February 15, 2018
PHILIPPINES
Namfrel supports the holding of Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls as scheduled on May 14, 2018
The National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel), urges Congress to no longer postpone the holding of the two polls.  The Commission on Elections announced that these polls are scheduled on May 14, 2018, and preparations are underway for holding them despite moves by House representatives to postpone it further to October 2018 (see House Bill no. 7072 filed Jan. 31, 2018).
 
Having regular elections is an exercise of and in democracy and the current set of barangay officials, would need a fresh mandate from the people they serve. In a truly functioning democracy, regularly renewing the mandate of elected officials is an exercise of good governance.
 
Many expressed that it is high time for voters to judge the performance of the barangay officials and to replace erring ones via the ballot. Postponing the elections, which Congress has twice done already, “brings about a sense of caution and instability” among the village officials.
 
Martial law in Mindanao, do not seem to be an obstacle in holding the polls. However, the war on drugs waged by the government and the allegation that 40 percent of village officials are involved in drugs are destabilizing factors.  
 
While some are of the opinion that the SK should be abolished altogether, Republic Act 10742 passed in 2016 introduced new features such as an anti-dynasty provision and the creation of the Local Youth Development Council, may provide reforms to return the SK to its original role as it was envisioned. 
 
Namfrel sees independence and quality of the contest as key structural challenges facing these two elections.  
 
Read the full position paper at: http://www.namfrel.com.ph/v2/2018/Namfrel%20Statement%20on%20Brgy%20&%20SK%20Elections.pdf
Barangay, SK polls to push through on May 14 —DILG, Comelec
(GMA News, Feb 6, 2018)


The barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections will definitely push through on May 14, the Department of Interior and Local Government said Tuesday as it launched its nationwide campaign encouraging the public to vote for good leaders.

Commission on Elections spokesperson James Jimenez said this is the third time the local elections was rescheduled.


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Comelec 85% ready for barangay, SK polls (PhilStar, Feb 8, 2018)

MANILA, Philippines — Three months before the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections, an official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said preparations are 85 percent complete.

The poll body’s spokesman James Jimenez said the printing of ballots and other election materials is finished.

“The (inclusion of) additional registrants will be done very soon. Most of the primary bidding was done before October,” Jimenez said yesterday.  

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COMELEC ready to print ballots for barangay polls
(Politiko, Feb 8, 2018)


The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is set to print an additional 18 million ballots for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls on May 14.

Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez noted that the ballots are for new registrants and for Mindanao voters.

“The bulk of preparation is in the printing of ballots for the additional registrants during the November 2017 registration,” he said.

Jimenez added that they are looking to start the ballot printing on February 15, noting that the process will take 20 days.

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House wants to strengthen Comelec powers to regulate propaganda
(Manila Bulletin, Nov 13, 2017)
 
Chaired by CIBAC Partylist Rep. Sherwin Tugna, the House panel endorsed approval of House Bill 6604, a consolidated measure seeking to regulate the rates of political propaganda on television,radio and print during an electoral campaign period.

The House Committee on Suffrage has moved to strengthen the power of the Commission on Elections to regulate the rates of political propaganda on television, radio and print media to stop certain establishments from milking candidates during political campaign season.
 
Comelec calls for trash-free campaign at low-cost
(PNA, Feb 11, 2018)


MANILA — An official of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is reminding aspiring Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) and barangay officials who will participate in the May 14 polls to minimize their expenses, as such polls should be inexpensive.

“Barangay elections are supposed to be inexpensive. I mean, after all, if you think you have a shot at winning, and why would you file your candidacy if you didn’t, you must already be known to a vast majority of your electorate. Why would you need a lot of money just to tell them to vote for you? They’re either going to or they’re not, right?” Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez wrote in a blog post.

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Bacolod lacks teachers for barangay, SK polls
(Manila Times, Feb 9, 2018)


BACOLOD CITY: With the May 14 barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections barely three months away, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) office here said it will look for vo­lunteers because there are not enough tea­chers to man the polling precincts in this city.

