Monday, April 2, 2018
NAMFREL statement on the Vice Presidential recount 

The National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) looks forward to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) finally commencing the vote recount, which could hopefully settle the dispute on the alleged miscount on the Vice Presidential race of the 2016 National and Local Elections.

We request the PET to inform the public of the complete procedure and duration of the recount and to allow the Commission on Elections (COMELEC)-accredited citizens' arms and media to observe the process.  #

PET gears up for Marcos-Robredo manual recount on April 2
(GMA News, Mar 27, 2018)

The Supreme Court (SC), sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET), will proceed with the April 2 manual recount of ballots from 5,418 clustered precincts contested in the poll protest between former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and Vice President Leni Robredo.

The recount will push through after at least two postponements, both of which Marcos or his lawyer claimed has been related to the "new" psychological test requirement.

Each Revision Committee, as the three-person panel is called, will handle the revision of one ballot box at a time within a prescribed time frame.

According to the PET Revisor's Guide, the revision aims to verify the physical count of the ballots, recount the votes of the parties, record objections or claims with respect to the ballots under revision, and mark the ballots objected to or claimed by the parties for examination by the PET.

Robredo, Marcos 'confident' as ballot recount set to begin
(Rappler, Apr 1, 2018)

MANILA, Philippines – Both the camps of Vice President Leni Robredo and her rival, former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, are oozing with confidence as the ballot recount for the vice presidency is set to begin on Monday, April 2.

Why they are confident: Lawyers of Robredo and Marcos both believe the results of the recount will prove their respective clients won in the 2016 elections. 

Marcos' legal counsel and spokesperson Vic Rodriguez said their camp has long waited for the recount to begin. He also criticized the Vice President's camp for allegedly delaying the protest and attempting to "bury the truth." 

What Went Before: The 2016 vice presidential race
(Inquirer, Mar 28, 2018)

Vice President Leni Robredo edged out former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. by 263,473 votes in the May 9, 2016 elections.

Robredo, who was proclaimed Vice President on May 30, won with 14,418,817 votes. Marcos got 14,155,344.

On June 29, 2016, Marcos filed an electoral protest in the Supreme Court, which acts as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).

Despite Marcos’ attempt to stop her inauguration, Robredo took her oath of office the next day.

In his petition, Marcos said the votes for Robredo were “products of electoral frauds, anomalies and irregularities.”

VP election recount off-limits to media
(Manila Times, Mar 27, 2018)

THE recount for the 2016 vice presidential race won’t be open to media based on a Supreme Court resolution issued on March 20, a copy of which was obtained by The Manila Times on Monday.

“The Tribunal holds that the recount is not open for coverage as only the Tribunal’s representatives, the parties and their representatives are allowed inside the revision area following the 2018 PET Guidelines,” said the high court sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET).

Senate panel approves bill banning political dynasties
(ABS-CBN News, Mar 22, 2018)

MANILA - A majority of senators have approved a proposal to ban political dynasties.

Thirteen senators on Wednesday night signed Senate Bill No. 1765, which prohibits spouses and relatives of incumbent elective officials up to the second civil degree from succeeding them or simultaneously running for public office.

The consolidated bill against political dynasties was approved under Committee Report No. 367 submitted jointly by the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and People's Participation, chaired by detained Sen. Leila de Lima, and the Senate Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revision of Codes, chaired by Sen. Francis Pangilinan. 

It is due to be presented to the plenary for debates.

The measure, which brought together six separate bills, defines political dynasty as the "concentration, consolidation, and/or perpetuation of public office and political powers by persons related to one another within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity."

Comelec: 24 partylist groups delisted recently can still run in 2022 polls
(Manila Bulletin (Apr 1, 2018)

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said the 24 partylist groups that have been delisted recently can still run in 2022 polls.

That is if they have been granted new registration or accreditation.

“The 24 partylists delisted under Resolution 10273 dated March 19 cannot run in the 2019 elections. But they can run in 2022, if they have been granted new registration/accreditation,” Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said in her Twitter account @commrguanzon.

