Press Release: Comelec-Private Sector Agreement in Jeopardy

Leaders of the private sector today asked the Comelec to put guidelines in place to help ensure the credibility of the elections by fulfilling an agreement made during a five-hour dialogue they had with Comelec officials last April 16.

In a letter to Comelec Chair Jose Melo and the Comelec Commissioners, Chair Gus Lagman and Alyansa Agrikultura Chair Ernesto Ordonez asked the Comelec to fulfill an earlier agreement that would help ensure transparency and accountability at the canvassing centers during the election period.

Prior to the April 16 meeting, they had heard a plan that Comelec would mandate only the posting of the canvassing center vote totals (Certificate of Canvass-COC) without the precinct vote totals (Statement of Votes- SOV’s). Lagman said this would not allow the comparison of the vote count seen at the precinct level with the precinct vote recorded at the canvassing center. In addition, this would not allow the verification of whether the total canvassing center vote recorded had accurately included the vote count in each precinct. “Without this safeguard Comelec had earlier agreed to, we have a sure formula for dagdag-bawas,” Ordonez said.

To ensure that this agreement is implemented, the proponents recommended that the agreement’s implementation procedure should be included in the Comelec’s General Instructions (G.I.’s) for the canvassing centers. Since this has not been done, the agreement’s implementation is now severely jeopardized. The letter was submitted to the Comelec Head Office after an 11a.m. multisectoral ecumenical prayer service held during the ongoing 24 hour vigil at Plaza Roma in front of the Comelec office in Intramuros.

In an earlier letter, the proponents had stated that the 1.5% sample recommended by Comelec to be used for the manual audit was grossly inadequate. They suggested that the sample be increased to come as close as possible to the original 100% precinct audit they had originally recommended, but only for three positions. They also disagreed with the description earlier given in an official Comelec document that they were suggesting a “full parallel manual count”, when they were actually recommending that only three positions be counted, which would have take only a maximum of three extra hours to execute per precinct. They now say they are willing to decrease this number to two or one, if necessary.


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