money to have the CRs (comfort rooms) remodelled and furniture provided so that they may have a space to do duties outside of actual teaching,” ACT chairperson Joselyn Martinez said in a statement.

Briones dismissed as theatrics a teachers’ Facebook post Monday showing they have transformed an unused toilet after vacating their faculty room due to classroom shortages.

“They had their choice they could hold their office in the laboratory rooms but of course it is more dramatic, it is more touching if you hold it in toilets,” a peeved Briones told reporters in an interview.

Bacoor National High School (BNHS) faculty association president Maricel Herrera is reportedly being threatened with an administrative case and cyber libel by her own principal Anita Rom for “damaging the image of the school and DepEd.”

ACT, however said, BNHS’ is not an isolated case as more teachers are coming out to speak out about their same situation.

Martinez added that teachers were compelled to set up makeshift faculty rooms in toilets and in stairwells.

Martinez also dismissed Briones’ claim teachers may use laboratories, libraries, conference rooms and other areas in schools, saying those rooms have their own purpose and must not be used as teachers’ lounges.

ACT also slammed Briones refusal to support their call for salary increases in accordance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign promise.

In response to teachers’ demands for at least a P10,000 monthly salary hike, Briones instead said that the profession is “not all about the money.”

“Sec. Briones’ tirade against teachers proves that DepEd does not intend to give teachers any dignity. First, they neglect us in schools by not providing us a proper office, then they oppose our just call for better pay,” lamented Martinez.

“Nowhere in any government agency will you see that employees take out from their pockets what is needed to repair government facilities. Teachers do it because they don’t have much choice and out of their vocation. This is one proof that we are not money-driven,” Martinez explained.

ACT added that teachers are the last that should be lectured about vocation and Briones herself should be the last person to do so since her Php3.9 million 2018 income strips her of any moral ascendancy on the matter.

“Unlike her, teachers live on poor pay but our dedication to our students and to the country drives us every day to continue teaching and make up for the government deficiencies, even if that means ending up deep in debt and with no pension left to support us when it’s our time to rest,” Martinez said.

“We don’t deserve to be painted as a whiny, selfish, materialistic bunch for asserting our rights. Maybe that is why the secretary would not support our call for pay hike, she thinks very lowly of us,” she added.

ACT challenged DepEd to a dialogue.

“We have been trying to hold a dialogue with you but have been ignored since February,” Martinez said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Your legacy is anti-people, KMP tells Arroyo

Contrary to her glowing description of her presidency and speakership as she announced her retirement from politics, farmers said House of Representatives (HOR) Speaker and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s legacy are laws detrimental to the people’s interests.

Responding to her valedictory at the last session of the HOR Tuesday, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said Arroyo led the approval of an endless string of anti-people policies and legislation, including the rice tarrification law, the lowering of the age of criminal liability, regressive taxes, revival of mandatory military training for minors, among others.

Arroyo said she will retire from politics after three decades after having been elected as senator, vice president, president and Pampanga representative.

Recalling her presidency and career in Congress with world leaders, Arroyo said she does not think she will have as dramatic a legacy as giants of world history such as United States President John Kennedy.

“I think my legacy will center around restoring our country’s fiscal stability after a storm of financial crisis here and abroad. Our fiscal reforms expanded resources for infrastructure and development, after which, as I said earlier, our poverty level went down from 39% to 26%” she said.

‘Good riddance’

The KMP said they welcome Arroyo’s retirement from politics as “good riddance.”

“She will continue to be known as among the most loathed public officials in history. Arroyo and her enabler Rodrigo Duterte deserve condemnation for all the anti-people policies they are implementing,” KMP chairperson emeritus and Anakpawis President Rafael Mariano said. 

Mariano recalled that Arroyo’s speakership did nothing but ignore Anakpawis’ landmark bills.

“Under Arroyo’s helm in Congress, pro-people measures such as the Genuine Agrarian Reform Bill and Php750 national minimum wage hike were snubbed and archived,” Mariano said.

Mariano added that Arroyo also presided in the railroading of the refilled coco levy bill that reduced the number of farmer-representatives to the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Trust Fund Committee from nine to only three last month. 