But, she said, Comelec Resolution 10273 also provides that any “partylist groups, organizations, and coalitions adversely affected by our Resolution may file a reconsideration with the clerk of the Commission 10 days from notice hereof.”

Earlier, the poll body ordered the delisting of 24 partylist organizations for failing to participate in the last two poll exercises; failure to obtain at least 2 percent of the votes cast for the partylist system and failure to obtain a seat in the second round of seat allocation for the partylist system in the last two preceding polls. 


Barangay, SK polls likely a go, thanks to Senate
(Inquirer, Mar 24, 2018)

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has heaved a sigh of relief, following the inability of both chambers of Congress to pass a bill postponing the May 14 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.

Congress went on recess without the Senate proposing a bill in support of the House of Representativesí approved measure moving the elections to October this year.

“That whooshing sound you hear is the collective sigh of relief [of] 57,284,798 barangay and youth voters [on] learning that Congress went on recess without the Senate having done anything to support the Houseís initiative to postpone the polls,” said Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.

Congress began its recess on Friday and will resume sessions on May 14, the scheduled day of the barangay and SK elections.

Earlier this month, the House of Representatives voted 164-27 to move the elections to October. No senator proposed a similar bill.

Comelec urged: Probe flying voters in Pasay, Manila
(PhilStar, Mar 29, 2018)

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has been urged to look into the complaints about the presence of flying voters in Manila and Pasay City amid the upcoming barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) polls.

The appeal was made by Yok Tin So, of Barangay 97 Pasay, and Domingo Vacal and Ramon Cheng, chairman and councilman, respectively of Barangay 269 in Manila.

In a letter to acting Comelec chairman Al Parreno dated March 19, they said the poll body should act on their complaints to ensure clean elections on May 14.

“While criminal cases had been filed against these flying voters before the prosecutor’s office of Pasay and Manila, the Comelec should conduct its own investigation,” they wrote.

Voters reminded to update status
(SunStar, Apr 1, 2018)

THE Commission on Election (Comelec) called on registered voters to update their status for the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections. 

Baguio City Election Officer lawyer John Paul Martin reiterated due to the volume of precincts in the city, there are possibilities that the clustering of voters may change from the last election. 

“There are designated precincts where precinct numbers are labeled to inform the voters on where they should vote following the list of voters posted, but for the convenience of all the registered voters in the city, we encourage them to visit our office for them to record the precinct and sequence number of their names,” Martin explained.

No new voter’s ID – Comelec
(PhilStar, Apr 2, 2018)

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is not printing new voter’s identification cards, an official reiterated on Saturday.

James Jimenez, spokesman for the Comelec, made the statement amid inquiries from the public.

“The poll body suspended the printing and issuance of voter’s ID when discussions about the national ID system started in Congress,” Jimenez said.

DILG warns public vs. scammers offering bogus barangay OIC appointments
(GMA News, Mar 27, 2018)

The Department of Interior and Local Government on Tuesday reminded the public to be on the look out for scammers and extortionists who are offering bogus officer-in-charge appointments in barangays.

DILG assistant secretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said these individuals are using the name of the President, DILG and the federalism campaign in their modus operandi.

The DILG, according to Malaya, is still receiving reports regarding scammers who are giving false hopes of OIC appointments in barangays despite the fact that the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections will proceed as scheduled on May 14.

Tokhang re-directed to go after barangay officials
(Manila Bulletin, Mar 26, 2018)

The police’s ‘Tokhang’ operations will be re-directed  and this time, it will be targeting barangay officials.

Director General Ronald dela Rosa, chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), said yesterday that barangay officials, and even mayors, will be the subject of their tokhang (knock and plead) operations in a move to intensify the campaign against narco-politicians.

“We are doing this so that people in the barangays would know, and they know, who among in their communities are involved in illegal drugs,” said dela Rosa.

The move to include barangay officials, he said, is a response to  the complaints of local residents as to why the anti-illegal drugs operations spare barangay officials.

