Friday, March 2, 2018
NAMFREL Mindanao Chapters participate in hearings to assess the proposal to suspend the May 2018 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) in Mindanao

On January 22, 23 and 29, NAMFREL Mindanao chapters participated in public hearings held in the cities of Zamboanga, Cagayan de Oro and Cotabato in public hearings conducted by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC).  Other participants were representatives from the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Department of Interior and Local Government, National Youth Commission, Liga ng Barangay, Sangguniang Kabataan Federation, local NGOs & CSOs and COMELEC citizens’ arm. The hearings were called to consult the public regarding their views on Congress Joint Resolution No. 13 (Extending of Martial Law and the Suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus in Mindanao) and resulting proposals to suspend the May 2018 BSKE in the entire Mindanao.

NAMFREL chapters were one in expressing their views that the proclamation of martial law is not a sufficient basis to suspend the conduct of elections and an individuals basic right to vote for their leaders. A main determinant in the assessment is the security condition which would affect the election preparation, conduct, campaign and voter turn-out. To aid in the commission’s decision it was necessary to verify that the conditions for free and fair elections are present in spite of the persistence of martial law in the region.

NAMFREL representatives observed, with the exception of Marawi City is which is recovering from the recent siege, prevailing peace and order conditions would not impede on election related activities or the general mobility of persons. In fact, martial law in the area has enhanced the personal security and promotes peace and order essential for successful elections.

As a result of the consultations and with the recommendations from the military, the COMELEC en banc issued on January 31, Comelec Resolution no. 10251 to push through as scheduled with the village and youth polls in Mindanao, with the exception of Marawi City. However, the resolution also states that after three months, the Commission will reassess the suspension of the BSKE 2018 in Marawi City, to determine whether to go ahead with the elections at that time.

Please visit the link to view the decision at:
2 House bills seek synchronized village polls and plebiscite on new Constitution
(Inquirer, Feb 26, 2018)

BACOLOD CITY — Congress has until March 21 to pass bill postponing the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, said Negros Occidental Rep. Alfredo Abelardo Benitez.

He said there were two bills filed in the House of Representatives seeking the postponement of the barangay polls so it would be held simultaneously with the plebiscite on a new Constitution.

The bills had favorable reaction in the House, but the Senate appeared to be reluctant, he added.

“The move to postponed the May barangay and SK polls is faced with a very tight schedule, but it may still be possible if the Senate agrees to it,” Benitez added.

‘No-el’ scenario not dead - solon
(Journal, Feb 25, 2018)

The alleged no election (no-el) scenario of President Rodrigo Duterte’s congressional allies for the May 2019 midterm poll is not yet dead, an opposition lawmaker claimed yesterday

Caloocan City Rep. Edgar “Egay” Erice said the House leadership is still eyeing to postpone and move from May this year to October 2018 the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections to give time for the holding of a plebiscite on the proposed shift to federalism that could postpone also the midterm poll next year.
Palace: Barangay polls to proceed, Cha-cha won't be railroaded
(ABS-CBN News, Feb 26, 2018)

MANILA - Malacañang on Monday said it believes the May 2018 barangay elections will push through contrary to claims by Senate Minority Franklin Drilon that President Rodrigo Duterte’s congressional allies are again moving to postpone it to October this year.

Drilon earlier alleged that Duterte’s allies in Congress wants the polls to be postponed to October so that the plebiscite on the proposed charter change, which he said will include provisions on term extension and scrapping of the 2019 mid-term elections, can be held simultaneously with it.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, however, said Drilon’s claim is “strange” and “speculative” since he heard from Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III that senators are keen on having the barangay polls this May.

Security plans for May elections mapped out
(Manila Bulletin, Feb 26, 2018)

Cebu City—As the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections near, authorities have started mapping out security plans to ensure the simultaneous polls are peaceful.

Col. Noel Baluyan, commander of Task Force Cebu, composed of units from the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, said the focus will be to prevent communist rebels from interfering with the elections in mountain barangays.

“So far, based on our monitoring, there are no movements or recruitment going on in the mountain barangays,” said Baluyan.

Senior Supt. Joel Doria, chief of the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO), said that leading to the May elections, the task force will be holding monthly meetings on internal security operations and terrorism threats in Cebu province.

“We will be conducting police community relations activities, we will conduct information drives and visibility of uniformed personnel in mountain barangays will be increased,” Doria said.

