MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has accredited the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) as its citizens’ arm for the 2013 elections, the poll body said in a resolution released Friday, November 23.
In the resolution penned by Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento, the poll body cited PPCRV’s “track record as one of the commission’s staunch allies in ensuring clean, orderly, peaceful, and honest elections.” The Comelec also said that the PPCRV, a Catholic group, has an “established” membership and structure nationwide.
The PPCRV will perform the following duties as citizens’ arm, according to Comelec:
- to serve as poll watchdogs in various precincts
- to assist voters – especially senior citizens, persons with disabilities, pregnant women, detainees, indigenous peoples, and other vulnerable Filipinos – on election day
- to assist the Comelec in information and education drives
The Comelec, for its part, should do the following for PPCRV:
- to provide electronic copies of the computerized voters’ list and the project of precincts
- to provide the 4th copy of election returns printed by precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines before transmission for an unofficial count
The PPCRV also served as Comelec citizens’ arm in the 2010 elections.
What about Namfrel?
A group seen as PPCRV’s rival, the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) has also filed a petition before the Comelec to accredit it as a citizens’ arm.
In a text message to Rappler, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the Comelec has not ruled on Namfrel’s petition. He said PPCRV’s accreditation, however, is not necessarily a hindrance. “We can have multiple citizens’ arms for various purposes,” Jimenez said.
Namfrel also applied to become a Comelec citizens’ arm in 2010, but the poll body denied its petition. The poll body cited, among other things, the duplication of election monitoring that the PPCRV was already expected to do. Namfrel filed an appeal but later conceded.
“We have decided to withdraw our request for accreditation because we can’t do our activities without Comelec accreditation. It’s our feeling that they will delay and delay, then we will not be ready for it anymore,” said Namfrel spokesperson Damaso Magbual in a story published by Newsbreak in 2010.
It was the first time since 1983 that Namfrel did not serve as Comelec citizens’ arm.
During the 2010 elections itself, a “silent war” between Namfrel and PPCRV spilled over to the local level, with one group reportedly having blocked the other group’s access to election returns.
Namfrel even had to seek help from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines in its tiff with PPCRV, Newsbreak reported in 2010. – Rappler.com