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DESPITE NON-ACCREDITATION Namfrel to tap 150,000 observers for May polls

Posted on: April 9, 2010

DESPITE NON-ACCREDITATION
Namfrel to tap 150,000 observers for May polls

By Anna Valmero
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 15:48:00 04/06/2010

Filed Under: Eleksyon 2010, Elections, Politics

MANILA, Philippines – To prevent poll fraud in May, election watchdog National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) said Tuesday that they would recruit 150,000 volunteers to observe the conduct of the automated polls.

Jose Cuisia Jr., Namfrel national chairman said the watchdog’s provincial chairmen would be the one to recruit observers in their respective areas.

“At present, we have 54 provincial chairmen, who will organize observation and ground roots watchdog groups in their own areas. We need 26 more provincial chairman and we hope by this week we fill that,” said Cuisia,

Namfrel will be deploying at least two observers to each polling precinct, he added.

Cuisia said that some of the provincial chairmen moved to the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), the accredited citizens’ arm for the May 2010 elections.

Comelec denied Namfrel’s petition for accreditation this year after PPCRV’s accreditation was approved since November last year.

Guillermo Luz, Namfrel Council member said that this would be done to help prevent cheating on election day.

“Cheating takes place where there are no volunteers or observers. So if we all tell people where there are no volunteers they would go there to cheat. Our observers have a checklist of activities to do such as guidelines to check that the machines arrive on time and it contains no stored voting data,” Luz said.

“We will perform poll watchdog duties although we cannot enter the polling precincts. We will have observers outside the polling precincts and even roving volunteers to check the conduct of elections are orderly on Election Day, and to make sure that the machines to be used do not contain tampered automation software and does not contain voting data to create fraud and benefit a few parties,” said Damaso Magbual, Namfrel membership committee chairman.

Cuisia also stressed that the Comelec should conduct the random manual audit of the machines before proclamation of the results to determine if the machines are accurate in counting and transmitting the codes.

He added a genuine indelible ink is also needed to prevent flying voters to vote in more than one polling place.

Luz also urged voters and the media to check machines delivered on the polling precinct and to be used on Election Day has the same hash code or “digital fingerprint” produced by international certification Systest Labs of the automation software specific only to a polling precinct.

“We believe Comelec is doing its best to prepare for the polls but we believe these areas need to be addressed and to make sure that the voting results reflect the will of the people and we have a legitimate government,” said Magbual.

“If the polls are not accepted by the people, it would be a real problem,” said Cuisia.

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