Comelec to find new citizen’s arm for May polls after Namfrel withdrawal
Robie de Guzman • May 6, 2019 • 1404
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)
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced on Thursday (October 22) that it will revert to weekday schedule for voter registration beginning November 9.
When Comelec resumed voter registration last September 1, it was scheduled to be conducted from Tuesdays to Saturdays.
Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said reverting to the weekday schedule will provide the agency time to disinfect offices on Saturdays.
“The Commission on Elections deems it necessary to revert to the weekday schedule to make way for Saturday disinfection days in all Offices of the Election Officer nationwide,” he said.
However, the Comelec official clarified that voter registration in areas under localized Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) will remain suspended.
Comelec also reminded the public that minimum health safety protocols will also be implemented during the registration to prevent the further spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“Wearing of face mask and face shield is mandatory, the number of people to be allowed inside the COMELEC office will be limited to ensure compliance with physical distancing requirements, and applicants are encouraged to bring their own pens,” Jimenez said. AAC (with reports from Aiko Miguel)
MANILA, Philippines – Former Commission on Elections (COMELEC) chairman Jose Melo has passed away, the poll body’s spokesperson announced.
In a message posted on Twitter, Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez said Melo died on Sunday night. He was 88 years old.
“Sad news tonight. Just received word that Chairman Jose A.R. Melo, former SC Justice, and the COMELEC Chairman who oversaw the country’s transition to full automation from 2008 to 2010, has passed away. He was 88 years old,” Jimenez said.
He, however, did not disclose the cause of Melo’s death .
Prior to leading the poll body, Melo served as Supreme Court Associate Justice for nearly 10 years.
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