Comelec sets April 30 deadline for partylist registration
(Inquirer, Feb 23, 2018)

Partylist organizations who want to take part in the May 2019 partylist elections have until April 30 this year to file their manifestations of intent to participate before the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez reminded partylist groups, registered or not, to file their manifestations by then.

In a post on his blog,, the poll spokesperson said the deadline for the filing of the manifestation of intent to participate in the 2019 elections for partylist system is April 30, 2018.

This covers unregistered partylist groups, coalitions and organizations, and existing partylist groups, coalitions and organizations.

Unregistered partylist groups also have until April 30, 2018 to submit their petitions for registration.

Davao governors bolt parties to join Sara Duterte’s Hugpong
(Rappler, Feb 23, 2018)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The governors of Davao Region have bolted their respective national political parties to join the newly launched Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) organized by Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.

Duterte-Carpio is the daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte, who ran under the banner of PDP-Laban in the presidential elections.

Compostela Valley Governor Jayvee Tyron Uy and Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang revealed this Friday, February 23, at a press conference held hours before the formal launch of HNP.

“Just this morning... I tendered my resignation as PDP member for reasons that we want to focus more on the region so we want to help the vision created by Hugpong specially headed by Mayor Sara,” Uy told reporters.

HNP was launched here Friday, February 23, with an estimated 500 members coming from executive branches of local governments in Southern Mindanao.
Sara Duterte’s political party has no Comelec approval yet – poll exec
(Rappler, Feb 23, 2018)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The newly-formed political party led by Presidential daughter Sara Duterte-Carpio has yet to seek approval from the Commission on Elections (Comelec), a regional official of the agency said Thursday, February 22.

Marlon Casquejo, Comelec XI assistant regional director, said Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) needs to file a petition before the poll body if it aims to establish a regional political party, as announced by Duterte-Carpio two days ago.

“We have a given date when they can file a petition,” Casquejo told ABS-CBN Davao in a report.

As far as the poll body is concerned, Casquejo said, “Our timeline on when to file applications for political party isn’t out yet.”

PDP-Laban vs Sara Duterte party in 2019? Pimentel says 'possible'
(Rappler, Feb 26, 2018)

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III said it is possible that candidates of PDP-Laban and the new regional party of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte would face-off in the 2019 elections.

Pimentel, president of PDP-Laban, said the ruling party is set on fielding candidates nationwide.

“The challenge now to PDP-Laban is to field candidates all over the country, that is our plan,” Pimentel said, in a mix of Filipino and English, when asked on Monday, February 26.

Asked if this means PDP-Laban and Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) would vie for the same posts in Mindanao, he said it is possible but nothing is final until October, the deadline for the filing of the certificates of candidacy.

‘The long and short of the rush to Charter Change at this time is tyranny’ – former Chief Justice (Bulatlat, Feb 22, 2018)

MANILA – “Even if you love President Duterte, or you just fancy ‘federalism,’ you need to oppose the current moves to change the Constitution. The issue goes beyond the current president, and federalism is not the solution to the country’s problems.” These are some of the conclusions aired by Bayan Muna leader Neri Colmenares recently as more legal luminaries also disapproved of the proposed charter change. They founded the No to Cha-cha Coalition last week. This week they are inviting the public to join the EDSA anniversary rally to protest this cha-cha drive.

In a speech at the founding of No to Cha-cha Coalition, former COMELEC Commissioner Christian S. Monsod said the articulated purpose of the proposed charter change by the Duterte administration is the same as the six previous failed attempts.

He said the PDP-Laban draft Federal Constitution summarizes the reason for its proposal: ‘…Our system of government has resulted in a grave imbalance in the distribution of resources among regions and local government units.’ It dismisses the “highly-centralized form of government” and proposes the federal system.

Tribunal issues gag order on Marcos, Robredo in poll protest (CNN Philippines, Feb 22, 2018)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 22) — The Presidential Electoral Tribunal ordered both Vice President Leni Robredo and former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos to stop discussing the poll protest in public.

"(C)onsidering that the revision process ìs about to commence, the tribunal directs both protestant and protestee to observe the sub judice rule," the PET said in its resolution dated February 13 and released Tuesday.  The order comes ahead of the scheduled manual ballot recount on March 19.

The sub judice rule prohibits parties from discussing the merits of a case pending a court resolution.

