2022 elections ‘not free, honest, or fair’: ICHRP

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VIGAN, PHILIPPINES - MAY 09: Commission on Elections (COMELEC) officials transmit the election results to the National Canvassing Board at the Paing Elementary School polling station on May 09, 2022 in Vigan, Philippines. (Photo by Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)
VIGAN, PHILIPPINES - MAY 09: Commission on Elections (COMELEC) officials transmit the election results to the National Canvassing Board at the Paing Elementary School polling station on May 09, 2022 in Vigan, Philippines. (Photo by Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)

A report launched by the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) on Tuesday (June 28) assessed the May 9 Philippine elections as one that is “not free, honest, or fair by international standards.”

Information was gathered through an International Observer Mission (IOM), which consisted of 60 individuals from 11 countries and various sectors.

According to the Coalition, voters were “robbed of access to reliable information, access to voting places without intimidation, and a credible vote-counting system.”

One of the IOM observers was former Australian Senator Lee Rhiannon, who listed some issues that occurred during the elections.

“The observers reported that the May elections showed a higher level of failure of the electronic voting system than ever before, along with a higher level of blatant vote-buying, a disturbing level of red-tagging of candidates and parties, as well as a number of incidents of deadly violence,” Rhiannon said.

She added, “A large number of voters did not get to cast their vote, and many had to trust that election officials would later put their marked ballot paper through a Vote Counting Machine, thus undermining the secrecy of the vote.”

The IOM reported that election-related human rights violations occurred in the form of political killings, shootings, abductions, death threats, political arrests, harassment and surveillance of candidates and supporters, large-scale red-tagging, widespread vote-buying, media manipulation and repression, fake news, and harassment of journalists by the Marcos campaign.

The Coalition went as far as describing the 2022 elections as “a failure of the democratic process”, especially with state and military officials “openly campaigning” against Leni Robredo and candidates and party-list groups.

Red-tagging was indeed rampant throughout the 2022 elections. Tarpaulins were seen hanging in the vicinity of some precincts, outright affiliating certain candidates and party-list groups with the Communist Party of the Philippines - New People’s Army - National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF).

Even a Robredo sortie in Cavite was “red-tagged” by Cavite 7th district representative Boying Remulla – who will soon sit as secretary of the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Danilo Arao, convenor of independent poll watchdog Kontra Daya (Against Fraud) that was a partner in the IOM, described how the Duterte administration’s “campaign of state terror” contributed to the election campaign,

“As part of its war on dissent, the government marshaled the entire machinery of government, including the judiciary, the military and police; and government departments of education, social services, and local governments,” Arao said.

IOM Commissioner and ICHRP Global Council member Rev. Michael Yoshii mentioned that the Council is concerned about the incoming Marcos-Duterte government, fearing they might “continue to provide legal and legislative cover for past and future human rights violations and crimes against humanity.”

He added, “The return of a Marcos to the presidency and the virtual elimination of legislative opposition represents a huge challenge for the international community.”

ICHRP Global Council chairperson Peter Murphy stressed the importance of having an “intensified international focus” on the human rights record of the outgoing and incoming governments.

“The international community needs to strengthen the capacity of internal and external human rights organizations to monitor and report on the situation in the Philippines,” he said. “At the same time, the international community should continue to hold the outgoing Duterte team accountable for its abysmal human rights record.”

Last March, ICHRP released a list of government officials labeled the “Dirty Dozen” in an effort to hold them accountable for human rights violations.

Access the whole report here.

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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