Comelec to find new citizen’s arm for May polls after Namfrel withdrawal

Robie de Guzman   •   May 6, 2019   •   1190

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday expressed confidence that it will be able to find a new citizen’s arm after the National Citizen’s Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) withdrew with less than a week before the May National and Local elections.

Namfrel last week pulled out of its accreditation as citizen watchdog after the poll body denied its request for full access to open election information and data, which they said were intended to be used for in-depth analysis.

Comelec Spokesperson Director James Jimenez said the poll body’s reason for not granting the Namfrel access to open election data may have been for security reasons as it is already beyond its role as citizen’s arm.

Jimenez said they are still open to any possible discussion with Namfrel but stressed that they will not force the group in taking its poll duty.

He is also positive that they will be able to find other coalition to conduct random manual audit of the election results.

“If the COMELEC goes into direction of finding a Namfrel equivalent then I’m pretty sure that a lot of organizations are willing to step up,” he said.

Jimenez also assured that Namfrel’s withdrawal will not cause any delay in the conduct of the midterm elections, adding that the deployment of all official ballots and other election paraphernalia are already complete.

The Comelec official also said that the final testing and sealing (FTS) of 85,000 vote-counting machines to be used on May 13 polls have already begun on Monday (May 6).

This is to ensure that VCMs are properly functioning and can correctly count the votes. The process will last until the eve of elections on May 12.

An end-to-end test of the voting process will be conducted during the FTS – from the initialization of the machines to the voting, to the feeding of the marked ballots to the machines until the printing of election returns.

The final testing and sealing process will also test the transmission system to address any issues prior to the election day.

“So far, no reports yet of any untoward findings for the FTS but then again it is just the start of the FTS period so will see what happens,” Jimenez said.

After the process, the Comelec will then seal and lock the machines and will only be opened during the start of the elections.

The poll body assured they have prepared 7,000 VCMs as contingency, which will be deployed to provincial election supervisors. (with details from Aiko Miguel)

Comelec seeks P9.8-B budget for 2020

Maris Federez   •   September 16, 2019

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday (Sept. 16) asked, during the Senate budget hearing, for a P9.8-Billion budget for 2020.

The poll body said this will cover the P5.77-Billion budget for the 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections (BSKE), which they have been preparing for despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s previous statement that he wants it postponed.

Comelec said Congress has to enact a law for the postponement of the BSKE.

“Ang pakiusap namin, your honor, is sana mapabilis iyong pagpasa ng batas otherwise we have no choice but to incur some expenses preparatory expenses especially so na tali po kami ng procurement law,” said Comelec Chair Sheriff Abas.

Comelec added that should the BSKE be postponed, they request for it not to be held close to the 2022 elections.

“If postponement happens it would be preferable if it would be one year before or one year after the May 2022 (elections). So, it could be either May 2021 or May 2023,” said Commissioner Antonio Kho, Jr.

The Senate budget hearing also focused on the low voter turn-out of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the last election.

Of the five million OFWs who are qualified to vote, only 1.8 million were registered and only 18% of which actually voted.

Comelec pointed out the inadequate information dissemination for voters and the distance of the voting centers in some countries as reasons for the low voter turn-out. (from the report of Mai Bermudez) /mbmf

SC overturns decision to disqualify Camarines Norte gubernatorial bet

Marje Pelayo   •   September 13, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Voting 8-6, the Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday (September 10) granted the petition of Camarines Norte gubernatorial candidate Edgardo Tallado who questioned his disqualification by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the last May 19 elections.

Tallado was allowed to run after the SC issued a Status Quo Ante Order (SQAO) following Comelec’s decision to disqualify him from the race.

The SC decision, penned by Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin, stated that the Court En Banc overturned the Comelec’s decision to disqualify Tallado to run in the gubernatorial race.

The SC Public Information Office will issue a copy of the decision through its website once they receive the official copy from the Office of the Clerk of Court En Banc.

Concurring with Bersamin were Justices Diosdado Peralta, Alexander Gesmundo, Andres Reyes Jr., Jose Reyes Jr., Amy Lazaro-Javier, Henry Jean Paul Inting and Rodil Zalameda.

Dissenting were Justice Francis Jardeleza, Antonio Carpio, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Marvic Leonen, Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, and Rosmari Carandang.

Comelec had disqualified Tallado to run due to what the poll body says as questionable years of service as governor of Camarines Norte, pointing out that should they grant Tallado’s certificate of candidacy, it would have already been his 4th term as governor.

The law provides that gubernatorial post is only limited to three consecutive terms.

However, Tallado took his case to the Supreme Court questioning the decision of the Comelec, insisting that he is still eligible to run for the May 2019 polls as he was suspended from office in 2015 and was reinstated only in 2018.

Tallado won as the governor of Camarines Norte after garnering 149,002 votes against his rival Cathy Barcelona-Reyes who had 104,635 votes.

Comelec has yet to comment on the matter as it yet to receive a copy of the SC decision. — Marje Pelayo

Comelec junks poll protest vs Pasig Mayor Vico Sotto

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 2, 2019

Former Pasig City Mayor Bobby Eusebio (left) and incumbent Mayor Vico Sotto (right)

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has junked the poll protest of former Pasig Mayor Robert “Bobby” Eusebio against incumbent mayor Vico Sotto.

Based on the decision of Comelec 2nd Division promulgated last August 30, the said protest is “insufficient in form and substance.”

“Protestant failed to provide a detailed specification of the acts or omissions complained of showing the electoral frauds, anomalies or irregularities in the protested precincts as required by Section 7(g) Rule 6 of Comelec Resolution no. 8804,” the decision states.

The Comelec 2nd Division said Eusebio’s party was not able to provide enough evidence that there was an anomaly during the Pasig City mayoral race last May.

READ: Sotto, Zamora, Moreno topple giants; make history in PH politics

Sotto had 86,500 more votes than Eusebio, ending his 37-year reign as the mayor of Pasig City.—AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

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