POLL POSTCRIPT | May 13 exercise flunked standards for transparency, accountability – watchdog By: Abigail Kwok, InterAksyon.com May 17, 2013 12:38 PM

Media Coverage February 20, 2014 12:53 PM

MANILA, Philippines – Poll watchdog Lente (Legal Network for Truthful Elections) said Friday the May 13 midterm elections left much to be desired, with several areas having experienced disfranchisement of voters, vote-buying and other anomalies.

In a press conference in Quezon City, Lente said there was “no genuine elections” at least not in accordance with international standards of “inclusiveness, transparency, accountability and public confidence.”

Among the most damning marks of the exercise—the second nationally automated one since a landmark law was passed—was the lack of transparency in the disposition of results in many places where electronic transmission from the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines failed, and teacher-poll deputies resorted to other means of sending the data to local boards of canvassers.

Lawyer Kenjie Aman said lack of transparency marred this year’s elections, especially in places where PCOS machines malfunctioned.

He elaborated: “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 Comelec to fix such problems and monitoring whether Comelec has done so.”

He said Comelec’s “token release of the source code review just days before Election Day” prevented people from scrutinizing the source code which was essential in ensuring integrity of the election system.

Aman said they received reports from different field offices of cases of:

• discrepancies between the Posted Computerized Voters’ List (PCVL) and the Election Day Computerized Voters’ List (EDVCL);

• insufficiency of ballots, oversized ballots and pre-shaded ballots;

• flying voters; vote-buyers and vote-sellers;

• a number of persons with disabilities (PWDs) were unable to vote due to lack of access;

Field officers of Lente reported discrepancies in the voters’ list in Regions 12 (Soccsksargen) and 13 (Caraga). There were also reported cases of insufficient ballots in Butuan City with one precinct reporting 469 missing ballots.

Vote-buying was also rampant, with amounts ranging from P20 to P500. There were also cases of unlawful electioneering where candidates were campaigning inside the precincts on Election Day.

Pre-shaded ballots were also reported for party-list groups.

In Regions 2 (Cagayan), 3 (Central Luzon) and 4 (Calabarzon) there were incidents where BEIs were unable to accommodate PWDs.

Comelec’s lack of accountability in addressing these problems poses a concern and should be addressed, Lente said.

“We expected more from the commission, from its partner institutions and from frontliners who could’ve handled the elections better,” Aman said.

Despite the anomalies, Lente admitted that they would not be able to file charges against Comelec or election officers due to lack of willing complainants. Instead, it appealed to those who witnessed any anomaly or were disfranchised to come forward. The group said it is willing to provide legal assistance to them for free.

As one of its recommendations, Lente said all BEIs, support staff, and technical personnel should undergo intensive training particularly on vulnerable sectors.

Lawyer Rona Caritos, Lente executive director, said trainings should also focus on how to handle PWD voters and other concerns.

Lente also recommended stricter custody of PCOS machines and other election paraphernalia to prevent incidents of missing ballots.

Caritos said they are also pushing for mandatory biometrics for voters to preserve the integrity of the voters’ list, reveal areas where PCOS machines failed to transmit results and timely release of the source code for review.

Lente is expected to submit its recommendations to the Comelec soon.


KwokAbigail. “POLL POSTCRIPT | May 13 exercise flunked standards for transparency, accountability – watchdog.” InterAksyon.com


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