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‘Black Friday’ protest held outside PICC over alleged electoral fraud

Last May 17, while vote canvassing for the 2019 midterm elections continued, various labor, youth, and religious groups staged a rally in front of the Philippine International Convention Center where the Commission on Elections (Comelec) was headquartered. The so-called “Black Friday” protest was held over allegations of rigging committed during the recent elections.

According to the latest partial and official results released by the Comelec, at least eight Hugpong ng Pagbabago bets are expected to win a seat in the Senate, with re-electionist Cynthia Villar leading the administration candidates.

Photo by Gershon Dela Cruz


The system problems experienced by Comelec last Monday and Tuesday became the focus of the protestors’ allegations. About 450 vote counting machines malfunctioned during election day and over 1,000 SD cards were replaced, while a “file transfer error” caused a seven-hour delay in displaying the partial and unofficial results last Monday, as explained by Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.

Protestors claimed that these consecutive incidents raised suspicion on the honesty of the electoral process. Danilo Arao, convenor of Kontra Daya, claimed the senatorial race was “the worst elections ever,” and casted doubt on Jimenez’s file transfer error explanation. He also considered the failures of vote counting machines nationwide as suspicious.

Corrupt na nga ang mga politicians natin dito, bakit corrupted na din ang SD cards?” he exclaimed. (The politicians here are already corrupt, why are the SD cards corrupt as well?)

Arao also denounced partylists that were “not for the people”, claiming that they served as vehicles for opportunists. He derided Senator Koko Pimentel and Senate President Tito Sotto’s statements proclaiming that an independent Senate will be maintained, calling the two legislators “dogs” of the Duterte administration.

Jon General, member of Panday-Sining and a former programmer, blasted the “incompetence” of Comelec. He called the tally released by Comelec as “mathematically impossible” and criticized the unofficial results as “mind-conditioning”.

Mae Paner of Movement Against Tyranny expressed her joy in seeing unity among the protestors. “Mayroon dilaw, mayroon pula,” she said.

(There are yellows and reds here.)

Paner labelled the administration bets as “eels” and vilified excessive executive control over the legislative and judicial branches. “Sagrado ba ang botong dinadaya?” she added.

(Are rigged votes sacred?)

Meanwhile, Aaron Pedrosa from Sanlakas compared the alleged electoral fraud to the “Hello Garci” scandal which rocked the administration of former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in the 2004 general elections.

‘No concession’

The rally was marked by the appearance of defeated senatorial candidates Erin Tañada, Leody De Guzman, and former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares.

Despite the electoral loss, Colmenares remained defiant, declaring that he would not concede to the cheering crowd. “Ang atake ng administrasyong Duterte sa oposisyon ay matindi,” he said, denouncing the allegations thrown by the administration.

(The attack of the Duterte administration against the opposition is tremendous.)

“It’s no longer just about us—Otso Diretso, Labor Win, Ka-Leody. It’s about [the freedom] to choose our leaders in society,” Colmenares stated, before again declaring, “We will not concede!”

Other personalities present during the event were Kabataan party-list representative Sarah Elago, Bayan Muna partylist nominee Ferdinand Gaites, student activist Sean Thakur, Let’s Organize for Democracy and Integrity member and columnist Tonyo Cruz, Bayan Secretary-General Renato Reyes, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas Secretary-General Danilo Ramos, and other representatives from aligned organizations.

At the end of the event, the crowd cheered, “Ang tao, ang Bayan, lumalaban.

(The people, the country, are fighting.)

Gershon De La Cruz

By Gershon De La Cruz

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