No Moving on When Democracy is Threatened with Elitist, Authoritarian Politics

May 25, 2022

by IBON Foundation

Statement by the Educators Forum for Development (EFD)

Filipino educators join the mounting calls of concerned citizens, communities and people’s organizations for the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to not dismiss and instead to seriously investigate reports of fraud, disinformation, disenfranchisement, and vote-buying in the 2022 national elections.

The EFD asserts that the Comelec’s response is critical in earning the trust of the people in the credibility of the elections, which is one of the Filipino people’s major means in shaping the country’s governance.

We question the Comelec’s declaration of the 2022 elections as successful, despite reports by poll watch groups such as Kontra Daya and Vote Report PH of about 1,371 incidences of machine errors from Luzon to Mindanao, along with 387 cases of illegal campaigning, 137 of vote buying, and 94 of red-tagging, particularly against opposition candidates such as the Makabayan party-list bloc.

The government has been quick in dismissing these reports, saying that the over 2,000 vote counting machines (VCM) that broke down and were defective comprise not even 1% of total machines. The poll body also defended the fast transmission of election results as a product of its own reforms following the 2019 elections.

But this is not an adequate response, as the automated election system remains far from being transparent and accountable. Slow VCM replacement in some polls for example compromised the right of suffrage of many voters.

Massive disinformation, vote-buying, and red-tagging have aggravated the fraudulent 2022 elections. The imbalance between the triumphant report of the Comelec, with the dubious historic votes gained by leading presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on one hand, and the treacherous trail of deceit and violence against opposition groups in which negative historical revisionism has been a large aspect on the other hand, provides not just doubt but grave concern about the future of Philippine democracy.

As both educators and Filipinos, part of our responsibility is to teach and facilitate our students – the next generation – to become defenders of truth, rights and people’s welfare. Elections are an important feature of democracy, as well as other forms of public action and civic engagement.

A healthy democracy is dependent on a free citizenry. This cannot happen under a system controlled by elitist, authoritarian interests, which the 2022 elections never changed. On our part, there is no moving on from this.  Neither is there a sublime acceptance of the results. We will not rest until the issues are addressed.