NOVEMBER 3, 2017
PHILIPPINES
ANFREL, NAMFREL and NDI to conduct a Roundtable Discussion on Transparency and Integrity of Elections in Southeast Asia on November 10-12, 2017
The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL), the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) in partnership with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) will hold a Roundtable Discussion on Transparency and Integrity of Elections to be held on November 10-12, 2017 in Manila, Philippines.
 
As a follow-up to the 3rd Asian Electoral Stakeholders Forum (AESF III) held August 2016 in Bali, Indonesia; the event will gather participants from ASEAN election monitoring organizations (EMOs) and election management bodies (EMBs) in a series of discussions which will delve on the state of integrity of elections in Southeast Asia.
 
Fast-paced and emerging developments in the region call for a need for constant communication and cooperation among different election stakeholders in order to face issues which ultimately cast doubt on the integrity of the process. Transparency and integrity were identified as a crucial factor for successful elections during the AESF III, which concluded with the Bali Commitment of 2016.
 
Discussions will delve deeply on the state of transparency in their respective states, the challenges and successes, and follow through on commitments to promote and improve transparency and integrity in elections. It will also tackle emerging practices such as the use of open data, identify possible actions among actors in the region to strengthen collaboration among civil society and election management bodies to continue safeguarding the electoral processes.
Christian Lim named acting
Comelec chief
(ABS-CBN News, Oct 24, 2017)

 
MANILA- Poll Commissioner Christian Robert Lim has been assigned as acting chairman of the Commission on Elections. Lim was chosen via a unanimous vote of poll commissioners present during the Comelec en banc Tuesday, the poll body's spokesperson James Jimenez said. Lim's assignment comes after President Rodrigo Duterte accepted the resignation of Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista, effective immediately.
 
Lim, the most senior among commissioners, started his term last April 7, 2011 and will retire by February 2, 2018. This means that if the poll body applied the old process of selecting an acting chair, which did not require voting, Lim would still be chosen due to seniority. Lim also acted as chairman of Comelec during the retirement of the election body's former head, Sixto Brilliantes. Lim handled the initial preparations for the 2016 presidential elections which was won by Duterte.
 
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No Comelec chairman has served full seven-year term since 1987
(Manila Bulletin, Oct 27, 2017)

 
Did you know that no chairman of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has served a full seven-year term since 1987? In his Twitter account, Comelec Commissioner Luie Guia said: No COMELEC Chair ever has served the full 7-year term of office for the position since the effectivity of the 1987 Constitution. The poll official posted this in his Twitter account October 23, Monday, the day Andres Bautista officially stepped down from his post as Comelec head.
 
Bautista stepped down after Malacañang informed him that President Duterte has accepted his resignation “effective immediately.” This means that whoever will be appointed as poll chief by Duterte would serve the remaining term of Bautista. Bautista became head of the poll body in May 2015.
 
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Poll group lists criteria for next Comelec chief
(BusinessMirror, Oct 26, 2017)
 
POLL watchdog group Kontra Daya on Thursday urged President Duterte to appoint a Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman who is willing to look into and resolve various issues and cases that had tarnished the commission’s image.
 
In a news statement, Kontra Daya convener Prof. Danilo Arao said the replacement of resigned Comelec Chairman Andres D. Bautista should be his exact opposite in terms of dealing with the problems confronting the poll body.


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2018 barangay, SK polls voter registration set Nov 6 to 30 
(Rappler, Oct 24, 2017)
 
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will resume the registration of voters following the recent postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.
 
In Comelec Resolution No. 10214 promulgated on Tuesday, October 24, the poll body scheduled the resumption of voters' registration from November 6 to 30, 2017.
 
Members of the Katipunan ng Kabataan who will be 15 years old by election day and regular voters for the barangay elections can register for the May 14, 2018 village and youth council polls.
 
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OFWs urged to register for 2019 midterm polls
(Manila Bulletin, Oct 28, 2017)

 
Overseas Filipino workers were urged by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to register and be qualified to vote in the May, 2019 midterm elections.
 
Comelec Commissioner Arthur Lim particularly issued the call to OFWs who will be returning to the country to be with their family this Christmas.
 
“I invite and appeal to them to register this Christmas break for the 2019 mid-term senatorial and local elections,” said the head of the Comelec Office for Overseas Voting (OFOV).
 
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Comelec to store barangay, SK poll materials in Laguna warehouse
(Inquirer, Oct 18, 2017)

 
MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will store official ballots and other election supplies at their warehouse in Sta. Rosa, Laguna following the postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls.
 
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the 59.5 million official ballots and other election forms will be moved out of the National Printing Office (NPO) in Quezon City and transported to Laguna.
 
