Sep 222014
 

http://wikileaks.org/cable/2008/08/08MANILA1930.html#
Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08MANILA1930
2008-08-12 09:13
2011-08-30 01:44
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Manila

VZCZCXRO8450
OO RUEHCHI RUEHCN RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHML #1930/01 2250913
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 120913Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANILA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1593
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC IMMEDIATE
RHHMUNA/CDRUSPACOM HONOLULU HI IMMEDIATE
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 001930

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MTS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/12/2009
TAGS: PTER MOPS PINS PGOV PHUM RP
SUBJECT: FIRST EVER AUTOMATED ARMM ELECTIONS PEACEFUL, EFFICIENT

REF: MANILA 1696 (LOCAL ELECTIONS IN MUSLIM MINDANAO
IMPACT PEACE PROCESS)

Classified By: Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney
for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

¶1. (C) SUMMARY. Thanks to new automated voting procedures,
the regional elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim
Mindanao (ARMM) August 11 turned out more peaceful, clean,
and efficient than previous polls and an estimated 60 percent
of the 1.5 million registered voters turned out to cast their
votes. Independent commentators noted the ease brought about
by full automation of the voting and counting processes,
notwithstanding technical glitches that were effectively
overcome. Poll results will be announced late on August 12
or August 13, though few doubt that incumbent Governor Zaldy
Ampatuan will win reelection. Commission on Elections
(COMELEC) Chairman Jose Melo reported that the 60 percent
voter turnout exceeded the expected average of 30-40 percent
in previous elections and, in a clear break from the past,
there was only one election-related incident of violence
reported. While the ARMM elections served as a good dress
rehearsal for the technical aspects of running an automated
national election and provided COMELEC an excellent idea of
the problems and issues the Philippines is likely to face in
2010, these elections provided little insight on whether
automation will reduce vote buying and other irregularities,
as the outcome has never been in question given the Ampatuan
clan’s dominance of ARMM politics. END SUMMARY.

AUTOMATION A “SMASHING SUCCESS”
——————————-

¶2. (U) Initial commentary on the effectiveness of automation
was entirely positive, both from government officials and
civil society. Senator Richard Gordon, the chair of the
electoral reforms committee in the Senate, called the pilot
exercise in fully automated elections a “smashing success”
that augured well for the 2010 presidential elections.
Electoral reform advocate Henrietta de Villa, who heads the
Church-based poll watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for
Responsible Voting, something of an institution in Philippine
elections, called the ARMM elections a “significant
improvement” over previous elections and expressed optimism
that the country was “on the road to more credible and
peaceful elections.”

ISOLATED INCIDENTS MAR POLLS
—————————-

¶3. (U) COMELEC reported that there were isolated incidents
that marred the polls. A day prior to the elections, Muslim
insurgents attempted to confiscate election paraphernalia and
disrupt the polls in Lamitan City, Basilan Province, but were
effectively foiled by the military, leaving one rebel dead.
In two villages in Sumisip town, also in Basilan Province,
unidentified armed men snatched ballot boxes from election
officers who were on their way to the polling precincts.
COMELEC, which declared a failure of elections in the two
villages with a total of 1,896 voters, may yet call for
special elections there, depending on the town’s election
results. A second case of ballot snatching was reported in
Barira town, Maguindanao province, but authorities were able
to recover the boxes and elections pushed through. Voting in
18 polling precincts in Akbar town, also in Basilan, was
delayed after election officers refused to work following a
shoot-out in the area. COMELEC was forced to deputize
several policemen and civil servants to act as election
officers. There were also isolated reports of vote-buying in
Basilan.

ADDRESSING TECHNICAL GLITCHES
—————————–

¶4. (U) Anticipating technical glitches, COMELEC and
technology providers were quick to troubleshoot problems
encountered in some voting and canvassing centers. Stand-by
generators quickly solved the power outages, particularly in
Sulu province. Also, the election officers manning the
polling precincts readily assisted voters who were not
familiar with the new voting system.

COMMENT
——-

¶5. (C) The relatively high turnout for these first-ever

MANILA 00001930 002 OF 002

automated elections was a very positive result. Voters
appeared to like the new technology and seemed to find it
easy to use. The “curiosity factor” may also have encouraged
many people who might otherwise have stayed home to come out
and vote. According to observers, voting procedures at
precincts were implemented more or less according to
established rules, but there were some isolated unconfirmed
reports of vote buying, vote tampering, and voters brought in
to vote from other precincts. While the elections served as
a good dress rehearsal for the technical aspects of running
an automated national election and provided COMELEC an
excellent idea of the problems and issues the Philippines is
likely to face in 2010, these elections provided little
insight on whether automation will help reduce vote buying,
vote tampering, and other irregularities. The outcome of the
elections has never been in question given the Ampatuan
clan’s dominance of ARMM elections.
KENNEY

   

 

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