OCTOBER 13, 2017
PHILIPPINES
Augusto “Gus” Lagman published a paper on Understanding the Automated Election Systems
Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner, ex-NAMFREL Systems Committee Head and IT practitioner Augusto G. Lagman has a new publication entitled “Understanding the Automated Elections Systems”. The monograph is intended as a guide to understanding the Philippine Automated Election System (AES). Through the monograph, the author aims to help voters and government officials understand the system for them to make informed judgments and take action on unresolved AES issues and see the urgent need to rectify the errors and shortcomings revealed in its implementations.

The monograph presents to the readers the study that should have been undertaken before the decision to procure the system was made. It presents certain aspects of elections in relation to the options that may be taken as to the “most suitable” automated system as required by law. Specifically, this monograph will discuss the old manual system, its shortcomings, the automated system implemented in 2010, 2013, and 2016, its shortcomings, and the recommended systems solution. Published by NAMFREL and Transparentelections.org, it is available HERE.
NAMFREL weighs in on Constitutional Amendments
The House Committee on Constitutional Amendments invited NAMFREL as one of the resource persons to the Committees September 25 meeting and initial discussions to review Articles III-Bill of Rights, IV-Citizenship, V-Suffrage, VIII-Judicial Department, IX-Constitutional Commissions and XVII-Amendments  or Revisions of the 1987 Philippine Constitution.  A series of meetings will be convened in order to come up with a Committee draft of a Philippine Federal Constitution.

The hearing opened with a discussion of the pros and cons of opting for strengthening autonomy / decentralization as against moves towards a shift to federalism.  NAMFREL’s initial comments focused on upholding the rights to suffrage and representation (Article V) and comments to Article IX.C, or matters specific to the reorganization of the Commission on Elections.

As initiatives are being rolled out, NAMFREL exhorted the Committee and various advocates to deepen, broaden and make inclusive the discourse and debate on plans to move from a unitary to a federal system. In the coming months, NAMFREL along with partner stakeholders such as the Task Force Eleksyon (TFE) consortium will conduct collectively or individually community-based information sessions and discussion to make ordinary citizens sentiments be heard and considered.
House impeaches Comelec chief after he said he was resigning
(Inquirer, Oct. 11, 2017)

 
Hours after Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Andres Bautista announced on Wednesday his plan to resign on Dec. 31, the House of Representatives voted 137-75-2 to impeach him.

Members of the House justice committee, who earlier dismissed the impeachment complaint against Bautista for having a defective verification form, were outvoted in the plenary.

Deputy Speaker Raneo Abu directed the committee to prepare the articles of impeachment to be transmitted to the Senate, which will act as an impeachment court and hold a trial.

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Duterte appointee to lead Comelec as plebiscite looms
(Rappler, Oct. 11, 2017)

MANILA, Philippines – With the resignation of elections chief Andres Bautista, an appointee of President Rodrigo Duterte will lead the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as the agency prepares for a possible plebiscite for a new Philippine constitution.

The new Comelec chairman will serve the unexpired term of Bautista, an Aquino appointee, until February 2, 2022. He or she will become Duterte's first appointee to the poll body.

Bautista's successor will also oversee a plebiscite if Congress or a constitutional convention succeeds in proposing amendments to, or revisions of, the 1987 Constitution.

 
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Duterte says Ombudsman Morales will face impeachment case
(Inquirer, Oct. 4, 2017)

 
President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said an impeachment complaint will be filed against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales for “conspiracy” to oust the President and “selective justice.”

“We will file an impeachment (case) against her (Morales) and I would tend to believe she was part of the conspiracy,” Duterte told reporters in a press conference in Malacañang.
 
The President believes Morales was part of the “conspiracy” to oust him through the investigations into his alleged unexplained wealth, which supposedly amounts to billions.
He said the grounds for impeachment would be “selective justice” and the use of “falsified documents.”

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Speaker to CJ: Resign or be impeached
(PhilStar, Oct. 12, 2017)
 
MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez urged Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno last night to resign to avoid a Senate impeachment trial.

He made the call in a radio interview minutes after the House of Representatives, in a swift turn of events, voted to impeach Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista, reversing the dismissal of the complaint against him by the committee on justice.

“We have a stronger case against the Chief Justice. We have complete documents. If there is something she doesn’t want to be exposed, she should resign,” Alvarez said.
Impeachment is for accountability not for personal motives, lawyers say
(GMA News, Oct. 12, 2017)

Former Comelec chair Christian Monsod on Thursday said the process of impeachment should be used for accountability and not for autocracy.

"Impeachment for accountability or for autocracy? The short answer is of course accountability. That is why the impeachment process was liberalized... It's primary purpose as a remedial process to maintain constitutional government and not personal punishment,"

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No End to Duterte’s Abusive Prosecution of ‘Drug War’ Critic
(Human Rights Watch, Oct. 10, 2017)

 
The Philippine Supreme Court on Tuesday dashed hopes it would overturn the politically motivated prosecution of the highest-profile critic of President Rodrigo Duterte’s murderous “war on drugs.”

The court voted 9 to 6 to uphold the arrest and detention of Senator Leila de Lima on drug charges. De Lima, a former justice secretary, has been an outspoken critic of Duterte’s anti-drug campaign that independent nongovernmental organizations and media outlets estimate has resulted in the deaths of more than 12,000 people over the past 15 months.

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Comelec resolves to discontinue all activities for barangay, SK polls
(Manila Bulletin, Oct. 7, 2017)


The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has resolved to discontinue all activities performed for the Barangay and Sanguniang Kabataan elections following President Duterte’s approval to reset the elections.

