Speech delivered by Anakbayan Toronto Chairperson, Sherald Sanchez, on Monday, May 9th 2022 in front of the Philippine Consulate in Toronto.
Mayroon pong kasabihan na, “Forewarned is forearmed.” Una’t sapul pa lang, nasabihan na po tayo na may mangyayaring kaduda-duda sa eleksyon. Mula sa pag-appoint ng COMELEC Commissioner na pinili ni Rodrigo Duterte at sa contractor ng mga VCM o vote counting machines na katoto din niya, hanggang sa Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms na pinangungunahan ni Imee Marcos. Dito makikita natin ang isang network ng panlilinlang sa lahat ng antas ng gobyerno: judicial katulad ng COMELEC na dapat walang kinikilingan, legislative katulad ng senado na dapat nagpapasapatupad ng matapat na pagbabago, at syempre ang executive branch ng Malacañang. Forewarned is forearmed, pero mahirap pa din po pala kapag nangyari na.
Nitong umaga, paggising ko, napakaraming reports na pumapasok ukol sa iba’t ibang cases ng voter disenfranchisement, vote buying, voter intimidation, at iyon pang mga VCM o vote counting machines na hindi gumagana. Huwag po nating kalimutan na ito ang pinakamahal na eleksyon ng kasaysayan ng bansa natin. Si Rodrigo Duterte po mismo ang nag-approve ng P26.7 billion, o $682 million CAD, upang i-COVID-proof kuno ang mga vote counting machines. Anong nangyari? 1,800 na VCMs ang nag-malfunction! Isa itong record-breaking number. Sa kabila ng record-breaking budget, record-breaking pa din ang kapalpakan. Anong nangyari? Ito ang tanong ng mga kababayan nating naghintay at tumayo mula 4 hours hanggang 12 hours sa ibang lugar, para masiguro na makakaboto sila at mabibilang ang boto nila. Ngayon, humihingi tayo sa COMELEC na i-extend nila ang voting period. Tayo pa po ang nakikiusap. Sa paningin ko, binibigyan natin ng isa pang pagkakataon ang COMELEC para dinggin ang boses ng masang Pilipino. Hindi po natin kailangang ipang-limos ang karapatan nating madinig ng sarili nating gobyerno. Kasama na dyan iyong mga opisyales ng konsulado sa taas.
Bukod pa dito, may mga reports ng overseas voting ballots na pre-shaded na dumating. Ang Konta Daya sa Pilipinas nakatanggap ng over 3,500 na iba’t ibang instansiya ng kamalian at pandaraya. May mga presinto na pinapasok ng mga pulis at armadong militar na binubuksan ang mga VCMs. This is an election violation. Armed personnel are prohibited from being within 50m of polling precincts. As we stand here, mayroon pa ding mga kababayan dito sa Canada at sa ibang lugar abroad na hindi pa din nakatanggap ng mga mail-in ballots nila.
Anong nangyayari? Ito po ang tanong natin. Forewarned is forearmed. So, ano po ang ginawa natin?
Nag-establish tayo ng Koalisyon Kontra Daya. As we speak, may mga kasama po tayong nasa taas ng konsulado bilang election observers at poll watchers. Buong linggo na po silang nandyan, mula alas sais ng umaga hanggang gabi.
Anong magagawa natin? Lalaban tayo. Hindi tayo susuko.
Tayong mga nandito sa Canada, meron tayong magagawa. Simula kagabi nang pumasok ang mga boto, mayroon nang mga usapan sa social media ng mga kababayang nagpa-planong umalis ng bansa dahil sa resulta ng eleksyon na ito. Mayroong mga kababayan dito sa Toronto na nag-uusap tungkol sa pagde-denounce ng dual citizenship as Filipino. Naiintindihan ko po iyang reflex na iyan, pero HINDI PO ITO TAMA. Hindi po natin dapat tinatanggap na hanggang dito lang ang magagawa natin. Ito ang limitasyon ng labanang elektoral. Pero sa usapang people power, walang hindi makakamit kung sama-sama tayo. Hindi natin kailangang maghintay para sa tapat na bukas, tayo mismo, ngayon, ang magsasapatupad ng pag-angat buhay ng lahat. Ang gobyernong tapat, nakasalalay sa ating lahat! Huwag tayong magsisihan, kailangang maging mapagbantay at iyong focus natin sa tunay na kalaban.
Kaming mga kabataan natututong manaliksik, maging mapanuri, at ipaglaban ang katotohanan at ang bayan! Isipin natin, sino po ba ang may pera at koneksyon sa gobyerno para mag-orchestrate ng ganitong lebel ng pagnanakaw ng demokrasya. Sila ang tunay nating kalaban. Huwag po nating kalimutan iyong nagawa natin nitong eleksyon. Tumindig tayo kahit mahirap, kahit mukhang imposible. We must take a stand, even when it’s difficult, even when it feels impossible. Especially when it’s difficult. Though many are feeling sad and disappointed, I’ve seen the most politicized and compassionate movement of youth supporters during this election. Nothing and no one can take that away from us.