Mavil Majatucon–Sia, Bacolod elections officer, said only half of the required 2,538 members of the Electoral Board and Barangay Board of Canvassers are available or willing to render poll duties.

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Comelec appeals to teachers: Serve in May brgy, SK polls
(SunStar, Feb 10, 2018)


BACOLOD City Election Registrar Mavil Majarucon-Sia appealed to public school teachers to serve in the synchronized barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections on May 14. 

Majarucon-Sia said Friday that on February 7, she met with City Schools Division Superintendent Cynthia Demavivas after some of the teachers, who are members of Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)-Negros signified not to serve in the barangay and SK elections. 

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Barangays ordered to inventory properties, records
(SunStar, Feb 11, 2018)


INTERIOR and Local Government officer-in-charge Eduardo Año has directed each barangay to create a team that will conduct an inventory of its properties and records in preparation for a possible change of leadership after the elections scheduled for May. 

Año said the Barangay Inventory Team (BIT) will be composed of the barangay chairman as head and two barangay councilors, a barangay secretary, a barangay treasurer, a bookkeeper or city or municipal representative and at least two civil society organization (CSO) representatives as members. The CSO representatives should come from either a faith-based organization or the Barangay Development Council. 

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Namfrel would prefer Comelec lease VCMs than purchase them
(Manila Bulletin, Feb 4, 2018)


The National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) would prefer that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) lease the vote counting machines (VCMs) used in the May 2016 polls than purchase them for the 2019 midterm polls.

Namfrel secretary general Eric Alvia said this is so that Comelec won’t have to pay for its maintenance and storage.

“If the AES (automated election system) technology choice was for the reuse of the VCM, we would prefer a lease agreement,” he said in an interview.

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Suarez: Probe purchase of machines used in 'contentious' 2016 polls
(Rappler, Feb 7, 2018)


MANILA, Philippines – Citing supposed irregularities and allegations of cheating in the recent 2016 elections, House minority leader Danilo Suarez filed on Monday, February 5, a resolution calling on the House to investigate the Commission on Elections (Comelec)’s decision to purchase vote-counting machines (VCMs) for the coming 2019 polls.

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Smartmatic again in 2019
(Manila Times, Feb 7, 2018)


Smartmatic machines will again be used in the 2019 national and local elections (NLE). This was revealed during the organizational meeting of joint congressional oversight committee on the automated election system held last January 31, 2018. The poll body chose to exercise the option to purchase (OTP) the vote counting machines used in the 2016 NLE.

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The cost of vote-counting machines
(Manila Standard, Feb 8, 2018)


The Commission on Elections is buying over 97,000 vote-counting machines from Venezuelan-owned Smartmatic Corporation. This purchase did not go through public bidding as the Commission decided to exercise its “option to purchase” the machines. According to Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez, the Commission is purchasing the VCMs for P2.2 billion. These are exactly the same machines it leased from Smartmatic for P8 billion during the 2016 elections.

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Ballot recount for Marcos-Robredo election protest set on March 19
(Rappler, Feb 8, 2018)


MANILA, Philippines – After a heated week for the camps of Vice President Leni Robredo and her rival Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, the ballot recount for the electoral protest involving the two was scheduled on March 19.

Robredo's lawyer Bernadette Sardillo as well as Marcos' legal counsels Vic Rodriguez and George Garcia confirmed to Rappler that they had been briefed by the Supreme Court (SC), acting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), regarding the date of the start of the recount.

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Robredo camp: Marcos signed wrong pleading
(PhilStar, Feb 7, 2018)


MANILA, Philippines — After challenging the camp of Vice President Leni Robredo to withdraw pending motions in the electoral protest, the camp of former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos signed a wrong document.

On Tuesday, elections lawyer Romulo Macalintal—counsel of Robredo—signed the motion to withdraw all pending motions that may delay the election recount.

