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Philippines: Elections Cancelled!…No, Wait! Nevermind…Nothing to See Here

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Protestors in front of the Philippine Commission on Elections (photo by Kontra Daya).

There has been a flurry of activity surrounding the upcoming May 10th elections in the Philippines.  Just yesterday the Arroyo administration said that it was “postponing” the elections for 15 days due to massive failures within the new automated voting system.  For months now progressive Filipinos and organizations, such as BAYAN, within the Philippines have been warning everyone about the new problems of this automated voting system as well as its very real threat to elections transperency (all ready lacking greatly in the Philippines).

Along with postponing the elections the administration deployed 2,300 troops in metro-Manila at “elections hotspots” in order to “serve and protect” the Filipino people.  More then likely they were deployed to deter protesters from taking to the streets over the bombshell that elections would be pushed back.  BAYAN stated:

“Whichever way you go, given the unfolding events of a failed automated system, the only beneficiary of this chaos is Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. If the polls fail, or if the polls are not credible, she can take advantage of the chaos to strengthen her hold on power and gain leverage over her rivals,” Reyes said.

Bayan said it was concerned with the overkill deployment of more than 2,300 soldiers in Metro Manila to so-called election hotspots.

“Are the soldiers there to guard the hotspots, or are they on stand-by to thwart any protest action in the event that there is election fraud and failure? Are the soldiers there to pre-empt any people power against Gloria’s hold-over?” Reyes added.

The Palace’ impending appointment of the next Chief Justice, even before May 17, also raises concerns coming at a time when a potential constitutional crisis looms with the failure or postponement of the elections.

“The appointment of the next chief justice, at this crucial time, may also be part of the plans of the regime to legitimize whatever situation that may arise from the failed polls,” Reyes said.

But, today, it was reported that elections would go forward despite the initial call for postponment and the massive failures of the automatic voting system.  The Inquirer reports:

The Comelec Wednesday announced it was pushing ahead with the country’s first automated balloting despite eleventh-hour glitches in the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines that required recalling and replacing 76,300 compact flash (CF) cards.

“Right now, what I’m looking at, almost expected, what would happen is that the elections will go through,” Comelec Chair Jose Melo said.

Malacañang supported the Comelec position against postponement of the vote and underlined this in a statement Wednesday announcing President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s acceptance of the resignation of her election lawyer, Romulo Macalintal.

“The Palace respects the independence of the [Comelec] and defers to its judgment and decisions on all matters regarding the conduct of elections,” said presidential spokesperson Ricardo Saludo.

The moves in the Philippines were also met with a flurry of activity here in the San Francisco Bay Area with an ad-hoc protest in front of the consulate and with a benefit concert (last night) that was held by BAYAN-USA which helped raise funds for BAYAN in the Philippines.

Check Kontra Daya for continuos updates on the elections.

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