Pull out troops from the communities!

The Alliance of Progressive Labor today called on government to immediately take steps to stop the increasing militarization of the May 2007 elections with the deployment of military troops in election hotspots and opposition bailiwicks.

“Malacañang cannot wash its hands off this as the President is Commander-in-Chief and assumes command responsibility for the actions of military troops,” said APL Secretary-General Josua Mata.

“It was precisely the involvement of military troops in the 2004 elections that gave rise to allegations of fraud back then,” recounted Mata, “and those who dared speak up on the matter like Gudani and Balutan were slapped with EO 464 preventing them from divulging what they knew.”

“The marines who were mobilized to cheat for the incumbent are now detained and effectively prevented from telling the public exactly how the cheating took place,” added Mata.

“Now, military troops are being mobilized to demonize and harass supporters for oppositionist parties such as Akbayan and other leftist organizations to prevent us from campaigning and voting for Akbayan,” divulged Mata. “Military men in full battle gear are being deployed into communities under the pretense of peace-keeping to hide the fact that they are closely monitoring party-lists such as Akbayan.”

“The Alliance of Progressive Labor, with members in these communities, are being interrogated about their affiliations and being threatened not to campaign,” said Mata. “Clearly this strategy aims to weaken party-lists like Akbayan and its allies such as the APL from building upon its gains in the previous Congress, since we, together with other leftist party-lists have always stood in front against GMA and her policies.”

“We therefore call on government and the COMELEC to take immediate steps to pull back these troops from community involvement and bring them back to barracks where they belong,” said Mata. “The election is a purely civilian matter and the government has no authority deploying its armed component to skew the results against its perceived opponents,” added the labor leader.

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