In a resolution issued by the Comelec signed by Chairman Andres Bautista and other commissioners on Oct. 4, 2017, the poll body ordered to discontinue all ongoing and still to be performed activities, including the enforcement of prohibited acts, in connection with the supposed Oct.23, 2017 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections, unless otherwise ordered by the Commission.

Under Resolution 10212, Comelec also directed all officials of the Commission and its deputies “to preserve and maintain all documents, forms and supplies pertaining to the Oct. 31, 2016 and Oct. 23, 2017 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections that are in their custody, until further orders from the Commission.”

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Demand accountability for the postponement of barangay election
(Rappler, Oct. 7, 2017)


Barely 3 weeks before the scheduled elections, and after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) had spent P700 million in its preparations, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 10952 on October 2, postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections originally slated for October 23, 2017.

Reacting to the announcement, the Comelec, through its spokesperson James Jimenez, oddly “welcomed” the news, rather than meeting it with indignation – not only for Congress’ belated action, but for practically throwing away P700 million of the taxpayer’s money. In doing so, Comelec missed that crucial opportunity to make a point by calling out Congress to be decisive on the issue of postponement the next time around. As in the past years, the cancellation came at the last few ticking minutes before the scheduled elections.

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Robredo counsel shrugs
off “undervotes”
(Manila Bulletin, Oct. 10, 2017)


The lawyer of Vice President Leni Robredo dismissed on Tuesday the issue of “undervotes” raised by former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., saying that he “does not fully comprehend the nature of his election protest.”

“For the position of Vice President, ‘undervotes’ simply mean that no vote was cast. The right to vote includes the right not to vote,” Robredo’s lawyer Romulo Macalintal said.
 
The veteran election lawyer was reacting to Marcos’ statement that he was definitely sure that he could have won the vice presidency “if only his votes were correctly counted.”

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If federalism is the solution,
what is the main problem?
(BusinessMirror, Oct. 8, 2017)

 
While different entities offer divergent views on federalism, they are, however, united in saying that a shift to a federal system of government is not a new idea.

However, for Philippine Institute for Development Studies (PIDS) President Gilberto Llanto, if Federalism is being touted as a solution, it should address a problem.

“Policy-makers should see merit in examining whether federalism can, indeed, address the sociopolitical and economic problems that hamper the country’s growth.”

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INTERNATIONAL
Kyrgyzstan to vote in Central Asia's first real election
(Nikkei Asian Review, Oct. 11, 2017)

 
BISHKEK/EDINBURGH, U.K. -- Kyrgyzstan will vote on Sunday in the first genuinely competitive leadership election in Central Asia
.
The vote on Oct. 15 is Kyrgyzstan's second presidential election since a revolution in 2010 but its first competitive one, a watershed for a region more closely associated with Soviet-tinged autocratic leaders.

Campaigning has been fraught, bordering on the furious -- a petri-dish for Western-style democracy in Central Asia and a counterbalance to the media crackdowns and the flaccid political discourse that have dominated the region since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

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Thailand: An election is inevitable, but will it be free and fair?
(The Nation, Oct. 12, 2017)

 
Premier General Prayut Chan-o-cha’s announcement that a general election will take place in November next year is welcome, though there is good reason to doubt it will be his last word on the subject.

The road map to elections is brandished every time the junta chief travels to a democratic country, most notably during trips to the United States and Japan.

The ongoing confusion is fuelling hot debate in Thailand over the timeline of the so-called road map to an election, if not full-fledged democracy.

It seems that General Prayut, who led a military coup to topple an elected civilian government in May 2014, enjoys paying lip service to this subject.

+ READ MORE
 
 
Africa is leading the way in
election technology
(WEForum, Oct. 9, 2017)

 
African democracies are in the process of co-ordinating a generation jump in applied technology. So far, they have actually done a remarkable job by global standards. After all, something like electronic voting is still not used in the UK, where people in raincoats wait patiently while someone with a pencil draws a line through their name on a paper spreadsheet. The rain-sodden voter drips into the polling booth and makes a choice, casts their vote with a pencil on a sheet of paper, and shuffles outside again while putting up an ineffectual umbrella. Nothing has changed for 100 years.

It’s Africa that has led the way – and the West isn’t the place to look for immediate answers for all the problems of running a 21st-century election. One such problem is the use of multiple forms of electronic voting. Voter identification by electronic means is given priority in Nigeria, but even there, it’s not implemented consistently: there are different systems provided by different companies, all submitting tenders on a competitive basis.

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Kenya bans opposition protests as election crisis deepens
(The Guardian, Oct. 12, 2017)


Kenya’s government has banned protests in three city centres, citing lawlessness during opposition rallies against the electoral commission before a scheduled presidential vote rerun.

The opposition leader, Raila Odinga, has called for daily protests next week to keep up pressure on election officials, after his refusal to take part in the 26 October poll plunged the country into uncertainty.

“Due to the clear, present and imminent danger of breach of peace, the government notifies the public that, for the time being, we will not allow demonstrations within the central business districts of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu,” said the security minister, Fred Matiangi. “The inspector general of police has been advised accordingly.”

+ READ MORE
Islamic intolerance rising in
pre-election Malaysia
(Asia Times, Oct. 12, 2017)

 
A string of racial and religious incidents in Malaysia has brought concerns of rising Islamic conservatism to the fore, widening the divide between Muslims and non-Muslims as the government plays on identity issues ahead of what is expected to be a jarring and contentious election season.

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NAMFREL NEWS is a bi-monthly electronic newsletter published by the
National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), Philippines.
National Citizens' Movement For Free Elections (NAMFREL)
Unit 601, DMG Center, Domingo M. Guevarra St.,
Brgy. Mauway, Mandaluyong City, Philippines
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