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

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, May 6th, 2019

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)

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Comelec says voter registration to resume in August

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Friday, June 21st, 2019

Residents search for their names on the voters list

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Friday that the voter registration for the next election is expected to resume on August 1, 2019 and will run until September 30, 2019.

“Voter registration is expected to run Aug 1 to Sept 30, 2019, inclusive of Saturdays & holidays,”Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in a post on Twitter.

Jimenez said approximately two million new voters are expected to register in the said period.

“SK (Sangguniang Kabataan) voters need not register anew upon turning eighteen; their names will automatically be transferred to the regular List of Voters,” he added.

Comelec data showed there were more than 61 million registered voters in the last 2019 May Midterm polls. More than 18 million of the said number are from the youth sector or the so-called Millennials and Generation Z, born in the mid-90s and early 2000s.

The poll body has been urging Filipino voters to go out and exercise their right to suffrage in order to elect honest and deserving officials.

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Comelec: May polls still fraud-free despite stolen ballot box in Maguindanao

by Robie de Guzman   |   Posted on Monday, June 17th, 2019

A stolen ballot box was found submerged in floodwater behind a municipal office in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao | Courtesy: Sam Zailon Esmael’s Facebook

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday maintained that the conduct of 2019 midterm elections remains fraud-free despite a report on a stolen ballot box in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao.

Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez issued the statement after a certain Sam Zailon Esmael posted on social media last June 14 several photos showing a ballot box allegedly found submerged in floodwater.

Esmael, who ran but lost in 2019 mayoral race in Datu Salibo town, claimed in his post that the ballot box was found submerged in a flooded area behind the municipal office by a passerby who claimed to have been fishing in the floodwaters. He said this is evidence of fraud.

Based on Comelec records, Datu Salibo has 9,504 registered voters. Esmael only garnered a total of 273 votes out of the estimated 5,000 total votes cast.

“As mandated by law, custody of ballot boxes after election day is with the city of municipal treasurer of the locality. Ali A. Mamoribid, the municipal treasurer of Datu Salibo asserts the ballot box found allegedly submerged and abandoned had been stolen from the municipal office by still unidentified persons,” Jimenez said.

“Contrary to allegations made by Esmael and in the absence of any proof of fraud, Datu Salibo Election officer Mary Ann Marohombsar maintains that the conduct of the May 13 polls in her jurisdiction was fraud-free,” he added.

The poll official assured that Mamoribid is presently in close coordination with Marohombsar and the Comelec in the province of Maguindanao in aid of investigation being conducted by the Philippine National Police.

Comelec also called on the public to be cautious of “malicious” allegations and “unfounded” claims, which he said, may be intended to taint the integrity of the recently concluded 2019 midterm polls.

“Actions are now being taken to set the facts straight and hold to account those who are responsible,” Jimenez assured.

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Youth group files petition in Comelec to disqualify Cardema as youth rep

by Aileen Cerrudo   |   Posted on Monday, June 17th, 2019

Millennials PH, accompanied by Atty. Emil Marañon and Atty. Sixto Brillantes Jr., files petition anew to cancel the substitution bid of ex-NYC Chair Ronald Cardema to become a nominee of Duterte Youth Partylist.

Youth group, Millenials PH, has filed a petition with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) seeking to disqualify former National Youth Commission chairperson Ronald Cardema as representative of the Duterte Youth Party-list.

According to Millenials PH, Cardema is already over the age limit to qualify as representative of the Duterte Youth Party-list .

Based on their 17-page petition, Cardema is already 34 years old which is over the set age limit for the party-list representatives of the youth sector which is 25 to 30 years old.

“Makikita na may material misrepresentation talaga na nangyari and ang representation talaga ng Duterte Youth ay youth sector (There really is a material misrepresentation. The representation of the Duterte Youth is the youth sector),” according to Millenials PH Spokesperson Aunell Ross Angcos.

Former Comelec Chairman Atty. Sixto Brillantes Jr., who accompanied the youth group to file the petition said Comelec should withhold Cardema’s certificate of proclamation.

“Dapat matanggal na muna ito at pumalit na ang tunay, iyong legitimate. Kaya kami pumirma rito. Willing kami i-prosecute ito diretso dito sa Comelec hanggang sa Supreme Court kung kailangan (It should be withheld first and should be replaced with the legitimate [representative]. So we signed here. We are willing to prosecute this straight to Comelec up to the Supreme Court if needed),” he said.

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon previously said that the Duterte Youth party-list is registered as a youth sector party-list in the 2019 elections.

Meanwhile, Cardema defended that Duterte Youth is registered as a party-list group to uplift the youth and professional sector which has no age limit.

Duterte Youth won one seat in Congress. However, five of the party-list nominees withdrew their nomination, including Cardema’s wife, Ducielle Marie Suarez.

The Comelec poll body is currently conducting a hearing for the petition against Cardema.—AAC (with reports from April Cenedoza)

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