Namfrel gives up on accreditation as citizen's arm

Namfrel gives up on accreditation as citizen’s arm
By Reynaldo C. Santos, Jr.

MANILA, Philippines–The National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel), which has been conducting official election quick counts for more than 2 decades, is giving up on its request for accreditation as citizen arm in the country’s first nationwide automated elections in May.

In a press conference on Friday, Namfrel announced that it will be withdrawing next week its petition that was earlier denied by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) but which is under appeal.

Namfrel spokesperson Damaso Magbual said his group concedes that it cannot be accredited as the official citizen arm in this year’s polls since the status has been awarded to the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) as early as last year.

The group’s request for accreditation as citizen arm was denied by the Comelec in January. The poll body cited, among other reasons, the duplication of election monitoring activities, which the PPCRV will be doing. Namfrel filed a petition for reconsideration in February, taking cue from the Comelec announcement that the group could still re-apply for accreditation.

“We have decided to withdraw our request for accreditation because we can’t do our activities without Comelec accreditation. It’s our feeling that they will delay and delay, then we will not be ready for it anymore,” Damaso said.

He said that Namfrel will continue with its election monitoring duty, albeit unofficially. It will focus on observing and reporting the conduct of the elections through the Bantay ng Bayan network. Bantay ng Bayan is composed of Namfrel, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines-Nassa, and YouthVote. The network will be issuing pre-election, election day, and post-election reports.

This was the first time since 1983 that Namfrel was denied accreditation for its quick count operations. Comelec said it would be useless to do a manual quick count since the automated system will yield the results of the electionswithin a day or 2.

Magbual said that Namfrel they can still monitor the polls without the perks of being an official citizen arm of the Comelec.

The official citizen arm has the privilege of getting a server that will receive data to be transmitted by the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in all polling centers, and by the canvassing centers in all cities and municipalities nationwide.

Magbual explained that unlike in the previous elections wherein only 6 copies of ERs were manually produced and was carefully assigned to specific parties (including the citizen arm), there will now be 30 copies of ERs to be produced by each PCOS machine.

He said that the 27th to 30th copies of the ERs will be free for all interested parties. “It’s easy to ask for a copy [of the ER],” Magbual said.

He added that the Comelec will post in an official website the data to be transmitted to the servers, hence making the data available to Namfrel even without the accreditation. (Newsbreak)

Karen Ang

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