It was recalled that since the war on drugs started in July 2016, it is the barangay officials who have been providing the police the list of suspected drug personalities in their areas.

For millennials only: Run for kagawad
(PhilStar, Mar 26, 2018)

A group of reformists is enjoining millennials to run for barangay councilman on May 14. Its name is its very aim: "One Millennial Candidate for Kagawad in Each of the 42,000 Barangays." The call strictly is for non-"trapo" youths. "Trapo," Tagalog for rag, is also derisive for traditional politico. The 42,000 new but motivated kagawad would be able to direct barangay affairs nationwide. They also would form the core of the country’s future leaders.

Death of Philippine Democracy at the Grassroots
(Democratic Erosion, Mar 27, 2018)

How can democracy be felt on a national scale when at the very grassroots, democracy is eroding or worst it is dead?

The barangay (Filipino word for village) is the smallest political unit in the Philippines headed by a punong barangay (captain) and assisted by a council. They all serve for a three year-term with limitation up to three consecutive terms. Barangay is considered as the grassroots of democracy where the ideals and aspirations of the people are first expressed, formulated and implemented.

In retrospect, how democratic is the Philippines’ barangay political system? In 2010, Sangguniang Kabataan (“youth council”) was put on hold; twice that the Barangay and SK election was postponed (2016 and 2017); then the president made a proposal in 2017 for the appointment of barangay officials instead of election. In the Philippines, democracy at the barangay level is undermined because of postponement (instead of periodic election) and partisanship (instead of ensuring fair election).

Barangay leaders of today and yesterday compared
(Panay News, Apr 1, 2018)

Barangay politics as we know it today is a “download” from the martial law era. Just like in those days, to reiterate, today’s barangay leaders kowtow to powerful politicians – and even to drug lords – for logistical support. And so we hear them shamelessly advertise themselves as “kandidato ni mayor” or “kandidato ni congressman.” In time, they would return the favor by supplying votes for influential politicians during national and local elections.

House passes bill to abolish PCGG
(Manila Times, Mar 22, 2018)

The House of Representatives has passed a bill to abolish the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), the agency tasked to recover the estimated $10 billion ill-gotten wealth of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos and his family.

The chamber, through viva voce voting, approved on second reading House Bill 7376 that seeks to abolish the PCGG and the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) and transfers their authorities and responsibilities to the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), to streamline legal services in the government.



Comelec exec who threatened teacher had ties to chief in 'Hello Garci' scandal
(PhilStar, Mar 23, 2018)

MANILA, Philippines — A parent who reportedly threatened a teacher for giving his child a low grade was found to be an elections officer named in previous reports as having been connected to the "Hello Garci" scandal.

Comelec Regional Election Director for Region XI Remlane Tambuang allegedly bragged about being from “a family of lawyers and killers” during a meeting with one of his son’s teachers at the Ateneo de Davao University.

An investigative piece on the archives of Newsbreak identified him as among the Comelec officers who received promotions after the alleged scheme that propelled former Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to victory in the 2004 presidential elections. 

CA bypasses Comelec chair, DAR secretary
(Manila Bulletin, Mar 22, 2018)

The powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) bypassed on Wednesday the nomination of Sheriff Manimbayan Abas as Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman and the appointment of John Rualo Castriciones as Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) secretary as it goes into a three-week Lenten break starting Thursday.

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, concurrent CA chairman, said Abas could continue working as Comelec chief because he was nominated to the post by President Duterte.

The Comelec-Employees Union stated that it embraces Abas as the first Comelec chairman from Mindanao, the first Muslim chairman, the youngest Comelec chief and the first Commissioner to become chairman of the Comelec.

An empirical analysis of vote buying among the poor: Evidence from elections in the Philippines
(SAGE Journals, Mar 12, 2018)

Recent literature suggests that the poor are more likely to be targeted for vote buying and to sell their votes. However, there is limited empirical analysis on the patterns of vote buying among low-income voters. This paper attempts to fill this gap using a survey conducted in Metro Manila, Philippines after the 2016 elections. Data analysis shows that vote buying among the poor is indeed very common, but the incidence varies depending on the vote buying type. The most prevalent form uses more benign goods such as food and clothing, but offers of money is still reported by more than a quarter of respondents. 

