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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)

‘Incoming Duterte Youth congressman’

The Commission on Elections has yet to proclaim the winners of the party list elections and his petition to substitute “resigned” nominees has yet to be decided on, Duterte Youth chairperson Ronald Cardema has already claimed he is an “incoming congressman” in the House of Representatives.

Cartoon by Mrk Suva/Kodao

WANTED: An Independent Senate

By Jose Lorenzo Lim

Midterm elections have always been crucial for any incumbent, as results will either affirm or reject the programs and policies so far of the ruling party. The 2019 midterm elections, however, appears to be different, as it happens at the heels of the Duterte administration’s implementation of harshest neoliberal economic policies and undermining democracy. The Duterte presidency has seemingly consolidated the Executive, Lower House and even the Judiciary under its influence, and the Senate could be the last stronghold of democratic processes.

After weeks of campaigning, the 2019 midterm elections is near. Candidates vying for senatorial posts have traveled around the country seeking to convince Filipinos to vote for them. It remains to be seen whether or not we will have a truly independent senate after the May 2019 elections.

Quick voters scan

Looking at data from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) shows that there are 61,843,750 voters in the Philippines with an additional 1,822,173 registered overseas voters for the 2019 midterm elections.

A breakdown of the voters shows that Region IV-A has the highest number of voters with 14%, followed by Region III with 11%, and the National Capital Region (NCR) with 11.4 percent. The Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) has the lowest number of voters with only 1.6% share of the total number of voters. The poorest regions also have a low number of voters. Both Region IX and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) only have 3.5% of the total number of voters.

For overseas voters, the Middle East and African regions have the highest number of voters with 48.7%, while the European region has the lowest share of voters with only 10.2 percent. 

While the huge number of voters does not automatically translate into voter turnout, in 2016 the country had an 84% voter turnout compared to 2013 with 77.3% and 2010 with 74.9 percent. Unsurprisingly, a high voter turnout can also be an indicator of dubious activities like flying voters.

Finding the right candidate

Instead of dancing around and telling rehearsed jokes repeatedly, what does IBON think candidates should stand for to deserve the Filipinos’ vote in the upcoming elections?

First, candidates should adhere to the advancement of socioeconomic strategies. Filipino industries should be protected and supported instead of allowing foreign companies to dominate the Philippine economy. An example is protecting and promoting the agriculture sector through production and price supports instead of flooding the market with imported agricultural goods, as is the rationale behind the Rice Tariffication Law, to lower inflation.

Candidates interested in genuinely effecting long-term reforms for the country’s production sectors should support genuine agrarian reform. The failure of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) to redistribute land to the tillers has only intensified landgrabbing and land use conversions for land market speculation. Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) records show that as of January 2019, there were still 549,920 hectares that need to be acquired and distributed. From 1988 to 2016, meanwhile, 98,939 hectares of land were approved for conversion while 120,381 hectares were approved for exemption from land reform coverage–but this is a conservative count as the real extent of land conversion may be underreported. After CARP, majority of so-called agrarian reform beneficiaries still do not own the land awarded to them or are in the process of being dispossessed because they are failing to amortize.

Third, candidates should be upholding people’s rights and welfare. Candidates should be firm in ending contractualization. It is still very much in place: Employment data shows that in 2018, 8.5 million workers of private companies and 985,000 workers in government agencies are still non-regular workers.

Additionally, legislating a national minimum wage of Php750 should also be a major agenda. Raising the average daily basic pay (ADBP) of Php401 nationwide to Php750 will in turn add Php7,649 to employees’ monthly income and Php99,432 to their annual income (including 13thmonth pay). This will cost the 35,835 establishments nationwide just Php465 billion or only 21.5% out of their Php2.16 trillion in profits.

Moreover, Republic Act (RA) 10963 or the Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion (TRAIN) law should be repealed instead of taking out taxes especially from petroleum products which are socially sensitive. TRAIN means less money in the pockets of 8 out of 10 Filipinos as only 5.5 million Filipino families benefit from lower personal income taxes (PIT) while the remaining 17.2 million poorest households do not benefit from PIT but all pay higher consumer taxes.

