NAMFREL INSISTS ON ELECTION ROLEManila, April 7, 2003 -- The National Citizens Movement for Free Elections is still planning to conduct operation quick count (OQC) in the 2004 elections, despite earlier pronouncements by Comelec Chairman Benjamin Abalos that it would no longer be necessary for them to do so once elections next year are automated. Instead of the usual fourth copy of election returns the Namfrel was obtaining from the Commission on Elections for its OQC, the elections watchdog would ask Comelec for a diskette copy of the municipal or city results so that it could still conduct an unoffcial tally of results. Comelec Commissioner Resurreccion Borra said Namfrel chairman Jose Concepcion is negotiating with Comelec chairman Benjamin Abalos to accommodate this request. He said should all automation projects of the Comelec be activated for the 2004 elections, Namfrel would modify its application for accredictation to enable the election watchdog to get a copy of the diskette (or soft) copy for elections results apart from the hard copy of election tallies. "If Namfrel would only get the elections results, their OQC would be moot because with the counting machines and the electronic transmission of results projects we would be implementing, the Comelec would have the results faster than Namfrel's," Borra said. Namfrel's plans to conduct OQC ran couter to earlier pronouncements it made at the height of a word war with Abalos two months ago over the poll body's modernization programs. Guillermo Luz, Namfrel secretary general, had said it was impossible for the Comelec to automate the 2004 elections with very little time and with the same "incompetent set of commissioners." An irked Abalos said Namfrel is opposing the Comelec's modernization program because with elections results coming in faster and more accurate, Namfrel's OQC would be rendered inutile. Namfrel executive director Telibert Laoc said Namfrel is willing to withdraw its application for accreditation for OQC if Comelec makes true its promise to automate the elections next year. The Comelec awarded last week contracts for two of its three modernization phases: The voter validation system and the electronic transmission of results. It is set to announce the winner of the bidding for the acquisition of 2,500 counting machines this week. Borra would not comment on Namfrel's chances in light of the apparent "bad blood" it has with several Comelec officials. Apart from Abalos, Namfrel had locked horns with four Comelec commissioners Luzviminda Tancangco, Ralph Lantion, Mehol Sadain, and Rufino Javier over Namfrel's impeachment efforts against Tancangco and the election watchdog's opposition to the P6.5 billion voter registration and identification system, which the four are backing. Borra, a known ally Namfrel ally, said the perceived rift between Abalos and the Namfrel was merely created by the media.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
© Copyright, 2003
by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE
All rights reserved
PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS ONLINE [PHNO] WEBSITE