Fear of fraudulant Philippines elections mount

A multinational firm doing intelligence work for a host of embassies and some of the world’s top corporations in Manila reports there are signs the Philippines’ first automated balloting on May 10 would likely fail.

In a paper entitled “Assessing 2010 Elections Automation in the Philippines,” Pacific Strategies and Assessments (PSA) said it had found 14 danger signs that the elections were bound to run into a wall of problems, or worse, completely fail.

The paper, submitted to PSA clients that include top US officials in Manila, said that the Arroyo administration was doing very little to assure people of fair and honest elections and might even benefit from failed elections.

“The automation project has been a sideshow to the ongoing shenanigans of sitting President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who is trying to dominate the Lower House after the 2010 elections,” the PSA paper said.

“There is widespread suspicion that Arroyo will somehow capitalize on automated elections problems or failure to advance her and her family’s interests and perpetuate herself in power,” it said.

This is not an isolated fear.

Republican Congressman Ed Royce, who presented Arroyo with the Teddy Roosevelt International Conservation Award April 13 in Washington, expressed his worries at a dinner after the event.

Royce also told the president Filipino-American voters were worried their absentee ballots won't be counted.

“What I'm trying to do is to engage on these issues, express the concerns of Filipino-Americans, make certain that the embassy's aware of it, that the president's aware of it. Find out what steps are being taken, we've got a team that had been invited so I'm just doing the due diligence to see what steps we can take," said Royce.

He says Arroyo assured him of the efficiency and transparency in the absentee voting process.

Royce represents California's 40th district, which includes Orange County, where many Filipinos live. He's also a senior member of the House sub-committee on Asia.

Other US lawmakers have also voiced concerns about the upcoming Philippine presidential elections, especially after Fil-Am businesswoman Loida Nicolas Lewis met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and told her about the need to send top-level election monitors to the Philippines.

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