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PPCRV, Namfrel war spills into local level

By NEWSBREAK

One group is reportedly blocking another’s access to election returns

MANILA, Philippines—While concerns are being raised by various
sectors about glitches in the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS)
machines and the potential questionable results of the elections,
Church-backed election watchdogs can’t get their acts together.

The
“silent war” between the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting
(PPCRV) and the National Citizens Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel)
has spilled into the local level, splitting their volunteer base.

Traditionally,
PPCRV and Namfrel have shared the same volunteers since they both tap
the social action centers and youth apostolate of the Catholic Church.
PPCRV’s strong point is on poll education and poll watching, while
Namfrel’s strength is on the technical aspect, like quick count
operations in manual polls.

At the national level, PPCRV and
Namfrel officials are at odds, with PPCRV blocking the poll
accreditation of Namfrel before the Commission on Elections. Namfrel
had wanted to conduct the random audit of the results but PPRCV
objected, arguing before Comelec that such task was given to the latter
when the poll body approved its accreditation.

Memo to coordinators

The quarrel between these 2 erstwhile partners did not end here.

PPRCV
chair Henrietta de Villa has issued a memorandum dated April 20
reminding PPRCV diocesan coordinators that the Comelec granted the
accreditation to PPCRV as a national entity, “and not separately or
individually to our local diocesan chapters.”

The memorandum was
prompted by reports reaching the PPCRV national office that some
coordinators “have been approached by some electoral groups for the use
of the 4th copy of the elections returns and asking to partner with
PPCRV for their parallel count.”

Although not specifically
mentioned, the electoral group being referred to is clearly Namfrel.
Namfrel is bent on conducting its own parallel count, in partnership
with other citizen’s groups.

But Namfrel can only perform the parallel count if it has copy of the election returns (ERs).

In
an apparent effort to block the sharing of ERs, De Villa reminded the
coordinators that “any partnerships, alliances, memorandum of agreement
or any such instruments, which will include or involve any or all
privileges, tasks and mandate of PPCRV,” will have to cleared first
with the national executive board.

She also pointed out that the
4th copy of the ER that is provided to the PPCRV “is for the particular
purpose of conducting our own internal parallel count.”

Controlling data

Namfrel
officials say that PPCRV, in its effort to further undermine Namfrel’s
parallel count, has also asked the Comelec for the 27th-30th copies of
ER that will be generated by the PCOS machines.

Under the
automation law, the 27th to 30th copies of the ER are supposed to be
given to the 4 major citizen’s arms, including the accredited citizen’s
arm, and other non-partisan groups or organizations. “Such citizen’s
arms, groups and organizations may use the 4 certified copies of the ER
for the conduct of citizen’s quick counts at the local or national
level,” the law said.

In a phone interview, PPCRV chair Howard
Calleja denied that PPCRV wanted the 27th to 30th ERs for PPCRV use
only. Calleja said PPCRV only wanted the 4th and the 27th copies.

But
Namfrel officials were unconvinced. They pointed out that there appears
to be an attempt by PPCRV to control data by refusing access by other
groups.

They said a resolution is about to be issued granting the
26th to 30th ERs solely for PPCRV use. Abs-cbnnews.com/Newsbreak sought
to confirm this with 2 election commissioners, but they have not
replied as of this posting.

For instance, while the Comelec has
granted accreditation to the Legal Network for Truthful Elections or
Lente as a poll watchdog, it has not granted the group access to ER
like what it granted to PPCRV.

PPCRV and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas on Tuesday inked an agreement to conduct parallel count of the votes.

Concerns
that widespread cheating could also be done in the automated polls have
prompted some electoral groups to push for a parallel manual count to
test the credibility of the results.

Comelec, however, has rejected the proposal.

The
automation law provides that random manual audit can be done only in 1%
of the precincts per district. The Comelec has said it can consider
covering up to 5%. But some groups want a 100% manual parallel count. (abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak)

RELATED STORIES
• NAMFREL aims to better PPCRV in watchdog role

• NAMFREL seeks bishops’ help in tiff with PPCRV

• ‘Silent war’ between PPCRV and NAMFREL worsens

• Namfrel, PPCRV cut ties with CBCP-Nassa

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