Is Bongbong withdrawing all pending motions in poll protest? PET wants to know
(Inquirer, Feb 22, 2018)

Former Senator Bongbong Marcos has yet to withdraw all pending motions to help expedite the process in his election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo.

This as the Supreme Court (SC), sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), gave him 10 days to inform the body if he intends to file a motion to withdraw all pending motions to accelerate the proceedings in his case.

In a two-page resolution, the PET noted that Robredo’s camp has already filed a motion to withdraw all their pending motions related to the poll protest.

“Protestee [Robredo] states that there are no such pending motions which could or would delay the recount process. Nonetheless, protestee moves that if there are such motions in the records of the Tribunal, the same be considered as duly abandoned or withdrawn,” the PET pointed out.

Imee says next Marcos in national position could be her
(Inquirer, Feb 26, 2018)

BAGUIO CITY — There should be another Marcos in national office.

The eldest daughter of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos said here that the uncertainty surrounding the electoral case filed by her brother, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., to wrest the vice presidency from Leni Robredo was making the Marcos family ponder about sending another Marcos to run for national office.

“The electoral protest filed by Bongbong has not advanced so one of his other siblings may be forced to seek national office, like me,” said Imee Marcos, governor of the Marcos bailiwick, Ilocos Norte province.

“That’s what the family is contemplating,” Imee said on Saturday during the Panagbenga or Baguio Flower Festival and also the eve of the day the 1986 People Power Revolution, which forced her family into exile.

Senate orders arrest of ex-Comelec chief Bautista
(Rappler, Feb 26, 2018)

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate ordered the arrest of former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista for repeatedly skipping the probe into his alleged ill-gotten wealth.

Senator Francis Escudero, chairman of the Senate banks committee investigating the issue, said Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III signed the order on Wednesday, February 21.

"Just learned that Koko signed it last Wednesday," Escudero said in a text message.

Bautista has ignored the hearing at least thrice despite the issuance of a subpoena. He said he has been abroad since November 21, 2017 to explore career opportunities and seek medical assistance. He also denied receiving any invitation to attend the Senate inquiry.

Zamora: ‘Time is running out’ for San Juan recall poll vs Gomez
(Feb 21, 2018)

Urging the Commission on Elections en banc to respond to the motion for reconsideration filed by San Juan City Mayor Guia Gomez against the petition for recall elections, former city Vice Mayor Francis Zamora joined the petitioners’ second vigil in front of the Comelec office in Manila on Tuesday.

Zamora, Gomez’ opponent in the last elections, filed an electoral protest against Gomez who won by 1,000 votes last May 2016, and withdrew it. Zamora’s camp later substituted it with a petition for recall elections to speed up the process.

The Comelec en banc granted the petition and issued a notice of sufficiency last Dec 13. The notice was served to Gomez via substituted service or through snail mail last Jan 15, said the city elections officer lawyer Gregorio Bonifacio.

Gomez filed a motion for reconsideration two days later.

Score lowest in 5 years: PHL slips in 2017 global corruption index, tagged among Asia's 'worst offenders'
(CNN Philippines, Feb 22, 2018)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 22) — The Philippines dropped in the 2017 global corruption rankings as compared to last year.

According to the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) published Wednesday, the Philippines placed 111th out of 180 countries surveyed, with a score of 34 out of 100.

This was a drop from its 35 point score, ranking 101st out of 176 countries in 2016.

The report also said the Philippines, India and the Maldives are among the most corrupt in the Asia Pacific.

"These countries score high for corruption and have fewer press freedoms and higher numbers of journalist deaths," it read.

Duterte hands off on proposal to postpone barangay, SK elections anew
(GMA News, Mar 2, 2018)


President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday left to Congress the decision on whether to allow another postponement of the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections even as he warned about local officials that would use drug money to influence the polls.

Duterte said he had instructed his chief aide, Christopher "Bong" Go, to communicate to Congress his position on the matter.

"Sabi ko kay Bong [Go], 'Sabihin mo sa kanila, Congress, it’s their choice. Hardly if it’s ours.' Kasi kung mag-input tayo, marami namang... Well of course, 'ah ganu'n ganu'n. Dictatorial. Ayaw ng election,'" the President said in a speech in Davao City.


Cambodia's Ruling Party Wins All Seats in Senate Election
(Radio Free Asia, Feb 26, 2018)

Cambodia’s ruling party won all seats in elections for the country’s Senate at the weekend, just over three months after Cambodia’s Supreme Court dissolved the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, disenfranchising thousands of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s political opponents and forcing others into exile.

