Namfrel denied access to random manual audit in some precincts
The National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) on Friday complained about not being given full access to the random manual audit (RMA) currently being conducted by local precincts.
Eric Alvia of Namfrel said they are the official observer of the RMA, which tests the accuracy of the vote-counting machines (VCMs), but some of their people on the ground have been prevented from watching how it is conducted.
He said that of the 715 precincts ordered to conduct an RMA, majority have submitted their reports.
However, he said some election officers in Lanao, Manila and Parañaque said they were not aware about the audit.
“We are also concerned that some of them have been feigning ignorance,” he said.
Namfrel personnel assigned in Manila were told that the audit has not yet started but they later received a report that it was already done.
Some of the excuses cited by the election officers were that the teachers were tired or there were no party representatives. But Alvia pointed out that under the law, a new set of teachers, not the ones who served as Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) on election day, should conduct the RMA. Party representatives are also not required to be present during the audit.
Alvia said that when they finally went to the precinct, they were told to leave the place.
“In a northern city in Metro Manila we saw some data being smudged,” he said, adding that people were seen using correction fluid to hide discrepancies in the numbers.
He added that the people seemed to have been trying to get a zero variance, by just copying data from election returns, to show that the manual audit resulted in the name numbers as that of the VCM.
Alvia said they were also blocked from observing the manual audit in Manila and Quezon City.
“This is a bit disappointing because we are partners,” he said.
Meanwhile, he lauded the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for introducing the said transparency measure, in accordance with the law.
Alvia said they still do not know what is going on.
“It may be that these people have not been informed or it may be that some people are trying to undermine the RMA for their ulterior motive,” he said.
“We want to find out the truth why a lot of RMA teams on the ground are not allowing Namfrel to observe when in fact the head of the RMA committee is the head of Namfrel, David Balangue,” he added.
Namfrel called on the RMA teams to allow it to observe and make its report, which it will present to the Comelec and the general public. RAM/rga
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