Concerns mount over risk of electoral fraud in 2023 BSKE
October 19, 2023 | 7:09pm
MANILA, Philippines — Election watchdog Kontra Daya has cautioned against the possibility of the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections turning into a “hotbed for both traditional and electronic means of electoral fraud” due to long-standing issues with transparency in the polls.
In a statement, Kontra Daya stressed that historically, barangay polls have been a “source of corruption, nepotism, and political infighting,” making it likely that vote-buying and various forms of voter coercion will be rampant in the BSKE.
The 10-day official campaign period for the October 30 BSKE started on Thursday.
“Bitter rivalries between dynasties translate to political harassment and violence between rival candidates. Entrenched political families at the municipal and provincial level use their power and money to ensure that their relatives, both old and new to politics, are elected to key positions in government,” Kontra Daya said.
The rise of social media in political campaigning is also expected to intensify the pre-election atmosphere, with early campaigning, black propaganda, and disinformation campaigns likely to target candidates, Kontra Daya added.
Show cause orders have been served to nearly 7,000 BSKE candidates accused of campaigning before the official campaign period began, Comelec Chairperson George Garcia said. The poll body has not yet received any complaints related to vote-buying.
Kontra Daya also criticized the poll body’s move to trial run its automated election system in select barangays in Quezon City and Cavite.
“We believe that instituting an automated system in the BSKE will only worsen electoral fraud, as the current AES is designed to make electronic fraud easier to hide,” Kontra Daya said.
The group underscored that “lingering doubts” have yet to be answered regarding the conduct of the 2022 national elections.
Garcia said this week that he is proposing a manual recount of the ballots used for the 2022 elections to settle “once and for all” whether irregularities had led to its outcome.
— Cristina Chi