All 58 seats in the uncompetitive election went to the CPP on Sunday in voting open only to lawmakers and commune officials, with a total of 11,670 out of a possible 11,695 votes cast, Cambodia’s National Election Commission (NEC) said.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in November, dissolving the CNRP for allegedly plotting a ”coup,” banned 118 opposition lawmakers and senior officials from politics for five years, eliminating Hun Sen’s main competition ahead of general elections scheduled for July.

More than 5,000 remaining elected CNRP commune chiefs and district counselors were also removed from their positions.

Cambodia: CSOs call for outright rejection of draft amendments to the Constitution and Criminal Code
(LICDHO, Feb 21, 2018)

We, the undersigned organizations and communities, express our grave concern regarding the Royal Government of Cambodia's (RGC) proposed amendments to the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, as well as the proposed introduction of a lèse-majesté offense to Cambodia’s Criminal Code. These proposed amendments constitute a severe threat to human rights and fundamental freedoms, and are clearly designed to further criminalize any individual or entity that dares to express legitimate dissent. We are deeply concerned by this cynical attempt to deny the Cambodian people the fundamental freedoms to which they are entitled, and call for the outright rejection of these proposed amendments.

Malaysia's DPM Zahid keeps mum on election date
(The Straits Times, Feb 26, 2018)

Malaysians will have to play the guessing game a for a little longer when it comes to the exact date of the country's 14th General Election.

Even Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi responded with a shrug when asked about the imminent election period.

"Nobody knows," he said when quizzed at a press conference in Terengganu on Monday (Feb 26).

The rumour mill has been rife as to when polling day would take place with a few guesses that it could happen at any time between March and June this year.

New political parties to take first steps to contest elections in Thailand
(The Straits Times, Feb 27, 2018)

More than 100 new political parties are expected to launch within weeks in Thailand after registration opens on Friday (March 2).

It will be the first time since the military coup in May 2014 that political activities will be officially allowed.

A junta order signed by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha last December (2017) allows new political parties to be registered, along with their members, starting on March 1, with existing parties able to start membership confirmation from April 1.

The order in effect relaxes some rules and deadlines set in the Political Parties Act.

Pakistan: Political parties concerned over electoral delimitation
(Pakistan Today, Feb 27, 2018)

ISLAMABAD: The major political parties of the country, including Pakistan Muslim Nawaz (PML-N), have expressed reservations over the electoral delimitation during a meeting at Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) in Islamabad.

On Monday, the ECP held the meeting with the delegations of the parliamentary parties to brief them about the constituency delimitation and other preparations for the upcoming general elections.

Along with the PML-N, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and Jamaat Islami (JI) were also apprehensive over the whole process.  They opined that consultations were not held with the representatives of the political parties regarding the delimitation and added that implementation concerning delimitation law was also not followed.

The Myth of the Hacker-Proof Voting Machine
(New York Times, Feb 21, 2018)

In the 15 years since electronic voting machines were first adopted by many states, numerous reports by computer scientists have shown nearly every make and model to be vulnerable to hacking. The systems were not initially designed with robust security in mind, and even where security features were included, experts have found them to be poorly implemented with glaring holes.

But for as long as experts have warned about security problems, voting machine makers and election officials have denied that the machines can be remotely hacked. The reason, they say, is that the systems are not connected to the internet — an assurance the public has largely accepted. This defense was never more loudly expressed than in 2016, when the government disclosed that Russian hackers were probing American voter-registration systems and had breached at least one of them. Concerned that hacking fears could make the public less likely to vote, the United States Election Assistance Commission and state election officials rushed to assert that there was no need to worry about the votes because voting machines themselves were isolated from the internet.

The reality, as the incident in Venango County makes clear, is far more complicated.

US: Russia fears have election vendors feeling the heat
(Politico, Feb 24, 2018)

The furor over fake news and Russian bots is overshadowing another weak link in the security of U.S. elections — the computer equipment and software that do everything from store voters’ data to record the votes themselves.

Now the voting vendor industry is receiving increased attention from Congress and facing the prospect of new regulations, after more than a decade of warnings from cybersecurity researchers and recent revelations about the extent of Russian intrusions in 2016.

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: [email protected]
Tel. : (632) 788-3484 / (632) 736-0969
Telefax: (632) 470-4151
Mobile:  (63) 939-1102872 / (63) 927-2443781
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