Comelec confident of finding new citizen arm 1 week before polls

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 06 2019 10:46 AM | Updated as of May 06 2019 11:11 AM

MANILA- The Commission on Elections is confident that it can find a new partner for the random manual audit a week before the midterm elections.

Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez assured the voting public Monday that the poll body can tap other election watchdogs to replace the National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel), which refused accreditation.

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"Makakahanap naman tayo ng partners. Marami naman gustong sumali sa prosesong ito," Jimenez told radio DZMM.

(We can find new partners. Many want to join this process.)

"Marami tayong naging partners nung 2016 na andyan pa rin at nananatiling handang tumulong. Namfrel lang po talaga ang kumalas dito," he added.

(We had many partners during the 2016 elections who are still there and are ready to help. Only Namfrel broke away.)

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Namfrel national chairman Gus Lagman explained that they needed access to the digital version of election data, and not just printed copies, so that the election watchdog can verify poll results.

"Kung hindi kami bibigyan ng election data hindi namin maveverify sa random manual audit so sabi namin huwag na lang," he told radio DZMM in a separate interview Monday morning.

(If they won't provide us with election data, we cannot conduct verification during the random manual audit so we rejected the accreditation.)

"Wala kasi kaming way na maverify kung tama yung datos na ginagamit sa random manual audit," he added.

(We have no way to verify that the data we are using for the random manual audit is correct.)

Lagman said members of Namfrel will meet on Monday afternoon to discuss its possible role in the midterm elections.

Comelec Commissioner Luie Guia earlier said Namfrel's refusal came as a "surprise" but maintained that the poll body stands by its own preparations for the upcoming election day.

Guia said Namfrel requested for access for different logs attached in the server, which Comelec itself doesn't have access to, so understandably this was denied.

Comelec meanwhile is still open to talking with Namfrel but the poll body cannot guarantee that the election watchdog can still serve as its citizen arm.

"Well, definitely bukas po ang Comelec na makipag-usap sa kanila," Jimenez said.

(Comelec is open to talking with them.)