Credit to Author: NEIL JAYSON SERVALLOS| Date: Fri, 03 May 2019 16:16:03 +0000
For the first time since its founding, the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) has declined the accreditation granted by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to be the official citizens’ arm for the May 13 elections.
Namfrel announced its decision as it made public the Comelec’s decision that turned down its accreditation as civil society’s participant in the poll body’s random manual audit, which means that it would not be given the 27th copy of the election results generated by the vote counting machines.
“Petitioner (Namfrel) respectfully declines its accreditation as citizens’ arm of the [Comelec], as embodied in [its] resolution dated March 29, 2019,” a document issued by the group read.
The Comelec turned down Namfrel’s request to be given access to election data, which would enable the watchdog to make public irregularities and report the performance of precincts.
“Why would they refuse to give us access? We are not the enemy. If they refuse to give us that, then better not give us the accreditation after all,” former Comelec commissioner and now Namfrel National Chairman Augusto Lagman said in a news conference.
Access to data from the Comelec would enable Namfrel to operate its Open Election Data project, a website containing election-related data such as information on candidates, election return tabulation, list of voters, transparency and media servers, among many other information.
The project would increase the transparency of the poll results and detect fraud.
Namfrel Treasurer Lito Averia, head of the Open Election Data project, said the Comelec could refuse or accept their manifestation.
“I wish I knew why they refused to give us our request for access. If we had, we can do almost real-time analysis and publication, which they (Comelec) can’t do either,” Averia said.
Eric Alvia, Namfrel secretary general, said while their refusal to be accredited might prompt restrictions on their precinct volunteers nationwide, they would “work with whatever we can get.”
Namfrel is seeking the support of some 50,000 volunteers to monitor election activities in more than 85,000 clustered polling precincts before, during and after the elections.
“We have managed to continue with worse circumstances since 1985,” he added.
Founded in 1983, Namfrel is the first citizens’ election watchdog in the world.