Bishop brands voter ‘training’ propaganda


Published Date: April 13, 2010 (

Bishop brands 
voter ‘training’ propaganda thumbnail
Bishop Emmanuel Cabajar of Pagadian
PAGADIAN CITY, Philippines (UCAN) — A government-run “voter education program” is using force to spread misinformation, Redemptorist Bishop Emmanuel Cabajar of Pagadian claims.

Bishop Cabajar has demanded an end to the practice of so-called hakot (hauling), where villagers are bundled into a truck and “hauled off” to a “voter education” meeting which critics say is simply propaganda and a bullying session for the mayor’s party.

He branded the activities “immoral” in a letter to authorities including Mayor Samuel Co of Pagadian, Governor Aurora Enerio Cerilles of Zamboanga del Sur province, Commission on Elections chairpersons, and police and Armed Forces heads in the area.

He said the program “encroaches on their [voters’] basic right and duty to freely follow their consciences as well as their right to free self-determination.”

The bishop asked the authorities to investigate whether public funds are being used to threaten voters.

Jewelo Barrios of Mayor Co’s office confirmed that the city and provincial governments fund hakot, but denied reported threats, abuse and misinformation.

The program “only educates voters how to use the paper ballot,” he told UCA News.

But parishioners have told Church volunteers government buses and trucks arrive in their communities day and night to haul away voters.

People ‘threatened’ into silence

A nun active in the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) told UCA News people are threatened into keeping quiet about what takes place in a hakot “assembly.”

“Not everyone is invited to attend and those who are invited are afraid to reveal what took place,” the nun, requesting anonymity, told UCA News.

“They tell us because we are friends. They do not want anyone to know who they are or what they say,” she said on April 13.

The nun said journalists are aware of hakot but five murders of media people here in recent years have made reporters “careful.”

She said that during a hakot assembly, participants are told they must vote all candidates of the Nacionalista Party to which the mayor and governor belong.

They are told that voting for other parties would cause their ballots to be invalid, a lay PPCRV volunteer told UCA News.

Some participants reported trainers “spanked their hands and head” when they marked names of candidates of other parties in trial ballots.

“We parishioners wrote the bishop to end Operation Hakot,” the lay PPCRV volunteer said. She said her group was also preparing a pilgrimage around Pagadian on April 25 and May 2 to provide correct information on how to vote.


Post a Comment

Please drop me a line: