Armed men on Facebook vow death to poll cheats
A group of armed men wearing military uniforms has come out on video threatening government officials and others who would tamper with the May 9 elections with death if the “true will of the people is thwarted.”
In particular, the masked group made threats against Commission on Elections Chair Andres Bautista and vote counting machine supplier Smartmatic Inc. in a three-minute video posted on the Facebook page of Tamaraw Riders on Thursday afternoon.
A man in front read a lengthy message which included a jarring threat—they were ready to kill and die for the Filipino people.
“We address this to Bautista and the Comelec commissioners, the Smartmatic and the government that death will be meted to anyone who prevents the true will of the people from coming out in the elections,” the spokesperson said in Filipino.
Behind him, the others held up an upside-down Filipino flag, the red field on top indicating the country was at war.
The group said the country was in a state of war, trampling on the essence of democracy, which is the sanctity of the ballot.
The group alluded to a supposed collusion to cheat in favor of administration candidates between the Comelec and Smartmatic.
“We will not allow the Comelec to mock the true feelings of the Filipino people… we will not allow fake leaders not truly elected by the people due to the conspiracy between Comelec and Smartmatic,” the group said.
Polling and other firms were not spared.
“We also warn firms conducting surveys not to confuse and mislead the people because of big money; you too will be punished with death. Our goal is to take care of the rights and welfare of the Filipino people,” the group said.
The group did not identify itself but, apart from the uniforms, it implied it was part of the military, citing the constitutional mandate to protect Philippine sovereignty and the integrity of its territory.
“We were formed and forged from the select ranks of nationalist Filipino warriors, formed as protectors of your rights and welfare,” they said.
Sought for comment, the Armed Forces of the Philippines said it was determining the identities of the men in the video.
“They may be wearing military uniforms but it cannot be ascertained if they are legitimate members of the military… we are confident they are not real soldiers,” said AFP public affairs chief Col. Noel Detoyato.
He said the video could be part of political propaganda to discredit the military, which is duty-bound to be nonpartisan in elections.
“At this point in time, there are so many groups doing all kinds of propaganda. They may be pretending to be soldiers to implicate the military but we have very strict instructions [to the troops] to be nonpartisan,” Detoyato said. Julie M. Aurelio
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