Candidates should also ensure that basic social services will be accessible to every Filipino. That is why there is a need to build more public schools and public hospitals aside from allotting higher budgets to education and health. But 2019 budget for the Department of Health (DOH) for instance was cut by 8.13% compared to last year.

Lastly, candidates should promote environmental sustainability. For example, a candidate should be firm to stop destructive large-scale mining, as this causes irreparable damage not only to the country’s natural resources but to many indigenous communities. Another part of this is encouraging rational consumption. Our resources are finite – what we produce and consume must only be within our needs. Candidates should also promote an environment-friendly agriculture and industry.

The public has heard the candidates’ stances on various pertinent issues such as the TRAIN Law, Rice Tarrification Law, contractualization, and jobless growth. Now the candidates should bear in mind that whatever promises they made during the campaign period would be remembered by the people, who will hold them accountable when they take their posts this June 2019.

The last stand

The new senate should carry out the task of defending the current constitution against the Duterte administration’s push for federalism, neoliberalism, and self-serving political goals. The most consistent is the intent to fully liberalize the Philippine economy for foreign investors.

Relatedly, pending proposed amendments to the Human Security Act (HSA) aim to prevent critics, thereby putting basic human rights and civil liberties in peril. The HSA could expedite terrorist tagging and linking and subsequent surveillance, arrests, and restricting of legitimate people’s movements. The new senate should stand against this creeping authoritarianism.

The Philippine Senate could be the last democratic institution for the government’s checks and balances, independent of and not beholden to the power ambitions of the presidency and expected to side with the people and defend whatever remains of Philippine democracy, people’s rights and welfare, and the country’s sovereignty.

With all these considered, the 2019 midterm elections could be one of the Filipinos’ last stands for freedom and democracy. Depending on how their favorite candidates have explained these to them, they can now vote wisely. #

‘PNP talaga ang namimigay ng black propaganda materials’

“Nakita namin ang isang bulto ng newspaper sa mesa ng mga pulis. Mayroon ding mga lokal na nakapagsabi sa amin at may mga pictures na ang mga pulis talaga ang namimigay nito.”–Rexi Sora, Kontra Daya-Manila

Black propaganda ng PNP sa halalan

“Mali. Kasagsagan pa lang ng eleksiyon, gumagawa na sila ng black propaganda para wala nang bumoto sa partido namin.”–Teodora Tañola, Bayan Muna member.

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)

Vote buying remains rampant, poll watchdog reports

Poll watchdog Kontra Daya said that vote buying remains rampant in today’s elections, a practice that has in fact started as early as January.

The group in its mid-afternoon report said it has received allegations of vote buying in the provinces of La Union, Bataan, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Camarines Norte, Negros Occidental, Aklan, Leyte, Samar, Cebu, Davao, Agusan del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur.

Amounts reportedly range from P200 to as much as P4,500.

In Metro Manila, Kontra Daya received reports on vote buying in Quezon and Taguig cities.

Volunteers on the ground described the vote buying as “widespread,” “massive,” “brazen,” and “insulting”, Kontra Daya said.

“There were several reports detailing how vote buying is coursed through their respective barangay officials. Others are reportedly ‘helping’ voters find their precincts in exchange of votes,” the watchdog said.

In Moises Padilla town in Negros Occidental, police have reportedly arrested those allegedly involved in vote buying.

Among those confiscated are sample ballots with P1,000 each attached.

As many as 28 suspects have been arrested, a separate report sent to Kontra Daya said.

Moises Padilla is under Comelec control following the murders of of reelectionist Councilor Jolomar Hilario and a relative last March 31.

In Samar, vote buying reportedly began as early as January, Kontra Daya said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Kontra Daya urges Comelec to probe PNP on poll violations

“Red baiting is a different level of negative campaigning. It poses risks to those who are red-tagged and might result in extrajudicial killings.”

By RONALYN V. OLEA

Election watchdog Kontra Daya called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to investigate reports of partisan activities of elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Kontra Daya received reports of death threats, harassment and red tagging of Makabayan party list groups and their supporters from all over the country. 

“The reports are very alarming,” Arao told Bulatlat. “They’re [PNP] supposed to be non-partisan. Comelec should investigate these complaints,” he added.

The PNP’s Police Community Relations Group (PCRG), in its Twitter account, denied that the newsletter being distributed constitute black propaganda.

The PCRG even posted a link of the publication.

Arao, also a journalism professor at the University of the Philippines (UP), noted that a report in the PNP’s newsletter claims that subversive documents and high-powered rifles were seized along with campaign materials of Bayan and Kabataan Partylist.

This, Arao said, is red baiting.

“Red baiting is a different level of negative campaigning. It poses risks to those who are red tagged and might result in extrajudicial killings,” Arao said.

Jose Mari Callueng, Karapatan paralegal and Kontra Daya volunteer, pointed out that the police violated the Omnibus Election Code and Civil Service Commission’s resolutions.

Section 261 (i) of the Omnibus Election Code (Intervention of Public Officers and Employees), states, “Any office or employee in the civil service, except those holding political offices; any officer, employee, or member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, or any police force, special forces, home defense forces, barangay self-defense units and all other para-military units  that now exist or which may hereafter be organized who, directly or indirectly, intervenes in any election campaign or engages in any partisan political activity, except to vote or to preserve public order, if one is a peace officer, shall be guilty of an election offense.”

The Omnibus Election Code prohibits unlawful electioneering it defines as soliciting votes or undertaking any propaganda on the day of registration before the board of election inspectors and on the day of election, for or against any candidate or any political party within the polling place and with a radius of thirty meters.

Meanwhile, CSC Memorandum Circular (M.C.) No. 30, s. 2009 cited publishing or distributing campaign literature or materials designed to support or oppose the election of any candidate; directly or indirectly soliciting votes, pledges, or support for or against a candidate, among others, as partisan political activities.

CSC Memorandum Circular No. 9, series of 1992 also prohibits posting and distributing of campaign materials, leaflets, banners and stickers designed to support or oppose the election of any candidate; utilizing properties, supplies, materials, and equipment of the government for political purposes, among others.

Callueng said negative campaigning can be considered a partisan political act. 

The Karapatan paralegal said Comelec has jurisdiction over these cases.

“Comelec should investigate and penalize the violators,” Callueng said.

Administrative cases may also be filed with the Ombudsman against police officers violating the election code.

Government employees found guilty of engaging directly or indirectly in partisan political activities may face a penalty of one month and one day to six (6) months suspension for the first offense; and dismissal from the service for the second offense, according to the 2017 Rules on Administrative Cases in the Civil Service. #

State security forces resort to death threats, red tagging against Makabayan party-list groups, supporters

Members and supporters of senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares and Makabayan partylist groups received death threats, harassed and labeled as communists and supporters of New People’s Army (NPA). The Makabayan bloc has been critical of the Duterte administration.

By RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat.com

Election watchdog Kontra Daya received reports of death threats, harassment and red tagging of Makabayan party list groups and their supporters from all over the country.

Makabayan bloc is composed of partylist groups Bayan Muna, Gabriela Women’s Party, Kabataan Partylist, ACT Teachers Partylist and Anakpawis.

In Caloocan City, Makabayan volunteer Manuel Ferrer received death threats and was tagged as a supporter of the New People’s Amy (NPA).

In Baybay, Leyte, voters were told that the vote receipts can reveal those who voted for the progressive partylist groups. Supporters were threatened they could be tailed to their homes and become targets of the Synchronized Enhanced Management Police Operations (SEMPO), which was responsible for the death of 14 people in Negros last month.

In Quirino, Isabela and Cagayan Valley provinces, Makabayan coordinators received death threats from four cellphone numbers: 0975-9366202, 0945-2934843, 0933-1836156 and 0997-5497428, according to a report by Northern Dispatch.

Agnes Mesina, regional coordinator and national council member of Makabayan, said their leaders and members received messages threatening them not to vote or something bad would happen to them and their family.

Rowena Hidalgo, Makabayan coordinator in Quirino, received this message from 09350682166, “Sika met Rowena ti ammum mailasat mu dagita aramid mu nga maka-NPA? Agbaliw kan habang nasapa pay ta litagen daka man inya man nga banda dita quirino.” (You Rowena, are you thinking that you can survive your pro-NPA activities? You should change while you have time because we can kill you anywhere in Quirino.)

