Biggest foreign mission to visit Pampanga, Abra, other election hot spots

Contributed by: 
People's International Observers Mission
Lubao, Pampanga, the hometown of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, will be one of the destinations of the biggest international mission to observe the 2010 elections.

Composed of delegates from Australia, Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Japan, Hongkong, Taiwan, France, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, the People’s International Observers Mission (PIOM) has officially started yesterday.

“I would like to see how people from her [Arroyo] own district feel about her performance as president of the Philippines and her candidacy for Congress, ” Rev. Larry Emery, a member of the team that will be going to Pampanga said. “Arroyo is so unpopular in the whole country. Is it any different from her own district?” Emery added.

Arroyo is running for Congress in Pampanga’s second district. Her eldest son Juan Miguel “Mikey” Arroyo, the incumbent representative of the district, is now running under the party list system as first nominee of Ang Galing Pinoy. Despite obvious grounds for disqualification, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) decided in favor of Mikey.

Another team will be going to Tarlac, the province of presidential candidates Gilbert “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. and Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

Abra, which has been marred in election-related violence since last year will also be visited by the PIOM.  The PIOM team has left Manila yesterday.

Militarized provinces in Southern Tagalog region particularly Quezon and Cavite will also be monitored. The delegates will document military activities during the elections.

In the National Capital Region, urban poor communities Tondo in Manila and Payatas in Quezon City will be visited. During the 2007 elections, soldiers were deployed in these areas not to safeguard elections but to harass organizers of progressive party-list groups.

Foreign delegates will also go to the Bicol region particularly in Albay and Sorsogon. According to human rights group Karapatan, Bicol has the most number of victims of extrajudicial killings from 2001 to 2009.

Iloilo is also one of the destinations of the mission. Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines were reportedly burned down in Miag-ao, Iloilo yesterday.

The Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), particularly in Marawi City, will also be visited. Cases of wholesale fraud have been recorded in the region in the past elections.

Other areas in Mindanao, especially the CARAGA and Davao regions, will also be visited by the team. The areas are also noted for heavy military deployment. Last year, in Surigao and Compostella Valley, residents were forced to evacuate from their homes due to military operations.

Foreign delegates are also interested in knowing how elections are conducted in a situation where there is heavy deployment of military troops.