“The coco levy bill approved by Congress will not guarantee the return of the multibillion coco levy fund and assets to farmers. Duterte and his allies will only gain control of the fund,” Mariano said. 

Under the new coco levy bill, the trust fund committee will have an annual capitalization budget of Php10-billion, the Coconut Farmers and Industry Development Trust Fund Committee to be appointed by the President will be composed of six representatives from government sector, two representatives from the private coconut industry sector, and only three farmer-representatives.

The coco levy assets will be privatized under the supervision of the Privatization Management Office, the KMP added.

“These are not the demands of small coconut farmers. Ito ang gusto ni Duterte kaya ito ang sinunod ng Kongreso,” Mariano said.

“This long and drawn out battle for the return of the coco levy fund has burdened millions of small coconut farmers and their families. Many of them have died without actually benefiting from the coco levy fund,” the peasant leader said.  

Estimated to be worth up to 150 billion pesos, the fund was levied from coconut farmers by the Ferdinand Marcos regime that the Supreme Court said belonged to them.

Mariano said small coconut farmers will continue to assert the genuine return of the fund.

‘Loathed politician’

Arroyo, daughter of former President Diosdado Macapagal, was the Phillippine president for nine years.

She took over the presidency from Joseph Estrada in 2001 after an uprising.

Her election in 2004 to a presidential term of her own was widely believed to be fraudulent, leading to massive protests and even ouster attempts by rebel soldiers.

During her reign, human rights group Karapatan reported 1,205 victims of extrajudicial killings and 206 victims of enforced disappearances. 

She was also elected as Pampanga second district representative in 2010.

She was arrested and jailed for plunder in 2011 but was acquitted and freed in 2016.

In July 2017, she was elected as House Speaker in a controversial maneuver alleged to be orchestrated by Davao City mayor Sara Duterte who was at odds with then Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Makabayan bloc set to win 6 seats

The Makabayan bloc may still get as many as six seats in the House of Representatives as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) is set to proclaim the winners of the party list race tonight.

Despite relentless harassment and vilification by the military and police throughout the campaign period up to election day last May 13, the progressive parties amassed a total of 2,236,155 votes that may give the bloc up to six seats in the 18th Congress, just one less than its current number of representatives.

Bayan Muna is set to have three seats after garnering 1,117,403 votes representing 4.01% of all party list votes cast.  

It placed second behind high-spending ACT-CIS Party, the only other party to win three seats.

Gabriela Women’s Party placed 12th in the race, garnering 449,440 votes representing 1.61% of all party list votes cast and winning one seat.

ACT Teachers Party came close behind at 15th place, with 395,327 votes representing 1.42% of all party list votes cast and winning one seat.

Gabriela Womens’ and ACT Teachers’ each have two sitting representatives in the current 17th Congress.

Both groups are the only parties in their respective sectors elected to any legislature in the entire world.

At 51st place and the last group to win a seat is Kabataan Party, garnering 196,385 votes representing 0.70% of all party list votes cast.

Anakpawis, however, failed to win a seat, placing at 62nd place with 146,511 votes representing 0.53% of all party list votes cast.

The NBOC is set to proclaim all 51 winning parties at seven o’clock tonight at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.

Gabriela Womens’ Party has two seats, ACT Teachers Party has two more while Bayan Muna, Kabataan and Anakpawis have one each in the current 17th Congress.

The bloc lost one seat in May 13’s elections.

Relentless attacks

Earlier, the Makabayan Bloc complained of threats and harassments of its campaigners, members and supporters by the military and police.

A massive “zero vote” was also launched in Mindanao prior to the elections while Davao City mayor Sara Duterte openly called on her constituents not to vote for Makabayan parties.

Makabayan members also suffered two massacres in Negros Island and arrests of supporters in Bulacan and Bohol whiles its supporters were prevented from voting in several regions across the country.

On election day last May 13, Philippine National Police officers distributed newsletters tagging Makabayan parties as communist fronts.

 “Despite many reports of fraud, the Rodrigo Duterte regime cannot defeat the people’s will,” Bayan Muna second nominee Ferdinand Gaite earlier told Kodao. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Neri says he will not concede defeat to ‘abnormal elections’

Makabayan senatorial bet Neri Colmenares said he will not concede defeat in the face of massive fraud in Monday’s national polls.

