JOHANNA CAMILLE L. SISANTE, GMANews.TV
A delegation from Europe, Asia, and the United States has been tapped to observe the Philippines’ first fully-automated elections in May and report their findings to international bodies such as the United Nations.
The deployment of the International Observers Mission — composed of 18 foreign delegates who will visit various Philippine locations — is only one of many activities launched by the Compact for Peaceful and Democratic Elections (Compact) to help boost voter information and clean, orderly elections.
The poll observers will come from Sweden, Finland, the Netherlands, Germany, Indonesia, Malaysia, and the United States, said former Akbayan Rep. Etta Rosales, one of the convenors of Compact, at a press conference in Quezon City.
The foreign observers will stay for two weeks in Maguindanao, Misamis Oriental, Negros, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Pasig City, and Isabela.
“Many of the areas were picked based on their long-established records of political violence, entrenched political families, and election cheating,” Compact said in a statement. “Many of the areas also have far-flung election sites which could prove very interesting for the conduct of automated elections and its subsequent transmission for counting.”
The foreign observers will then construct their report on the political conditions surrounding Philippine elections and provide policy recommendations if necessary, Compact said.
The report will be presented to the UN, various government institutions, and other groups.
Compact also deployed international observers in 2004 and 2007 composed of parliamentarians, activists, and filmmakers from different countries to observe and document the conduct of elections in the Philippines.
Besides sending an international delegation, Compact will also be handing out primers nationwide to inform voters of what they should do on May 10.
These include reminders such as coming to the voting area early, preparing a list of candidates to vote for, refraining from committing mistakes, and filing complaints to the appropriate bodies if a voter is deprived of his or her right to vote. [See: Voters beware: no second chance allowed in May polls]
Former National Statistics Office (NSO) Administrator Tomas “Butch” Africa said there was a need to intensify the current voter information campaign because while basic literacy — or the ability to read and write — in the country is high, 16 percent of the population is functionally illiterate.
“Mahihirapan ang anim na bilyong botante dahil ngayon kelangan ng read, write, comprehend, at saka compute. May number, may oval, bibilugan, dati sinusulat niyo lang ang pangalan sa blank spaces,” Africa said in the same press conference.
(Six million voters will find it difficult to vote because this time because they must be able to read, write comprehend, and compute. There will be numbers, there will be ovals that need to be shaded, when one just had to write names on the blank spaces previously.)
Africa said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should extend voting hours and clarify its plans for manual elections in areas where automated elections are likely to fail due to transmission or other mechanical problems.
The group also reiterated its complaint that the Comelec will not issue receipts upon voting, with ZTE-NBN whistleblower Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada saying the result of any electronic transaction should always be acknowledged. [See: Group decried lack of ways to validate votes on election day]
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez had earlier said the printing of receipt was “unnecessary.”
He also said the issuance of a receipt was dangerous because it could violate the secrecy of the vote. – RJAB Jr., GMANews.TV
Intl delegation to observe May 2010 elections
JOHANNA CAMILLE L. SISANTE, GMANews.TV