May 2022 polls failed to meet int'l standards – election observers

Published June 29, 2022, 12:18 PM

by Dhel Nazario

Workers check the printed official ballots to be used for the upcoming 2022 National and Local Elections at the National Printing Office (NPO) in Quezon City (MARK BALMORES / MANILA BULLETIN)

The country’s recent May 2022 polls failed to meet the international standard of a free, honest and fair election, according to a global human rights group.

The International Observer Mission said in its report that the recent national elections were “marred by a higher level of failure” of the electronic voting system than ever before, along with a “higher level of blatant vote-buying.”

It added that it was also marked with a “disturbing” level of red-tagging and a number of incidents of deadly violence.

“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 (VCM), thus undermining the secrecy of the vote,” IOM stated in its report.

It added that vote counting was “neither transparent nor reliable” because of the failure of so many VCMs.

It also mentioned that the declared vote count was not credible as well because of the “unbelievable” speed in the transmission of election returns, the “extraordinary loss” of almost 900,000 votes by the Bayan Muna Partylist, and the election of only one opposition senatorial candidate, Risa Hontiveros, out of 12 Senate positions up for election.

Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), who were the first to cast their votes, according to IOM, faced voter suppression, disenfranchisement and other obstacles to voting. As a result, only 480,000 voted out of almost 1.7 million registered voter OFWs, it added.

IOM attributed the failure of the VCMs is the responsibility of Smartmatic USA Corp and its partner SMMT-TIM 2016 Inc, stating that they already faced credibility issues after alleged poll irregularities in past Philippine elections (such as a delayed transmission of results to the transparency server).

“Smartmatic is less than 60 percent Filipino-owned, thus not meeting the requirement of the Philippine Constitution. Domestic forwarding company F2 Logistics, associated with the Uy family who were major financiers of the Duterte 2016 campaign, were awarded the contracts for delivery of all election paraphernalia,” IOM said.

Meanwhile it disclosed that election-related violations of human rights began in January with the first political killings related to the elections taking place in Sorsogon, Bicol Region, on January 15.

IOM said that these violations took the form of political killings, shootings, abductions, death threats, political arrests and detention, harassment and surveillance of candidates and supporters, very large-scale red-tagging.