Citing “brazen” illegal partisan activities by the police and military against Makabayan’s national and local bets, Colmenares said he remains undefeated by the elections that are “not normal.”

“How can I concede to a rotten electoral exercise that has basically deceived, bribed, intimidated and manipulated our people into electing the worst kinds of leaders imaginable? I cannot,” he said.

“It would have been easy to concede had I lost in a fair and honest elections. But this year’s elections were hardly fair or honest. Besides, this is no longer about me but about giving our people a fair chance to exercise their constitutional right to suffrage,” Colmenares explained.

The former Bayan Muna representative, who has remained at the 24th spot since the start of the canvassing, accused Rodrigo Duterte government of unleashing intensified, tokhang-style police and military operations in Bicol, Eastern and Western Visayas that are known progressive bailiwicks meant to prevent Makabayan supporters from voting.

Northern Dispatch also reported that Makabayan supporters received death threats to dissuade them from campaigning and voting in Cagayan Valley.

In addition to Mindanao still languishing under Martial Law, the massive human rights abuses also resulted in at least two massacres and a state of terror in communities during the campaing period, Colmenares said.

The activist candidate also said the Philippine National Police were caught red-handed distributing black propaganda materials against Makabayan in various polling centers in Metro Manila on election day.

‘Duterte as first violator’

Colmenares said it was President Duterte who led in the violation of various election laws.

“We saw how the President, using his presidential platform, led the vilification of the opposition and progressive candidates, dishing out insults and lies at every opportunity. This year, honesty as a qualification for public office was openly thrown out the window. And vote buying was justified by the highest official of the land,” Colmenares said.

He added that Duterte and his allies threatened and intimidated local politicians into supporting their candidates and denying the opposition and progressive candidates the opportunity to campaign at the grassroots.

“I have never seen so fearful a set of local politicians than now,” he revealed.

Colmenares also cited how the Duterte administration used government resources, funds and facilities to promote pro-Administration candidates, especially those favored by the President.

Widespread violations by administration candidates

Colmenares said pro-administration parties and candidates openly broke election rules that should not have been allowed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec)

“We saw how the rules – from postering and other campaign activities to widespread vote buying – were being flouted with impunity up to election day, and the Comelec blind or helpless about it,” Colmenares said.

He said he saw how candidates were already campaigning, spending hundreds of millions on TV and radio advertisments prior to campaign period.

“But that was nothing compared to the deluge of ads during the campaign period, skirting whatever limits we’re supposed to have on campaign spending and advertising,” Colmenares said.

Machine failure

There were unprecedented failures in the vote counting machines and SD cards used to run those machines on election day itself, Colmenares said.

He also cited the withholding of transmitted results from the public for seven hours Monday evening on “some flimsy technical glitch that had never happened in the past three automated elections.”

“Many of us slept and woke up to the TV screen showing 12 winning senators, not knowing what happened,” he revealed.

He also recalled that he filed resolutions to investigate election fraud in the automated election in his three terms in Congress as Bayan Muna representative.# (Raymund B. Villanueva)

PNP, AFP fail to stop Bayan Muna from winning

Furious campaigning by state forces and online trolls against progressive parties failed to stop Bayan Muna (BM) from gaining lost ground in yesterday’s midterm national elections.

BM is at the second spot with about 1.08 million votes as of 8:12 am today in partial and unofficial tallies by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

BM’s votes represent 4.05% of 93.6% of election results tallied by the Comelec thus far, assuring the 2001 top party list group of at least two seats in the next congress.

“Despite many reports of fraud, the Rodrigo Duterte regime cannot defeat the people’s will,” BM second nominee Ferdinand Gaite told Kodao.

Gaite was referring to partisan election activities by the Philippine National Police (PNP) aimed at discouraging voters from choosing BM and other progressive parties in yesterday’s polls.

Officers of the Manila Police District were caught distributing PNP’s official newsletter “Pulis Serbis Balita” in various polling centers yesterday containing articles maligning BM and Kabataan Party.

Poll watchdog Kontra Daya also received reports of death threats and harassments against volunteers and supporters of the progressive parties in many parts of the country.

