Int’l electoral watchdog to monitor May 10 polls

Int’l electoral watchdog to monitor May 10 polls
By Leila Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—An international electoral watchdog is sending a team to observe if the May 10 automated elections will work in other parts of Asia.

On the other hand, a negative result could erode confidence in the country’s election institution, according to the Asian Network for Free Elections (Anfrel).

Anfrel remains concerned about a repeat of the vote-buying and intimidation that had marred the 2008 elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), which it had observed.

Based in Bangkok, Anfrel is composed of civil society organizations from the Philippines, Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Nepal, Pakistan, South Korea, Sri Lanka and Thailand. It promotes good democratic governance.

Opening a new era

“The success of the automation system in the Philippines obviously will open the new era of election modernization that could probably be followed by the neighboring countries,” Anfrel executive director Somsri Hananuntasuk said in an e-mail interview.

She added that successful polls would showcase the country’s political stability and credibility.

Hananuntasuk said the 32-member Anfrel delegation would assess not just the actual polls, but the preparations as well, including the training and the voter education.

Recalling the 2008 ARMM automated elections, she said that the problems that could arise may not only have to do with the equipment. There were problems related to vote-buying, vote secrecy, voter education and the training of the board of election inspectors (BEIs).

Glitches could also take place when the results are being transmitted to the canvassing centers. She noted that when the machines had bogged down during the ARMM polls, the BEI resorted to manual count, a process open to manipulation.

“We must learn from the ARMM experiences seriously,” she said.

She also said she was interested to see whether the atmosphere in the ARMM would be free of fear and abuse of power during the polls, especially in the aftermath of the Nov. 23 Maguindanao massacre.

Karen Ang

A plebeian who is trying to make small changes in this world.