“We can’t store them at NPO. The Sta. Rosa facility, on the other hand, is available,” he said.
 
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Comelec begins decryption,
printing of ballot images in
Marcos’ poll protest
(Inquirer, Oct 24, 2017)

 
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has started to decrypt and print the ballot images from three pilot provinces that former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. cited in his election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.
 
The Comelec’s decrypting and printing of the ballot images from Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental commenced on Monday, following the directive of the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).
 
De Lima asks SET to cite Tolentino in contempt
(PhilStar, Oct 25, 2017)

 
MANILA, Philippines — Detained Sen. Leila de Lima yesterday asked the Senate Electoral Tribunal to cite in contempt defeated senatorial candidate Francis Tolentino for attempting to mislead the SET and the public in connection with his election protest case.
 
De Lima’s lawyers filed the motion, citing recent news reports quoting Tolentino as claiming there were ballots from the 2013 elections found in several ballot boxes in precincts of Calbayog City, Western Samar that were opened for the recount of contested votes in the 2016 senatorial elections.

 
Comelec to examine list
in 168 precincts
(Cebu Daily News, Oct 27, 2017)
 
The commission on Elections (Comelec) will soon begin the technical examination of election results from Cebu City precincts which had been the subject of an election protest by former mayor Michael Rama against Mayor Tomas Osmeña.
 
A letter signed by Comelec Second Division presiding commissioner Al Parreño received by Rama ordered the former mayor to pay a cash deposit so that the technical examination of the contested precincts can begin.
Solon fears of ‘No-El’ if
federalism bid fails
(Malaya, Oct 24, 2017)

 
An opposition lawmaker yesterday warned that members of the supermajority coalition at the House may eventually propose the postponement of the 2022 elections and extension of President Duterte’s term if time runs out on his proposal to revise the Constitution to pave the way for a shift to a federal form of government.
 
Rep. Teddy Baguilat (LP, Ifugao) said time is quickly running out on the proposed Charter change “and this is why there are talks going around (in Congress) that they (administration) may extend terms especially if the mode for constitutional change would be Constitutional Assembly (Con-Ass).
 
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Lawyer again questions ownership of Smartmatic in PH
(Rappler, Oct 25, 2017)

 
MANILA, Philippines – A lawyer on Wednesday, October 25, again raised questions on the ownership of the subsidiaries of Venezuela-based company Smartmatic, which provided the automated election system (AES) in the Philippines' last 3 polls.
 
In a media forum in San Juan City, Manuelito Luna presented documents showing that two subsidiaries of Smartmatic in the Philippines were "100% owned," supposedly in violation of the Anti-Dummy Law. Luna said the files were by London-based audit firm KPMG. One document is titled "Annual Report and Consolidated Financial Statements" as of December 31, 2016 for holding company SGO Corporation Limited, of which Smartmatic is a part of.

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A Filipino partner for the Comelec
(Manila Bulletin, Oct 26, 2017)

 

Buhay partylist Rep. Lito Atienza has called for a revision of the nation’s Automated Election System (AES) so that only a Filipino-owned organization will be allowed to carry out the election services provided by Smartmatic in previous Philippine elections.
 
If the Constitution restricts the ownership and management of Philippine mass media to 100 percent Filipino firms and limits foreigners to 40 percent of telecom firms and schools, he said, the more reason Philippine elections should be in the hands of Filipinos.
 
The congressman’s move is the latest effort from various quarters in the last few years to correct seeming deficiencies in the system of automated elections that began in the presidential election of 2010 after the enactment of the Election Automation Law of 2006.
 

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Preparations for the 2019 and subsequent elections
(Manila Times, Oct 25, 2017)

 
NINETEEN months. Countdown to May 2019 elections.
 
ONE of the first decisions that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has to make is the exercise of the option to purchase the VCMs, the erstwhile PCOS, used in the 2016 elections.
 
This is not the first time that the Comelec finds itself in a similar situation. Despite the recommendation of the Comelec Advisory Council for the 2010 elections not to re-use the PCOS machines, Comelec, under the stewardship of then Chairman Sixto Brillantes, exercised the option and bought the PCOS machines which were re-used in the 2013 elections. Chairman Brillantes, justifying the purchase, said that the PCOS machines could be used until the 2019 elections. With ownership of the PCOS came additional expenses, the biggest of which was warehousing.
 
Reform Addresses Need for Impartial Election Staff in the Philippines
(The Asia Foundation, Oct 18, 2017)
 
On October 2, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed a law postponing barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (youth) elections to May 2018—less than one month before they were scheduled to take place on October 23. The move marks the second postponement of local elections under Duterte, who claimed that the elections could interfere with his administration’s ongoing fight to eradicate drugs at the barangay level.
 
