WE, members of Babae, Bantayan ang Eleksyon! (BaBaE) Network, express alarm over the recent refusal of Commission on Elections (Comelec) to provide access to key election data to the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel), and the subsequent withdrawal of the latter as accredited poll partner in the 2019 midterm elections.
We deem it important for the Comelec to recognize the crucial role of elections watchdogs such as Namfrel, Kontra Daya, and BaBaE! Network in providing information and making elections irregularities public to ensure a transparent, honest, and peaceful elections. Thus, it is imperative that these organizations are given access to information and data so the public will know all about the electoral issues.
For the longest time, Philippine elections have always been shrouded with controversies related to electoral fraud. Since 2010, issues on transparency became a major concern because of the transition to automated elections.
This 2019 midterm elections, more questions are raised amid the pilot of new technology called Voter Registration Verification System, which requires voters to undergo digital verification before they can vote. Voter Registration Verification Machines (VRVM) will be introduced for the first time to voters in 14 vote-rich provinces and cities in the country: Manila, Quezon City, Davao City, Pangasinan, Cavite, Cebu, Negros Occidental, Zamboanga del Sur, Davao del Sur, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Caloocan City, Iloilo, Nueva Ecija, and Misamis Oriental.
Introduction of new technology to the public, as well as previous experiences of technical problems encountered with Precinct Count Optical Scanners (PCOS), now called vote-counting machines or VCM, makes the results of elections vulnerable to vote-rigging and widespread voters’ disenfranchisement.
Thus, the presence of elections watchdogs is more important now than ever to ensure that the public are supplied with updated information regarding their votes and to assure them that elections are conducted free of fraud.
In this light, we call on the public, all the democracy-loving Filipinos to remain vigilant as the midterm elections draw near. We appeal that they join all the elections watchdogs in ensuring that this midterm elections will reflect the interest of the common Filipinos, and not of the ruling political dynasties and personalities. (By Bantayan ang Eleksyon! Network)