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Good Shepherd Sister reports findings gathered as member of the international monitoring mission for May 2010 Philippine Elections

Submitted by: regina
On: 13/05/2010

As reported last May 8, Sr. Maureen Catabian RGS, coordinator of the Women, Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (WJPIC) Office of the Good Shepherd Sisters in the Philippine Province, participated in the international monitoring mission for the May 2010 elections.

Sr. Maureen returned from Abra today, May 13. 

Below is her report:

People’s  International Observers’ Mission 2010 (PIOM)

The PIOM 2010 is the third International Monitoring mission organized for the Philippine National Elections since 2004. The second mission was held in 2007.  The main organizers are the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and PAGBABAGO Movement. 

A total of 86 foreign delegates, representing 11 countries, participated in the Mission  and accompanied by several local delegates.  The group visited the “hotspots”  identified by the COMELEC especially during elections namely  NL-Abra, CL-Pampanga/Tarlac, NCR-Tondo, SL- Quezon / Bicol, WV-Iloilo, ARMM-Lanao, SM-Davao del Sur and NM-Surigao.

Abra is part of the Cordillera Autonomous Region.  The  Abra Province is composed of 27 municipalities.  Warlordism and Militarization is prevalent in Abra.  Killings among rival parties heighten especially during election period.  According to a study, Abra contributes to 16%  of the nation’s election- related killings.

Abra is also the most militarized provinces in the Cordillera region with the 41st Infantry Batallion and 50th IB openly in the Province.  The PIOM group left for Abra on May 8 and returned to Manila on May 13. With the Abra group were delegates from Canada, Australia, the US and Europe. The PIOM group was accompanied by Church groups, NGOs and POs coming from Abra, Baguio and Manila and locals from Bangued and Malibcong.  After a Courtesy visit to the PNP Provincial Director, COMELEC Supervisor, Military Commander, Governor Bersamin and Congresswoman Luna- the Abra group split into two teams. Team 1 stayed in Bangued (Town Proper) while Team 2 went to Malibcong which is an interior municipality in the uplands- a 5-hour travel via the rugged mountains and winding roads.

The  PIOM Abra group through interviews with the people in the community noted cases of  rampant “vote-buying” (prior to elections) and military harassment and intimidations during elections in 3 interior barangays of Malibcong.  In the 3 interior polling places that have been visited, the group noticed the people saying the elections is “okay” but one could sense fear and tension in the place as they refuse to elaborate their responses when probed.  There are several police and military with M16s visible and posted near polling places.  As observers, we have felt also the threat even just by seeing them from afar with their guns where  also some military taking photos of  the observers.

During the visit, the group monitored and documented cases of HR violations through  the  threat and intimidation by the military on some local residents whom they allegedly  suspect of being supporters of insurgents as they ask them very threatening questions, warn the people and sow fear in the community.

To vote freely is a basic political right and if this basic right is threatened and voters are harassed and intimidated, this is a clear example of HR violations committed by the military against civilian people during the  elections.


View Photos: May 2010 Elections Photo Gallery