Miraya B. De Dios
THE decisive May 2022 National Elections was no less chaotic and tension-filled than what one would expect in a clash between the son of a dictator, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., and the lone female opposition, incumbent Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.
On the big day, more than a thousand vote-counting machines (VCMs) were reported to have encountered issues or were completely defective, which led to massive delays and long queues in precincts throughout the country. According to various reports and social media posts, voters had to wait no less than two hours in order to cast their votes.
This was no less true in my own precinct in Marikina City. I encountered my cousin there, who had been waiting in line for three hours. While scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, many shared their own testimonies of having to wait hours in their precincts due to defective machines and other complications. As I was boarding a bus back to Baguio on the same day, one picture particularly stood out to me. It was a dim classroom full of weary and fatigued voters, waiting to cast their ballots themselves, despite the onset of the night. Millions of Filipinos came to exercise their right to vote, amidst the sweltering weather, the long wait, and the potential loss of income for daily wage earners. Some woke up and queued even before sunrise. Senior citizens and PWD voters endured despite the myriad of difficulties.
It was all the more enraging to witness the blatant fraudulence that occurred on election day. Numerous defective VCMs, video evidence of countless tampered and/or destroyed ballots, and claims of mismatched receipts, are just a few of what we were able to document. And lo and behold, within 24 hours, the COMELEC transparency server showed the latest tally with Marcos Jr. at a clear lead over Robredo. The transmission of votes was as smooth as butter it seems, despite intercepted signals and various irregularities. It was a good friend of mine who said – before I traveled back to Metro Manila on the eve of May 6 – that after the elections, “Sunod sunod na mga rally niyan.” Who knew his prediction would come true?
I immediately returned to Baguio, where a quick mobilization was already organized the following day. The same week would see a series of mobilizations demanding accountability from the COMELEC and all state forces, who had a hand in this massive cheat. That Friday, multi-sectoral groups staged protests nationwide, denouncing the results. In Baguio, progressive youth organizations marched down the historic Session Road, chanting “Never Again to Martial Law!” At a particularly tense juncture, a crowd had gathered at the footbridge near Malcolm Square. “BBM! BBM! BBM!” They countered.
It would be easy to point fingers at fellow Filipinos for the Marcoses’ return to power. Often, the judgment is meted on the lower class, the masa, who make up the most number of voters but are deemed ‘uneducated’ to know better. This is a slap in the face to the millions of Filipino farmers, workers, urban poor, IPs, and other marginalized sectors who tirelessly supported Leni-Kiko. Again, the poor are made scapegoats for the failures and abuses of those in power. But they too are victims of the Marcos disinformation machine in the game of rehabilitating the Marcos name. This took years in the making, distorting history through print, media, and now online propaganda. Now more than ever, we must stand together, arouse and organize even those we deem are ‘against’ us, and build alliances to expand the struggle and prevent another Marcos-Duterte dictatorship. Never forget and never again to Martial Law!