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POLL EXEC SAYS Even without accreditation, Namfrel can still educate voters

Posted on: February 4, 2010

POLL EXEC SAYS
Even without accreditation, Namfrel can still educate voters

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:59:00 02/04/2010

Filed Under: Elections, Eleksyon 2010

MANILA, Philippines— The National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) can still conduct voters’ education even without accreditation as a poll watchdog, a Commission on Elections (Comelec) official said Thursday.

Comelec commissioner Rene Sarmiento told INQUIRER.net that any group or party such as Namfrel are welcome to hold voters’ information and education campaign for the May automated elections.

The poll agency is open to sharing materials and other information on how to vote in an automated election system, Sarmiento said.

However, Namfrel cannot deploy poll watchers in polling precincts on Election Day, nor conduct a quick count and random manual audit based on the fourth copy of the certificate of canvass of voting results because such functions are reserved for the official accredited poll watchdog.

On January 25, Comelec en banc issued a resolution denying the petition for accreditation of Namfrel because the poll agency already approved on October 2009 the petition of PPCRV as the official citizens’ arm for the automated polls.

Sarmiento is hoping Namfrel and the PPCRV can partner and delineate tasks for ensuring transparent and fraud-free elections in May.

“Comelec knows that Namfrel has a long track record of ensuring clean and honest elections and we hope that they could work out a partnership with PPCRV. I was told there have been talks between the two parties on how to guard the May elections,” said Sarmiento.

Other reasons for junking the accreditation of Namfrel cited include the lack of documents presenting a memorandum of agreement with the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and National Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace (NASA) as claimed in its petition for accreditation, and the partisanship of its leaders.

PPCRV chairperson Henrietta de Villa said in another interview that PPCRV had no hand in influencing the decision of the Comelec that disqualified Namfrel as a poll watchdog. Namfrel could not be reached for comment.

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