Dirtiest elections in history spark protests

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The Kontra Daya (group against electoral fraud) and democratic organizations described the 2022 elections as the dirtiest elections in the country’s history. According to the group, failures were prevalent on election day and the campaign was marked by relentless disinformation.

Initial estimates by Kontra Daya showed around 1.1 million voters were disenfranchised due to the malfunctioning of 2,000 vote counting machines (VCM). Many were not able to vote due to disorder and delays. Many voters were forced to leave their ballots to election officials. Due to these failures, voters urged the Commission on Elections to extend voting hours but were denied.

All in all, election watchdogs such as Kontra Daya and Vote Report PH received 4,000-9,500 reports of anomalies and problems last election period. Around 3,000 of these were confirmed. Of the verified 2,683 reports, malfunctioning VCMs and SD cards constituted 52.3%, followed by electioneering (14%) and election process-related incidents (11.2%).

Both groups raised concern over incidents where the Comelec asked voters to leave their ballots, and allowed others to inserte these in the machines, with voters leaving their precincts with no receipts due to the late arrival of replacement machines. They called for an investigation on this system. This year’s election recorded the highest number of malfunctioning VCMs compared to the 2010 and 2016 automated elections. According to a statistics professor, “the only way to verify (the machine vote-counting) is through manual counting of votes.”

Moreover, reports of vote-buying and police and military presence in voting precincts were reported. More cases of intimidation and violence, most especially in the countryside, were not documented by the group.

According to Prof. Danny Arao, Kontra Daya convenor, “The conclusion for this elections is simple, this has been the worst. This has been the most rotten. And this has been the most fraudulent.”

In addition to fraud, systematic disinformation, social media advertising and algorithms played an important part in this elections.

The dirty elections which favored the Marcos-Duterte tandem sparked various mass actions by the people. Last May 10, thousands, mostly young people, marched to the Comelec office to criticize its failure in the previous elections. They set up the Kampuhan Kontra Daya in Liwasang Bonifacio until May 13 and held discussions and cultural performances. They called on fellow “kakampinks” (supporters of the Leni-Kiko tandem) to continue the fight and not lose hope. Big mass actions were also held in Naga City and Mabinay, Negros Oriental last May 10.

On May 13, four thousand trooped to the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City where the Comelec was then holding the first day of official canvassing. The march served as culmination of the 3-day camp-out. Earlier, church and religious people held a prayer rally near the PICC to call for the defense of democracy.

The same night, supporters of the Leni-Kiko tandem gathered in the Ateneo de Manila in Quezon City for a thanksgiving program. Leni Robredo announced during the program their plan to establish the Angat Buhay NGO, which she said would be the “largest volunteer network in the country.” Meanwhile, she pledged to “look into” the election irregularities, but at the same time, said that they should accept that the results were “not in their favor.”

Apart from protests in Metro Manila, the youth also led protests in the cities of Baguio, Naga, Iloilo, Bacolod, Cebu, Davao and the provinces of Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Bulacan, Pampanga, Zambales, Balanga and Mariveles in Bataan, Batangas, Quezon, Laguna, Aklan, Leyte, Negros Oriental, and Zamboanga. Overseas Filipino youth also protested in Boston and New York City in the US.

Dirtiest elections in history spark protests