May 8, 2014
Renato M. Reyes, Jr. BAYAN secretary general
May 10, 2014 marks exactly 10 years since the fraud-tainted 2004 elections that saw Gloria Macapagal Arroyo cheat her way to a 6-year term in Malacanang. The wholesale election fraud involving the fabrication of Election Returns and Certificates of Canvass, orchestrated by the Arroyo administration and its accomplices in Comelec, gave rise to the “Hello Garci” wiretap scandal, succeeding cover-ups of the wiretappping and the evidence of poll fraud, impeachment efforts, and a widespread protest movement that sought the ouster of Arroyo.
Many of those who helped expose the fraud and campaigned for Arroyo’s removal from office have passed on, including whistleblower Samuel Ong, former DAR secretary Horacio “Boy” Morales, activist priest Fr. Joe Dizon, former Solicitor General Frank Chavez, former DOTC undersecretary Josie Lichauco and labor leader and partylist representative Crispin Beltran.
Even under the so-called ‘daang matuwid’ of the Aquino regime, no criminal case has been brought against Arroyo and other officials complicit in the rigging of the 2004 elections. The case filed against Arroyo was for election sabotage in relation to the 2007 polls.
There has not been any real effort on the part of the current government to ascertain the actual results of the polls and determine the real extent of the cheating. With the death of Fernando Poe Jr. in December 2004, the Supreme Court acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal declared FPJ’s poll protest moot. This year also marks the 10th anniversary of the death of FPJ.
Some of the fraud operators of the 2004 elections allegedly remain in Comelec and still operate for various politicians.
None of the officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines investigated in the Mayuga Report were charged for their supposed involvement in the 2004 poll fraud. All the officials such as former AFP Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon were cleared despite testimonies by other officials pointing to the possibility of the AFP’s involvement in poll fraud.
Virgilio Garcillano, the former Comelec commissioner that Arroyo allegedly talked to in the wiretapped phone conversation, faces perjury raps for his false testimony before a congressional inquiry in 2005. However, he has not been charged with anything related to the 2004 poll fraud.
It would be good to find out how many of those who participated in the cover-up of the 2004 poll fraud are now with the administration coalition of Aquino. Apart from declassifying the Mayuga Report, President Benigno Aquino III has not made much of his campaign promise of investigating the 2004 election fraud. Aquino in fact has not made much of many of his campaign promises that included investigating extrajudicial killings under Arroyo.
The 10th anniversary of the 2004 poll fraud reminds us that justice remains elusive. Our electoral system will remain vulnerable to fraud. So long as the electoral system remains influenced and manipulated by the ruling elite, so long as vote-buying, violence and intimidation and patronage politics are the norm, the elections would never be reflective of the true will of the people. That it is not real democracy. No amount of so-called automation can correct this, especially if the automation itself lacks necessary safeguards and suffers from utter lack of transparency.
On the anniversary of the 2004 poll fraud, we reiterate our demand for accountability. We support calls for the rectification of the results of the elections to serve as a historical lesson to future generations. May we never forget and may we continue to seek accountability. ###