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Comelec mulls appointing another citizens’ arm

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The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has floated the idea of accrediting two citizens’ arms for the midterm elections next year.

While the Comelec en banc has decided to retain the Church-affiliated Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) as its citizens’ arm for the coming balloting, it was also looking at approving the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections’ (Namfrel) application to be a watchdog.

“It is still possible [but] tasks have to be delineated to avoid duplication,” said Commissioner Rene Sarmiento in an interview with reporters.

On Friday, the en banc issued a resolution penned by Sarmiento announcing that the PPCRV’s application to be the citizens’ arm of the election body for the May 2013 elections had been granted.

Sarmiento, in the ruling, cited the PPCRV’s track record as an “established” organization with membership across the Philippines and as one of the commission’s “staunch allies” in ensuring clean, peaceful, honest and orderly elections.

In retaining the Catholic group as its citizens’ arm, the Comelec also said the PPCRV had demonstrated its capacity to promote the public interest.

Earlier, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. disclosed he was in discussions with the PPCRV and Namfrel on what specific tasks each group would perform in case the election body decided to accredit both.

“I talked to them to find out what task they would prefer in case we accredit two citizens’ arms,” Brillantes said in an earlier interview.

For its part, the PPCRV has asked that it be allowed to participate in the random manual audit as in the first automated elections in May 2010, the Comelec chief said.

The en banc has yet to rule on the petition filed by Namfrel seeking accreditation as a citizens’ arm. In 2010, the Comelec denied its petition, citing duplication of work.

As an accredited citizens’ arm, the PPCRV has been tasked with performing the following: Carry out poll watching in various precincts; give assistance to voters on Election Day, particularly senior citizens, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, detainees and indigenous peoples, among others.

The PPCRV is also expected to assist the Comelec in voter information and education campaigns in every town, city and province in the country.


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