Senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares said today that he will not concede despite languishing in the polls because the government allegedly played unfairly to ensure that candidates like him would lose in this week’s midterm election.
Partial and unofficial results from the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) show that Colmenares, an activist and candidate of the Makabayan bloc, is at 24th place with 4,606,140 votes as of 2pm today. Only 12 Senate seats are available.
“How can I concede to a rotten electoral exercise that has basically deceived, bribed, intimidated and manipulated our people into electing the worst kinds of leaders imaginable? I cannot,” he said in a statement that appeared on his official Facebook account today.
“It would have been easy to concede had I lost in a fair and honest elections (sic). But this year’s elections were hardly fair or honest.”
Colmenares alleged that the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) conducted illegal partisan activities against his party in the national and local level. He also said that on election day itself, the PNP was caught giving away materials which painted Makabayan and other groups in a negative light.
Facebook user Obet De Castro posted photos of the tabloid Pulis Serbis Balita, which were allegedly being given away on election day in Tondo, Manila. The netizen said they were black propaganda against leftist groups and that the tabloids allegedly came from Camp Crame.
In an interview with The Philippine Daily Inquirer, Colmenares alleged that the tabloids contained articles denouncing leftist groups belonging to the Makabayan bloc such as Bayan Muna and Kabataan.
Colmenares slammed President Rodrigo Duterte’s government for allegedly using its own resources to promote its allies. Prior to election day, Duterte hit the campaign trail, where he introduced his allies to the public and attacked his critics in speeches.
“We saw how government resources, funds, and facilities were used to promote pro-administration candidates, especially those favored by the President. We saw how the rules – from postering and other campaign activities to widespread vote buying – were being flouted with impunity up to election day, and the COMELEC seemingly blind or helpless about it,” Colmenares said.
“We saw how the President, using his presidential platform, led the vilification of the opposition and progressive candidates, dishing out insults and lies at every opportunity… And vote buying was justified by the highest official of the land.”
Colmenares was referring to Duterte’s interview on Monday where the president said that vote-buying is integral to Philippine politics and that there is no politician who doesn’t buy votes.
The senatorial candidate also mentioned how many of the vote-counting machines failed on election day and expressed skepticism about the accuracy of vote counting after the COMELEC stopped sending updates to the media for at least seven hours.
However, members of the COMELEC have denied that fraud occurred during the election.
“[T]here were unprecedented failures in the vote counting machines and SD cards used to run those machines,” Colmenares said. “In the evening, we saw how the transmitted results were withheld from the public for seven hours on some flimsy technical glitch that had never happened in the past three automated elections. Many of us slept and woke up to the TV screen showing 12 winning senators, not knowing what happened.”
During election day, Colmenares was interviewed on radio station DZMM where he accused some netizens of spreading the false news that his party was disqualified by the COMELEC.
On Tuesday, his relative actress Angel Locsin slammed rumors that Colmenares is a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
“It’s the lies and black propaganda I don’t understand. If you don’t believe in him don’t vote for him. Spreading lies and destroying the reputation of someone with pure intentions is what I don’t agree with,” Locsin wrote on Twitter.