Comelec gives side on Namfrel issue

Commission on Elections

THE Commission on Elections yesterday clarified that it has yet to decide on the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections’ bid for accreditation for the Open Election Data project that was supposed to give Namfrel access to digital trail of the votes that will be cast in the May 13 elections.

Director Frances Arabe of the Comelec Education and Information Department issued the clarification in the wake of the Namfrel’s pullout as Comelec’s partner for the May elections.

Namfrel’s move was allegedly prompted by Comelec’s supposed denial of its accreditation bid for the Open Election Data project and just limiting its accreditation to performing the random manual audit and the monitoring preparations for the elections.

‘’It is not correct to say that their accreditation was denied because wala pang resolution ang commission en banc on that. Nauna lang yung [pagbigay sa kanila ng accreditation sa random manual audit. With their withdrawal, we take it to mean na hindi na sila interesado to partner with us], and that is why we are looking for interested parties to do the random manual audit,” Arabe said.

Namfrel Secretary General Eric Alvia, however, maintained that Namfrel’s lack of access for digital trail of vote transmission would mean a less transparent counting of votes.

Alvia said that while Namfrel would still have access to the election returns even without the accreditation for Open Data Election Project, having copies of election returns won’t be enough to secure the integrity of the polls.

“Kulang po yun ER eh. Ito na po kasi yung na blindside tayo from the previous three automated elections. Iisa nga ang source natin, isang transparency server, kaya dapat may independent validation of digital trail. Sa bilangan, kailangan malaman ano oras at saan pinadala ang balota, sino nagpadala. Yung sa election returns, aggregated na yung eh. Paano natin maeensure ang fidelity ng election results na pinapadala?” he said,

Comelec Commissioner Luie Guia earlier said that random manual audit of votes need not have access to such digital trail since previous random manual audit of votes for automated polls did not involve such digital footprint data.