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Robredo lawyer: Poll fraud claim should be raised with Comelec
(CNN Philippines, Feb 8, 2018)


Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 8) —  The lawyer of Vice President Leni Robredo debunked claims by former Senator Bongbong Marcos of poll fraud as his complaint was about previously approved changes to the ballot format.

"If they just asked Comelec, and they participated in the source code review, they wouldn't be surprised with the new feature," Bernadette Sardillo, Robredo's legal counsel, told CNN Philippines The Source Tuesday.

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Comelec begins decryption of ballots in Tolentino poll protest
(Inquirer, Feb 5, 2018)


MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday started the decryption of ballot images in connection with the 2016 election protest of senatorial bet Francis Tolentino against Senator Leila De Lima at the poll body’s main office.

In a statement, Comelec said the activity was witnessed by representatives of the Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET).

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Senate panel seeks arrest warrant vs ex-Comelec chief Bautista
(Rappler, Feb 12, 2018)


MANILA, Philippines – Senate banks committee chairman Francis Escudero is seeking an arrest warrant against former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista for repeatedly skipping hearings on his alleged ill-gotten wealth.

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INTERNATIONAL
 
Hundreds gather at Bangkok's Democracy Monument to demand election (Straits Times, Feb 10, 2018)

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - Around four hundred people gathered at a monument to democracy in the Thai capital on Saturday (Feb 10) to urge the military government not to delay a national election planned later this year, in one of the biggest anti-junta demonstrations since the military took power in 2014.

Elections to restore democracy have been postponed several times with November being latest date set by Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who was appointed by a military-backed legislature following a coup in 2014.

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Sri Lanka’s former strongman calls for snap elections (Washington Post, Feb 12, 2018)

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — Sri Lanka’s former strongman called Monday for snap parliamentary elections after the party he fielded as a proxy swept local elections in a major blow to the reformist government elected just three years ago.

Mahinda Rajapaksa said that the government had lost its mandate to govern and that the people must be given a chance to elect a new parliament.

According to unofficial results, the Rajapaksa-backed Sri Lanka People’s Front, won more than 230 local councils out of the 341 that were up for grabs on Saturday.

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Sri Lanka’s new electoral quota is seeing thousands of women run for office (Quartz, Feb 12, 2018)

Being among the relatively few top female politicians in South Asia isn’t easy. One of Sri Lanka’s most prominent female politicians, Rosy Senanayake, at the time a lawmaker in parliament, was once told by the transport minister that he was unable to respond to her question because she was too beautiful.

But an electoral experiment that’s just beginning in Sri Lanka—and that has long been sought by female politicians and activists in the country, including Senanayake—aims to bring a lot more women into office, and hopefully eventually into higher office.

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Malaysia sentences opposition lawmaker to jail ahead of polls (Channel News Asia, Feb 7, 2018)

KUALA LUMPUR: A Malaysian court on Wednesday (Feb 7) sentenced an opposition lawmaker to jail for revealing confidential bank details in a 2012 graft scandal, a potential blow on the opposition ahead of national polls that must be held by August.

Rafizi Ramli is a senior leader with the People's Justice Party (PKR) and the ruling could dent the opposition challenge to scandal-tainted Prime Minister Najib Razak in the elections.

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Trouble in paradise: All you need to know about the Maldives’ ongoing political crisis (CNBC, Feb 8, 2018)

In an unexpected move last week, the Maldives Supreme Court ordered the release of several imprisoned opposition lawmakers, ruling that their trials were politically motivated.

President Abdulla Yameen refused to comply with the decision and instead imposed a state of emergency for a period of 15 days.

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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
E-mail: namfrel.secretariat@namfrel.com.ph
Tel. : (632) 788-3484 / (632) 736-0969
Telefax: (632) 470-4151
Mobile:  (63) 939-1102872 / (63) 927-2443781
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