Elections: A Past Revisited
May 19, 2022
MANILA – 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
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.
Interim Report of
the Philippine Elections 2022