The outcome of this election will decide who lives and who dies in our country. It will decide the fate of the War on Drugs, how we respond to future disasters, what we do about the pandemic, about joblessness, and a worsening economic crisis that affects working-class and impoverished Filipinos the most. Totoo po ito. Nagsisimula pa lang po ang pinakamahalaga nating gawain. Sana sama-sama tayong magpatuloy sa pagsasamahang nabuo natin dito.
Sa pagtatapos, isang paalala at panawagan: “do not go gently into the night. Rage against the dying of the light.”
The people united, will never be defeated. Makibaka, huwag matakot.
1 – Mula sa interview kay Professor Nicole Curato sa CNN Philippines (Mayo 9, 2022)
2 – Mula sa tulang “Do not go gentle into that good night” ni Dylan Thomas noong 1947
There’s a saying, “Forewarned is forearmed.” From the very beginning, we were told that there will be discrepancies in this election. From the appointment of the COMELEC Commissioner handpicked by Rodrigo Duterte and the contractor of VCMs or vote counting machines who is a crony of his, up to the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms headed by none other than Imee Marcos. Here we see a network of deception at all levels of government: judicial in the form of the COMELEC whose duty is to be impartial, legislative embodied by the senate tasked to implement conscientious change, and of course the executive branch composed mainly of the Malacañang Palace. Forewarned is forearmed, but it doesn’t make it any less when it actually happens.
This morning, I woke up to so many reports of various cases of voter disenfranchisement, vote buying, voter intimidation, and malfunctioning VCMs or vote counting machines. Let us not forget that this is the most expensive election in the history of our country. Rodrigo Duterte himself approved P26.7 billion, or $682 million CAD, to allegedly COVID-proof these vote counting machines. But, what happened? 1,800 VCMs malfunctioned! This is a record-breaking number. Even with a record-breaking budget, the incompetence was still record-breaking. What happened? This is the question being asked by our fellow Filipinos who waited and stood for 4 hours up to 12 hours in some places, if only to make sure that they could cast their vote and that their votes would be counted. Currently, we are asking for the COMELEC to extend the voting period. The way I see it, we the people, who the COMELEC vowed to serve, are giving them a second chance to perform their duty to the people. We should not have to beg for our government to hear and uphold our right to vote. This includes the officials here at the Philippine Consulate General in Toronto.
Additionally, there have been reports of people and precincts receiving pre-shaded overseas voting ballots. Kontra Daya in the Philippines has received over 3,500 various instances of improper and fraudulent activities. Police and military forces were spotted insisting on entering voting premises and opening VCMs. This is an election violation! Armed personnel are prohibited from being within 50 meters of polling precincts. As we stand here today, there are still kababayans in Canada, and in other places abroad, who have yet to receive their mail-in ballots.
What is happening? This is what we want to know. Forewarned is forearmed. So, what did we do about it?
We established the Coalition Against Fraud. As we speak, we have kasamas upstairs inside the consulate acting as election observers and poll watchers. They’ve been there all week from six in the morning until late at night.
What can we do? We will fight. We will never give up.
Those of us here in Canada can do something. On social media, there have been countless stories of Filipinos back home talking about leaving the country to escape the results of the election. Here in Toronto, Filipinos with dual citizenship are talking about renouncing their Filipino citizenship. I understand this reflex, but THIS IS NOT RIGHT. We cannot and should not accept that this is the solution to our country’s problems. This only highlights the limitations of electoral politics. But when we tap onto our People Power, there is nothing we cannot achieve when we are united. We never need to wait for a better tomorrow. We the people, right now, today, can organize and mobilize to improve our conditions. Fair and honest governance depends on us all! Let us not point fingers and lay blame on each other. We must be vigilant and focus on who the real enemy is.
We, the youth, are learning to investigate, be critical, and fight for the truth and the people! Let us take a moment to think about this: who has the money and government connections to orchestrate this level of theft of the people’s democratic voice? They are our real enemies. We must take a stand, even when it feels difficult, even when it feels impossible. Especially when it’s difficult. Though many are feeling sad and disappointed, I’ve seen the most politicized and compassionate movement of youth supporters during this election. Nothing and no one can take that away from us.
The outcome of this election will decide who lives and who dies in our country. It will decide the fate of the War on Drugs, how we respond to future disasters, what we do about the pandemic, about joblessness, and a worsening economic crisis that affects working-class and impoverished Filipinos the most. This is the truth. Our most important work is just beginning. Hopefully, together, we can continue the alliances we have formed here.
To end, a reminder and a call to action: “do not go gently into the night. Rage against the dying of the light.”
The people united, will never be defeated. Dare to struggle, do not be afraid!
 From an interview of Professor Nicole Curato with CNN Philippines (May 9, 2022)
 From the 1947 poem “Do not go gentle into that good night” by Dylan Thomas