Namfrel cuts ties with Comelec for May 13 midterm polls
MANILA, Philippiens — The National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) has declined the accreditation earlier granted to it by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) after the poll body limited its access to all election-related data.
In a press briefing on Friday in Makati City, Namfrel Council Member Lito Averia said the election watchdog on December 5 sought for Comelec’s accreditation for the May 13 midterm polls.
According to Averia, Namfrel specifically asked Comelec to be accredited for three of its major projects for the upcoming elections, namely: performing the Random Manual Audit (RMA), monitoring preparations for the May 13 elections, and the Open Election Data project.
“But we noted that we were accredited only for the conduct of the first project, the random conduct of the RMA. And of course we were granted access to the 27th printed copy of the election returns (ER) at the precinct level,” Averia noted.
“We were not granted access to data, that we had wanted to put in our system for the Open Elections Data project,” he added.
Because of this, Averia said Namfrel filed a manifestation on April 30 rejecting the Comelec accreditation “because we thought that the data we were requesting would be important and significant to support our findings in the results of the random manual audit.”
“Without open access to information and data, Petitioner (Namfrel) is unable to participate in the RMA because the inaccessibility diminishes the verifiability of data separately provided during the RMA,” Namfrel’s manifestation read.
However, he said they have yet to receive a response from Comelec.
“The manifestation was filed April 30, so I guess they are still processing it, we have not received any response from the Comelec,” he said.
Averia further said the Open Elecitons Data project would have helped Comelec in monitoring irregularities during the elections.
He said that one of the objectives of the said project is “analyzing the data, how the system behaved, what events transpired, and we would be able to flag certain incidents that may indicate if there are other irregularities that happened or if there are other violations.”
“If we’re able to identify those then it would have enabled the Commission to further investigate the matter, to do an exhausted investigation on what I call the red flag incidents,” he added.
According to Averia, given that their accreditation only covered the conduct of the RMA and access to the 27th copy of the ER, the activities that the election watchdog planned to “perform before, during, and after the elections has been limited, the scale of monitoring activities and other activities that we had planned to do has been limited.”
Despite this, he said Namfrel will continue with its duty to monitor the midterm elections.
“We will continue to perform other activities that are not really dependent on the data that we had wanted to access for analysis,” he said.
“Like for example, before the elections our watchers, our volunteers can still continue monitoring for example the movement of the election paraphernalia, the conduct of the final testing and sealing which begins on Monday, May 6,” he added. /kga
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