Philippine Elections Rife with Violence, Irregularities and Voting System Malfunctions

For Immediate Release

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Paige Cram, Communications Coordinator, 212-679-5100, ext.15

Philippine Elections Rife with Violence, Irregularities and Voting System Malfunctions

NEW YORK - Seven
members of the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) observed pre-electoral and
election-day conditions during the Philippines' historic election last
week and
found widespread irregularities, a high potential for fraud, voter
machine
breakdowns, military intimidation and a deadly gun battle inside the
poll. NLG
observers joined over 80 other observers from 12 different countries as
members
of the People International Observer Mission.

"Candidate
representatives enforced the purchase of votes by personally filling out
ballots on behalf of indigenous voters inside the polling station," said
Radhika Sainath, a civil rights attorney at Hadsell Stormer in Los
Angeles. Sainath
observed the elections in Southern Mindanao, an area rife with political
dynasties, foreign plantations and mining interests, armed resistance
movements
and a strong military and paramilitary presence.

UCLA Law student Kyle
Todd witnessed armed soldiers stationed outside of precincts on election
day in
Central Luzon, where seven picketing workers were killed in 2004 on the
Hacienda Lucita plantation, which is owned by the Aquino family. "One
officer
even followed us into the polling place wielding an automatic assault
rifle,"
reported Todd.

NLG observers also
visited the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) and Iloilo

in Central Visayas. Throughout the country, delegates
received firsthand reports of vote buying, with voters being offered
kilograms
of rice and as little as 40 pesos ($.90) a vote. 

In ARMM, New
Orleans-based delegate Jacques Morial witnessed a representative of a
candidate
thought to be losing the election open fire inside the polling station.
Footage
of the 90-minute gun battle, in which two people were killed and at
least two
others wounded, can be viewed here: http://www.kodao.org/video/second-footage-lanao-del-sur-election-violence-incident.

"This is probably the
worst election I have monitored," said Morial, who has served as an
election
monitor in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America. "Lanao del Sur,
where I
observed the election, can best be described as a democratic disaster
area with
widespread violations of election laws, including intimidation and
harassment
of voters, illegal electioneering, vote buying and election-related
violence."

In 17 of the 39
municipalities of the province of Lanao del Sur, in Mindanao, a failure
of
election was proclaimed by the national electoral council, meaning no
election
was held.

Delegates also
observed
the systemic breakdown of new voter machines, delayed transmission of
results,
lines of up to 12 hours, and the disenfranchisement of voters who could
not
find their names on lists or were otherwise not permitted to vote.
Voters also
reported that the military and paramilitary had instructed them not to
vote for
progressive candidates or parties. 

Despite the widespread
irregularities, propensity for fraud and election violence, it is
expected that
Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, son of former president Cory Aquino, will be
declared president on May 25, 2010. Incumbent Gloria Arroyo and Imelda
Marcos,
widow of the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, also won seats in the
House of
Representatives.

The NLG delegates are
in
the process of drafting a report and multi-media presentation of their
findings, which will be made available within the next few weeks.

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The National Lawyers Guild is dedicated to the need for basic and progressive change in the structure of our political and economic system. Through its members--lawyers, law students, jailhouse lawyers and legal workers united in chapters and committees--the Guild works locally, nationally and internationally as an effective political and social force in the service of the people.

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