“Tuloy ang laban, tuloy ang laban ng sambayanang Pilipino! (The fight continues, the fight of the Filipino people continues!)”
Chants calling to hold the Commission on Elections (Comelec) accountable for the alleged “blitzkrieg” electoral fraud reverberated outside the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) along Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City on Friday, May 13, as thousands of protesters aired their grievances related to the 2022 elections.
The protesters were supposed to march to the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) where the Comelec en banc sits as the National Board of Canvassers but they were blocked by civil disturbance management (CDM) contingents from the Philippine National Police (PNP).
Holding placards and banners, the rallyists faced the anti-riot cops and staged a “Black Friday” program around 10:30 a.m. as they rejected the impending victory of presidential and vice presidential tandem of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte-Carpio, who are both leading in the partial and official tally of the Comelec.
Among those who spoke at the program was defeated senatorial candidate and human rights lawyer Neri Colmenares, who questioned the quick transmission of votes on the first day of the elections, which the Comelec attributed to the “good preparation” of the poll body.
“Blitzkrieg ang nangyari, pinakamabilis at pinakamalaking numero ang pumasok noong unang araw. Naalala ko ilang araw tayong naghihintay para malaman kung sinong nanalo kay Biden at Trump. Aba’y mas magaling ang Comelec natin pala ano. Isang araw lang (What happened was a blitzkrieg, it was the fastest and biggest [transmission] of numbers that came in on the first day. I remember we waited for several days to know who won between [US presidential candidates Joe] Biden and [Donald] Trump. Well our Comelec is way better than them. We only waited for one day),” Colmenares said.
He also pointed out that hundreds to thousands of vote counting machines (VCMs) malfunctioned on the election day, which affected millions of voters.
Aside from that, the human rights lawyer claimed that the automated election is “non-transparent.”
Colmenares said that under the Philippine Constitution, there are two basic elements to the public’s right to suffrage: secret voting and public counting.
“Pero ang nangyayari sa automated system, public voting at secret counting (But what happens in the automated system is public voting and secret counting),” he said.
He cited several situations in areas that the VCMs malfunctioned where voters had to leave their ballots and the board of election inspectors will be the ones to feed their ballots.
Colmenares also echoed the cries of the protest groups that attended the rally to condemn vote-buying, disinformation, red-tagging, irresponsible use of public funds, and trolling.
“Ang tanong nina Marcos at Duterte, tapos na ang eleksyon ano pang problema niyo? (Marcos Jr. and Duterte were asking us: the elections are done, what’s your problem?),” Colmenares said.
“Siguro tayo ang magtatanong kay Marcos at Duterte, wala ba kayong nakitang problema? Bakit kami ang tinatanong niyo kung anong problema namin? Iyong inilahad naming ganyan tingin niyo hindi problema ‘yun? (Maybe we should ask Marcos and Duterte, don’t you see any problems? Why are you asking us what’s our problem? What we laid out here, don’t you think these are problems?),” he asked.
Lt. Col. Jenny Tecson, spokesperson of the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), said the protests went “peaceful and orderly.”
The protests, which were attended by around 4,000 individuals according to local organizers, dispersed around 11:30 a.m.
“Naging mapayapa at maayos ang nangyaring programa ng mga militante at kabataan na nagvoice out ng kanilang hinaing or grievances. Masasabi natin na sila po ay sumunod sa usapan (The program went peaceful and orderly and the militants and youths were able to voice out their grievances. We can say that they followed what was agreed upon),” Tecson told the Manila Bulletin.
On the part of the police, Tecson said four companies of anti-riot cops and civil disturbance management (CDM) personnel were deployed around PICC to block the protesters from advancing.
Augmentation forces from the Philippine Air Force and Philippine Army’s Joint Task Force NCR were also fielded on the ground.