Off-beam, Ms. Severine

Off-beam, Ms. Severine

We have no beef against foreigners trying to observe how we Filipinos conduct our elections. But visiting firemen should have a jar of the kind of culture we have on how we choose our leaders and, in all cases, should present an image of objectivity.

We have long been on the observation nooks of bleachers and ringside on how these so-called experts raise their own impressions and monitoring, aided by their partisan local partners, experts who consider malevolent phrases by their partners as the endmost research they need to make an impeccably perfect paragraph.

For instance, very recently, and some mainstream media quoted lavishly the report, Belgian parliamentarian Severine De Laveleye, said in the interim report of the International Observer Mission or IOM that the May 9 general elections, where former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who led in all surveys as from the start of the 90-day campaign, was “not free and fair.”

The IOM was launched by the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines on Feb. 7, a day before the 90-day campaign period officially started in this Southeast Asian republic of 110 million people, with more than 60 million registered and qualified voters, as a response to InvestigatePH’s recommendation in 2021 and to monitor the 2022 elections.

De Laveleye, an IOM commissioner, said the election was “marred by a higher level of failure of the electronic voting system than ever before,” saying these were likewise observed:

• Rampant vote-buying
• Disturbing levels of state and military-orchestrated red-tagging
• Incidents of deadly violence

Rampant vote-buying? Was it spreading like wildfire, Ms. Severine? Or was this just fed to you and your team by obvious partisans whose color you failed to see?

Then she reports disturbing levels of state and military-orchestrated red-tagging as if there was something inherently wrong in this without any similar phrase on the attacks of chasers against the surveys frontrunner, the kind that would make the likes of people with good manners and right conduct to throw up incessantly, as ceaselessly or nonstop as the acidulated and sardonic comments are made during political rallies.

Incidents of deadly violence. The number 27 reported by the Commission on Elections makes incidents, but the way the IOM made it appear was that there were incidents of deaths in practically every community in the country.

And yet the IOM wizards, who hit the ground in April to do their impartial monitoring, or at least that’s what they should have done in the first place, never had a word on the kind of character assassination the chasers used in godforsaken fashion.

Or they deliberately shut their eyes to all this, seeing only the images their local partners raised within their eye range – not even as minute a reference to the kind that some politicians have stooped down to the level of political strategies that included blasphemy and efforts to win sympathy with terminal patients wheeled to a political rally in the metropolis.

The report, released on May 19, was based on six IOM Bulletins issued since March, compiled from documentation made by international observers, reports from overseas Filipinos, background from IOM’s local partner Kontra Daya and the team of writers who monitored the mainstream media – come on, were they non-partisan to merit objectivity and accuracy? — and what partisans describe as credible online output.

The IOM said the election “did not meet the standard of free and fair [election] because of these prevailing conditions that robbed the voters of access to reliable information, access to the voting places without intimidation, and a credible vote-counting system.”

De Laveleye said the widespread irregularities and violence undermined the democratic process that “took place in the most repressive context since the time of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.”

Even the language Ms. Severine used is too familiar as an echo from local partners against the now presumptive president.

Dr. Maria Lourdes Jarabe, a convenor of Kontra Daya, said “it is actually difficult for voters to be confident in election proceedings marred by machine errors and breakdowns as these cast doubt on the capacity of the machine to count their votes.”

Kontra Daya, together with VoteReportPH, gathered reports involving machine errors, illegal campaigning, vote-buying, and red-tagging. Jarabe said they received more than 9,000 reports and they were able to verify 2,927.

Let’s face it.

Did the IOM experts ever ask the government’s election watchdog, the Commission on Elections, what it had to say on the reports submitted by their local partners?

We could be late at the front steps before the door was slammed shut on us.

As far as we can gather, the IOM never tried to get the side of the accused characters.

Fairness, a virtue we believe is present in every civilized society when there are several sides as in the concluded May 9 elections, has been absent from the demeanor – from where we are – of the IOM experts.

Waarom de haast, Ms. Silverine? (What’s the hurry, Ms. Severine?)


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