Under fire in US, Cambridge Analytica looks to Asia
(Asia Times, March 22, 2018)

Asian political leaders have been quick to distance themselves from scandal-hit voter profiling firm Cambridge Analytica, but many countries will remain plum targets for unethical data mining activities due to high social media growth, regulatory gaps and a tradition of electoral abuses.

British-based Cambridge Analytica has been accused of improperly using information obtained from Facebook users to influence the outcome of elections in scores of countries. American authorities are now investigating what role it played in Donald Trump’s 2016 US presidential campaign.

The company says it has been active in Malaysia and Australia, as well as Brazil, Kenya and Mexico, and plans to expand into China. Cambridge Analytica had and has closed offices in Malaysia and Australia, but its parent, SCL group, maintains websites that offer services in other Asian countries.

How Facebook likes could profile voters for manipulation
(AP, Mar 20, 2018)

NEW YORK (AP) — Facebook “likes” can tell a lot about a person. Maybe even enough to fuel a voter-manipulation effort like the one a Trump-affiliated data-mining firm stands accused of — and which Facebook may have enabled.

The social network is under fire after The New York Times and The Guardian newspaper reported that former Trump campaign consultant Cambridge Analytica used data, including user likes, inappropriately obtained from roughly 50 million Facebook users to try to influence elections.

Facebook security chief changes role to focus on election fraud
(Daily Mail, Mar 20, 2018)

Facebook's chief of security said late Monday his role has shifted to focusing on emerging risks and election security at the global social network, which is under fire for letting its platform be used to spread bogus news and manipulate voters.

Alex Stamos announced the change in his work role after The New York Times reported he was leaving Facebook in the wake of internal clashes over how to deal with Russian actors using the platform to spread false or exaggerated stories to cause division among US voters.

Malaysian Parliament could be dissolved this week
(The Straits Times, Apr 2, 2018)

The Malaysian Parliament is likely to be dissolved this week, as the House will sit for the final time for the 2013-2018 session on Thursday (April 5).

This will be followed by Prime Minister Najib Razak launching his ruling party Barisan Nasional's (BN) election manifesto on Saturday, raising the possibility of Parliament being dissolved on Friday.

Cabinet minister Abdul Rahman Dahlan said this could be the case, given what has happened in previous years.

Once Parliament is dissolved, a general election will be called and political parties will begin campaigning. In the last elections in 2013, the campaigning period was 15 days. The opposition has called for the Election Commission to set a campaigning period of no fewer than 21 days from Nomination Day.

Nepalese lawmakers reelect female president
(Anadolu Agency, Mar 13, 2018)

Nepalese lawmakers on Tuesday reelected Bidhya Devi Bhandari as the country’s president, three months after the parliamentary elections were held in which a communist alliance won the largest number of seats.

Bidhya Devi Bhandari, fielded by the ruling Unified Marxist Leninist (UML) party, won the presidential election after securing 39,275 votes, according to the Election Commission.

Bhandari is returning to the top job for the second time after she became the country’s first female president in October 2015.

Sierra Leone Makes History With First Ever Blockchain Presidential Vote (Inverse, Mar 9, 2016)

The first ever blockchain-verified election took place in Sierra Leone on Wednesday. Swiss-based blockchain startup Agora oversaw the voting process, logging each paper ballot cast in Sierra Leone’s most populous region into a blockchain network.

Many believe blockchain technology could go a long way in creating a secure platform for digital elections, because it creates an unassailable ledger of transactions. The blockchain works by utilizing a distributed network of connected computers — all transactions are stored in a shared public record, so there is no main hub vulnerable to attack. In a blockchain election, each transaction represents one vote, and because a blockchain is tamper-proof, election results would perfectly reflect the vote without fear of hacking or fraud.

NAMFREL NEWS is a bi-monthly curated package of the most significant Philippine election-related news, distributed by the National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) to its network.
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