Eleksyon 2013: “There was no genuine elections.”–Legal Network for Truthful Elections

Featured,For Release,Press May 26, 2013 5:27 PM

Released 17 May 2013LENTE Post-Election Evaluation invite

  • “There was no genuine elections,” says the Legal Network for Truthful Elections, not in accordance with international standards of inclusiveness, transparency, accountability and public confidence in elections.

  • Voters being victimized by discrepancies between voters’ lists, discrimination, and insufficiency and manipulation of ballots increased disenfranchisement and the chances of ineligible people casting votes at the expense of legal voters.

  • The lack of speedy mechanisms addressing the mentioned causes of disenfranchisement and the widespread commission of vote-buying is a clear danger sign of lack of accountability and culture of impunity easily taken advantage of by election law violators.

  • That there were no opportunity for review of the source code, and of other decisions made by the Commission on Elections who opted to play it by ear, showed no attempts of transparency and being open to public knowledge and scrutiny.

  • COMELEC’s frontliners, the election officers and Bureau of Election Inspectors, manifested on the election day itself deep-rooted problems in the organization—performing below the standards of electoral procedures and public confidence entrusted to them.

 

Quezon City, Philippines—A genuine democratic elections in accordance with international standards is characterized by inclusiveness, transparency, accountability and public confidence in elections. In the recently concluded midterm elections, the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) observed less commitment, if at all, in adhering to international practices and criteria.

INCLUSIVENESS is maximizing the opportunity for and protecting universal suffrage when every eligible citizen is allowed to vote, while limiting any chances for ineligible people to vote and dilute the weight of legally cast ballots.

LENTE received reports of voters not finding their names on the voters’ list, discrepancies between the Posted Computerized Voters’ List (PCVL) and the Election Day Computerized Voters’ List (EDVCL), insufficiency of ballots, and legal voters being victimized by flying voters and pre-shaded and manipulated ballots. All these incidents resulted in a significant number of voter disenfranchisement.

A number of Persons with Disability (PWD) were deprived of their right to vote. Reports revealed that while most polling centers were located at the upper floors, members of the Bureau of Election Inspectors (BEI) refused to bring down ballots to accommodate wheelchair-bound voters. In addition, LENTE received a report describing how a number of Mangyan voters in Paluan, Occidental Mindoro were intercepted on their way to the voting centers preventing them to cast their votes.

TRANSPARENCY means that all information on the electoral process be open to public knowledge and scrutiny. The principle of transparency is central when considering the ever-growing scale at which electronic technologies are used in electoral processes—from registration and canvassing to transmission.

 Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 25 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights state that it is not possible to know whether the government sincerely protects its people’s right to be elected and to vote unless electoral processes are transparent.

 The token release of the source code just days before election day provided no opportunity for review, which was essential to securing the integrity of the automated election system, following Section 11 of Republic Act 9369.

 The lack of transparency as to which precincts failed to transmit during the recently concluded elections and the last 2010 elections hinder the public from identifying the problem areas, compelling the Commission on Elections to fix such problems, and monitoring whether the COMELEC has done so.

ACCOUNTABILITY is being responsible and answerable to a certain wrong doing, and necessarily involves provision for effective remedies for violations. To be effective, any remedy must address the harm created by the violation of electoral rights and cure the harm in a timely manner.

The lack of speedy mechanism to address missing names of voters, insufficiency of ballots, rejected ballots without the voters’ fault, and other causes of disenfranchisement clearly reflect that accountability is amiss.

The lack of accountability was also witnessed in the form of widespread commission of vote-buying which is attributable to the culture of impunity taken advantage of by election law violators. The dire number of vote-buying cases successfully prosecuted is also a symptom of this culture.

PUBLIC CONFIDENCE is the degree of trust that citizens put in their government and its authorities, whose capacity and expertise place them in a privilege position to ensure that electoral rights are respected and the will of the electors is accurately determined and honored. A critical element in establishing and maintaining public confidence involves perceptions of the ability of electoral authorities to perform their duties impartially and effectively.

On election day, the country witnessed how the BEIs exhibited lack of necessary familiarity and knowledge on electoral procedures, initially observed by LENTE at the Final Testing and Sealing (FTS). Reports on inaccurate delivery of ballots, tampered ballots, lack of express lanes in some precincts, the many incidents of PCOS machines malfunctioning or breaking down, theft of ballots and PCOS machines, and failure and delays of transmission all cast a doubt on whether the true will of the people was reflected in the results.

The will of the people is the basis of the authority of the government, and elections are organized and funded accordingly to ascertain and honor that will. LENTE believes that such will could not be ascertained without inclusiveness, transparency, accountability, and public confidence. We expected more from the commission, from its partner institutions, and from the frontliners who could’ve handled the elections better.

 

References:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (http://ow.ly/l6EVd)

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (http://ow.ly/l6FiC)

Republic Act 9369, Section 11. (http://ow.ly/l6GbK)

 

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About LENTE Philippines

The Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) is established in 2007 in response to widescale and systematic fraud during the past elections. LENTE is the first and only non-partisan, nationwide network of lawyers, law students, paralegals and other trained volunteers engaged to do election work. Aside from monitoring the canvassing of tallied votes in cities, municipalities, and provinces around the country, LENTE provides must-know information on election laws and punishable offenses, and voters’ rights in general. LENTE mobilizes up to 3,000 volunteers to help other non-partisan groups ensure transparent and truthful elections.

 

Official website: http://lente.ph

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For general inquiries: lente.philippines@gmail.com

 

Media inquiries:

ATTY. KENJIE AMAN

(02) 403-2249 | 0917-6023228 | 0939-3524295

lente.philippines@gmail.com | lenteph.pr@gmail.com

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