Manila – The Ecumenical Bishops Forum (EBF) has urged President Duterte to answer allegations of manipulating the results of the 2019 mid-term elections through the Commissions on Elections (Comelec) to favor the administration candidates.
“He must disprove that he coerced and coopted the Comelec to manipulate election results, as the breach in the transparency in the Smartmatic automated election system (AES) and the suspicious failure of Vote Counting Machines (VCM) are widely believed to be merely ploys to guarantee the victory of his administration’s candidates through wholesale election fraud,” the EBF in a statement said.
The group challenged the president “to answer accusations that he has engaged in, and tolerated electoral malpractices that will allow him to establish a political regime based on a concentration of power at his hands.”
“He must establish that the elections have been truly a democratic process, and that none has been disenfranchised with their essential right to suffrage and that their votes are honestly counted.”
The group had also bring the president to task by coming out clean on allegations that public funds were used to bribe voters and disbursements were made from the national coffers.
“He must also answer for the actions of state forces on the harassment and intimidation of progressive candidates and partylist organizations during the election cycle. It does not only speak of election fraud but the abuse and misuse of state powers and national coffers as well,” EBF said.
If the president cannot come out clean of the allegations, he is culpable for exacerbating rather than uplifting the state of the nation’s democracy from its present predicament.
“His failure to uphold the standards of electoral integrity will only strengthen the risk of democracy collapsing in our time which could have catastrophic consequences for everyone,” EBF said.
The group reminds the president that “any government that exercises power through fraudulent means has no moral basis; and should his government does not right its wrongs by itself, the Filipino people have the patriotic duty to do so for the preservation of our democracy.”
EBF is composed of bishops from the United Church of Christ (UCCP), United Methodist (UMC), Episcopal Church in the Philippines (ECP), Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), and the Roman Catholic Churches in the Philippines. (Mindanao Sun)