The municipal coordinator of Neri Colemenares and Anakpawis party-list in Lallo, Cagayan received a letter warning him of his support for the group along with a live bullet.

Three days before the elections, Ted Lazaro, deputy campaign officer of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Quezon City and Makabayan coordinator, received in his home a funeral flower arrangement. On the same evening, May 10, plastic containing blood was thrown at his house in barangay Sta Lucia, District 5, Quezon City.

At the Bambang East Elementary School in Nueva Vizcaya, suspected intelligence officers were reportedly taking photos of precincts as voters cast their votes.

Red-tagging, disinformation

Elements of the Philippine National Police (PNP) were seen distributing copies of their newsletter, tagging Makabayan party-list groups as communist fronts at Geronimo Elementary School in Sampaloc, Manila.

Similar incidents of distribution of materials red-tagging progressive partylists were documented in Siquijor, Palawan and Cebu, according to Kontra Daya.

Leaflets urging voters not to vote for Makabayan party-list groups were also distributed in Tamauini and the cities of Ilagan and Santiago in Isabela, Tuguegarao City in Cagayan, and the towns of Solano and Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya, according to a report by Northern Dispatch.

In Baguio City, police station 5 shared a false information on its Facebook account about the supposed disqualification of Makabayan party-lists. Baguio Pulisya Singko posted an image masquerading as a news that said the Commission on Elections disqualified Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela, Act Teachers and Kabataan party-lists for the 2019 elections for allegedly destabilizing the government, Northern Dispatch reported.


Image uploaded by Philippine National Police Station 5 based in Baguio City (Photo courtesy of Northern Dispatch)

Also in Baguio City, people’s organization Tontongan Ti Umili reported that non-commissioned military police are spotted roving the vicinity of Fort Del Pilar Elementary School before noon. The group said that although the school is inside the Philippine Military Academy, police and military forces are expected to be 50 meters away from the polling center.

Tongtongan ti Umili:
“Campaign paraphernalia of senator-wannabe Bong Go was seen being used by a voter at Camp 7 Elementary School, 11:56 AM. We would like to remind voters that any campaign paraphernalia is not allowed within the polling centers. “

Anakpawis Regional Coordinator Isabelo Adviento said that elements of the 17th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army openly campaigned against Neri Colmenares and party-list members of Makabayan.

Poll watchers of senatorial aspirant Neri Colmenares and Anakpawis Partylist were barred from entering the precinct in Brgy. Centro Norte, Sto. Nino, Cagayan Valley. (With reports from Sherwin de Vera of Northern Dispatch)


Cops caught campaigning against Makabayan groups on election day

Police officers continued red-tagging progressive parties and candidates while elections are already ongoing.

Uniformed Manila Police District officers distributed copies of Pulis Serbis Balita, the official newsletter of the Philippine National Police (PNP), on election day inside PN Geronimo Elementary School, Sampaloc, Manila, poll watch dog Kontra Daya reported.

The newsletter’s banner story, “Kabataan, nanguna sa pagkondena sa legal fronts at political parties na sumusuporta sa CPP/NPA” tagged Bayan Muna, Kabataan, Gabriela Women’s Party, Anakpawis and ACT Teachers parties as communist fronts.

Kontra Daya said the police officers violated civil service laws and rules against partisanship during elections.

“Targeting progressive parties and candidates is a blatant disregard of the non partisan role of state forces during elections,” Kontra Daya convenor Giovanni Tapang said.

“Any office or employee in the civil service, except those holding political offices; any officer, employee, or member of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, or any police force, special forces, home defense forces, barangay self-defense units and all other para-military units  that now exist or which may hereafter be organized who, directly or indirectly, intervenes in any election campaign or engages in any partisan political activity, except to vote or to preserve public order, if one is a peace officer, shall be guilty of an election offense,” Section 261 (i) of the Omnibus Election Code (Intervention of Public Officers and Employees) orders.

The Civil Service Commission also reminded government personnel last January 24 from participating in partisan political activities.

No officer or employee in the civil service, as well as any member of the military, shall engage, directly or indirectly, in any electioneering or partisan political activity, except to vote,” the CSC said.  

Kontra Daya volunteer Katrina Yamson uploaded videos of volunteers confronting Manila Police District officers distributing copies of the newsletter. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)