“The Duterte administration utilized its entire machinery—time, resources, power, influence as well as the military, police and others—to also push for its rotten candidates and parties for the partylist elections. We are not surprised that the parties Duterte openly endorsed are those charged with graft and corruption,” Gaite said.

Meanwhile, Gabriela Women’s Party and ACT Teachers Party are poised to win seats in the next congress.

Gabriela is currently at 12th spot with 434,319 votes representing 1.63% of party list votes cast.

ACT is at 17th place with 380,760 votes, representing 1.43% of party list votes cast.

Kabataan Party and Anakpawis are in the middle tier of the party list race  at 48th and 62nd places, respectively.

Kabataan has 189,830 votes, representing 0.71% of the votes with Anakpawis has 140,567 votes, representing 0.53 of the votes.

Member organizations of Kabataan Party are set to hold indignation rallies throughout the country this afternoon to protest fraud in yesterday’s polls as well as the delayed posting of results by Comelec’s faulty servers.# (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Machine errors worse in today’s polls than in 2016, Kontra Daya reveals

Voter counting machine errors worsened in today’s polls, bucking the lowering trend set in the 2013 and 2016 national and local elections, watchdog Kontra Daya revealed.

The group raised alarm over mounting reports of voting machine failures on top of procedural lapses, vote buying, harassment, and militarization of polling stations as today’s elections were supposedly nearing their end.  

In an update released at four o’clock this afternoon, Kontra Daya reported more than 288 incidents of vote counting machine (VCM) failures that were independently monitored and mapped by its volunteer network on the ground.

 “The magnitude of the problem is clearer now that the Comelec has just admitted that 600 out an estimated 85,768 voting machines have been replaced,” Kontra Daya reported.

The group noted that the violations are worse than during the 2016 elections.

Kontra Daya said it monitored 205 VCM malfunctions in 2010, 171 cases in 2013, and 150 cases in 2016.

‘Recurring and systemic machine failures’

Todays elections are the fourth time the controversial VCMs are being used in the polls.

“Since the shift to automated elections, malfunctioning VCMs and voters registration verification machines (VRVM) are a cause of voter disenfranchisement due to delays,” Kontra Daya said.

“Rejected ballots, machines shutting down, stopping, or refusing to start, stuck up ballots and/or voters’ receipts, discrepancies in receipts generated, and resorting to manual procedures for verification of voter’s names,” the group added.

“With COMELEC’s admission that there are about 400-600 VCMs that need to be replaced in today’s polls, Kontra Daya expresse[s] alarm over possible election fraud and disenfranchisement,” Kontra Daya said.

The group said that the incidents of VCM failure in today’s polls may still increase.

VCM machine problems or shutdowns affected several precincts across major regions including Metro Manila (including Caloocan, Manila, San Juan, Malabon, Novaliches, Pasig, and Quezon Cities), Nueva Vizcaya, Cagayan Valley, Isabela, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Aurora, Albay, Cebu City, Eastern Samar, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao, the watchdog said.

No less than former Vice-President Jejomar Binay initially failed to cast his vote due to a malfunctioning VCM in his precinct earlier this morning. A replacement machine was eventually brought in, allowing Binay to vote after several hours.

Problematic VRVMs

Cases of malfunctioning VRVMs were also reported in Quezon City, Cavite, Caloocan, and Cebu City.

In these cases, most of the VRVMs in the polling precincts were reported as not working, compelling teachers to resort to manual verification of voters’ names in the list, Kontra Daya said.

A source also informed Kodao that Board of Election Inspectors in Nueva Ecija decided to stop using defective VRVMs this morning.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) introduced the use of VRVMs in today’s elections but said these are absolutely necessary in the conduct of the polls.

Earlier, Kontra Daya called for the suspension of the use of VRVMs as they have caused unnecessary delays in the voting.

Continuation of the pilot testing until 6 p.m. could result in voter disenfranchisement, Kontra Daya said.

As of six o’clock tonight, several voting precincts throughout Quezon City reported long lines of voters still waiting to cast their votes.

Polling precincts are supposed to close at five o’clock.# (Raymund B. Villanueva)