Had elections taken place, it would have been the first chance to implement the Election Service Reform Act (ESRA), a law signed in 2016 by then president Benigno Aquino that aims to reduce political interference by allowing public school teachers to opt out of election service on grounds of health, age, or security concerns. Previously, public school teachers in the Philippines were mandated to serve as election staff as stipulated in the Election Reforms Law of 1987. While this provided a capable and available workforce, one of the unintended consequences was the creation of incentives for politicians to influence teacher hiring, promotion, placements, and even use of local funds for education.
 

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Electoral reforms and the President
(BusinessWorld, Oct 16, 2017)
 
President Rodrigo Duterte has been on a rampage recently, repeating his warnings about declaring a “revolutionary government,” as if he has the authority to issue laws and orders without consideration or fear of opposition from independent-minded legislators.
 
Among his previous rants include his order to his loyal leaders in Congress to (a) impeach the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres D. Bautista, (b) impeach Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno, (c) impeach Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, and (d) create new rules in electoral exercises such as postponing and resetting the barangay elections.
 
Speaking of electoral reforms, some things are better retained and while others should be changed. 

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Privacy law, redaction imperil government’s anti-corruption drive
(ABS-CBN News, Oct 26, 2017)

 
Public access to information on the wealth and other financial transactions of government officials faces a roadblock, with another law providing a strong excuse against scrutiny.
 
The 1987 Constitution and Republic Act No. 6713, otherwise known as the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, require all government officials to file Statements of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN).
 
But some custodians of the SALN have recently used Republic Act 10173, or the Data Privacy Act, to keep portions of the SALN from the public, supposedly to protect the privacy of government officials.
 
INTERNATIONAL
Voter registration challenges electoral integrity: new report
(The University of Sydney, Oct 18, 2017)
 
Many countries such as the United Kingdom have pushed to make the process of voter registration easier and more inclusive. But these initiatives have also generated concern about the security and integrity of the voting process. How common are these problems?
 
More than half of elections worldwide were found to have problems in the voter registration process, according to a report by the Electoral Integrity Project (EIP) at the University of Sydney and Harvard University.
 
The Electoral Integrity Project’s (EIP) mid-year report compares 260 elections across 161 countries. It adds data on elections from 18 countries held between January and June 2017.
Making voting both simple and secure is a challenge for democracies
(The Conversation, Oct 19, 2017)
 
Recent elections around the world have raised concerns about the procedures used for voter registration and their potential consequences. The effects include disenfranchisement (voters being prevented from casting a ballot) and voter rights, fraud and security, and mismanagement and accuracy.
 
It’s critical to strike the right trade-off between making registration accessible and making it secure. But how many countries are affected by these sorts of issues? And which is more problematic – lack of security or lack of inclusion?
 
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Calls for internet voting grow after typhoon hits Japan election
(Nikkei Asian Review, Oct 28, 2017)
 
TOKYO - The chaos caused by a typhoon sweeping across Japan as the country went to the polls last Sunday has led to renewed calls for the introduction of internet voting.
 
The storm caused widespread disruption to the lower house election. Many voters struggled to make it to polling stations and a number of local authorities were unable to count ballots the same day.
 
Both experts and a younger generation of Japanese voters have expressed a desire for voting to be made easier through technology.
 
But, while it could undoubtedly help boost voter turnout, there are a number of hurdles that stand in the way.
Can Asia handle parallel rise of strongmen in Japan and China?
(South China Morning Post, Oct 29, 2017)
 
Strongman politics have made a comeback in Asia with the leaders of the two biggest economies in the region granted even more power.
 
President Xi Jinping, China’s most influential leader in decades, emerged from the five-yearly party congress on Tuesday with an even tighter grip on the nation after being elevated to almost godlike status, equalling the late communist founder Mao Zedong.
 
Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s mandate was strengthened after his Liberal Democratic Party coalition won a landslide victory in a snap election on Sunday. With a two-thirds supermajority in the Diet, the parliament, Abe is able to hold on to office for a third term, putting him on track to become Japan’s most influential and longest-serving leader since the end of the second world war. 
 

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Malaysia: Najib unveils
'Mother of all Budgets'

(The Straits Times, Oct 28, 2017)
 
Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak yesterday announced increased government spending next year that is clearly steered towards subsidies and social assistance, as he unveiled "the Mother of all Budgets" ahead of tough national elections expected to be called within months.
 
Everyone from babies to imams, and fishermen to retirees, will get something, as he unveiled a buffet of goodies to reduce widespread grouses about the high cost of living.
 
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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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