By Joey Natividad
CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region – Considered as the dirtiest election in Philippine history, a nationwide group of artists and citizens vow to join the Black Friday protest tomorrow, May 17, with other progressive sectors nationwide.
“If the Comelec is to be believed, the 2019 elections was, in their own words, “generally successful” albeit “a little problematic,” said the artist group, in a statement sent Wednesday to BicolToday.com in Naga City.
“We, artists, cultural workers, and citizens, beg to disagree. We have just seen the dirtiest elections in Philippine history. We express our extreme disgust at the conduct of the automated elections and the culture of corruption that it reflects,” declared CAP.
The Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) is an organization of writers, artists and cultural workers committed to the principles of freedom, justice and democracy. It was founded in 1983 to unite Filipino artists against the Marcos dictatorship and its repressive laws which curtailed freedom of expression.
According to CAP, even before May 13, government resources, patronage, and networks were shamelessly used to promote administration bets and maliciously spread disinformation about the opposition. On the day itself, there were widespread reports of pre-shaded ballots and vote-buying committed with impunity.
CAP continued: “On social media and even in voting precincts, the police and military broke their mandated neutrality. They actively spread lies and black propaganda against opposition candidates, progressive party lists, and the Makabayan bloc, even falsely claiming that these were disqualified. Military presence was reported inside Mindanao precincts; what way is there to independently ascertain that no anomalies were committed in Mindanao while under Martial Law?”
The groups said over P10 billion of taxpayers’ money was spent on an automated election with no transparency, and no improvement on previous automation efforts. The Comelec denied requests for open data and independent checks. Instead of improving the performance of machines, there were more machine and software failures this year (both for counting of votes and verification of registered voters) compared to previous elections. Most glaringly, the transmission of election returns was marred with suspicious lapses and a staggering seven-hour server delay. We all know: a lot can happen in seven hours.
The various anomalies reported defy all stretches of the imagination. The reality, however, is that these are grave and direct attacks against the electoral process—and consequently, on our rights, said CAP.
“We will not accept these results sitting down. Beyond frustration and dismay, we are outraged by the conduct of the national elections. We are artists and cultural workers, but above all, we are citizens. The vote is but a small part of the daily duty of democratic exercise. As such, we take seriously our duty to exercise and defend our right to public assembly, participation, and representation,” CAP declared.
CAP said that from the start of the campaign period, we wielded our craft, our voices, our time, and our abilities to support progressive candidates, causes, and platforms. In contrast with the ruling parties—whose candidates are emerging as frontrunners as we speak—we choose to stand for urgent socio-economic reforms for the poor, human rights and dignity, freedom of expression, social justice, and democratic governance.
“We thus laud the tireless creative labor of our colleagues, especially this emerging generation of young creators, to imagine, speak out, and take a stand on the future of our nation. Together, we are creating not just art, but also a larger culture of justice, truth, and human rights,” CAP vowed. “The unfolding results of the 2019 midterm elections are an insult to these efforts and our aspirations of social justice for the Filipino people.”
CAP declared: “We refuse to concede to an election outcome that is tainted beyond doubt by irregularities and harassment. We demand accountability from the Comelec and all those found in violation of election rules. We challenge the 12 frontrunners and the rest of the candidates: join the people’s call for transparency and accountability! Let this be your first act of service to the people as public servants.”
“We continue to offer our voices, creative labor, and efforts to the people’s movement for democracy, freedom, and justice. Tomorrow, May 17, let us don the color of grief, dark as the cloud that has been cast on our election. Let us all march at the Black Friday nationwide protests against the dirtiest and worst of four automated elections. Our future relies on our vigilance. If the Comelec cannot implement its democratic mandate, it is our duty to perform ours.” [BicolToday.com]