NAMFREL celebrates its 30th anniversary and inaugurates the Bantay ng Bayan Awards

from NAMFREL Election Monitor Vol.3, No.3
In commemoration of its 30th year, the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections held a Thanksgiving Mass on October 26, 2013 at the National Shrine of the Divine Child at La Salle Green Hills in Mandaluyong City, simultaneous with similar prayer services held by NAMFREL chapters in major cities nationwide. Being two days before the barangay elections, the day’s activities also served as a Mass/prayer services for the peaceful holding of the polls. The Mass at La Salle Green Hills was officiated by Bishop Ramon B. Villena, D.D. of Bayombong, a NAMFREL pioneer, and was attended by fellow NAMFREL pioneers and volunteers past and present. A traditional NAMFREL Light-A-Candle ceremony was also held, led by current NAMFREL National Chairperson Corazon Dela Paz-Bernardo.

During the event, NAMFREL also gave out the inaugural Bantay ng Bayan Awards. The Award is given to individuals or organizations that embody the values of NAMFREL, recognizing their achievements in electoral reform and good governance advocacy, and who continue to make significant efforts in bringing the same to their own community and/or profession, in the Philippines and/or beyond. Initially, recipients of the Bantay ng Bayan Award are past and present NAMFREL volunteers instrumental in the founding and strengthening of NAMFREL and electoral reform advocacy in the country.

The eight recipients of the 2013 Bantay ng Bayan Awards are:

1. Jose S. Concepcion, Jr. - NAMFREL Founding Chairperson
“For founding the National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections thirty years ago; for working to restore the right of the Filipino people to free, clean, and honest elections; for empowering the citizens to demand free, clean, and honest elections so that their true will in the electoral process will prevail; for inspiring the citizens to the fact that achieving free, clean, and honest elections demands vigilance, hard work, and sacrifice; for leading the citizen-volunteers in ensuring free, clean and honest elections, even at great risk to his life and business holdings; and for pioneering the concept of election monitoring that inspired and is now being practiced in 144 countries”
Cagayan De Oro City
... 2. Vicente R. Jayme (posthumous award)
- former NAMFREL Vice-Chairperson and Senior Adviser; Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference (BBC) Co-Founder; former Asian Development Bank (ADB) Executive Director; former Secretary of Finance “For helping spearhead a national movement of citizens to ensure honest and fair elections, at a time of great risk; for recognizing the role that business could play in human development and how corporate social responsibility could transform Philippine society -- for people not only to "have more" but "be more"-- leading both businesses and community to action; and for leading an inspiring life dedicated to democracy, responsibility, excellence, and family”

3. Christian S. Monsod
- former NAMFREL Secretary General and Chairperson; former COMELEC Chairperson; Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) Founder; current Co- Vice-Chairperson, Bishops-Businessmen’s Conference (BBC) “For helping plant the seeds of and nurture volunteerism in the country in the feld of election monitoring; for bringing into public service the cause of free and fair elections by instituting lasting reforms geared towards more transparent elections and a strengthened
election commission; and for continuously upholding the spirit of democracy and volunteerism in business and in the law profession”
4. Augusto C. Lagman - former NAMFREL Systems Committee Chairperson; former COMELEC Commissioner; former President, Philippine Computer Society (PCS); Convenor, Movement for Good Governance “For leading NAMFREL's pioneering Operation Quick Count, the world's first citizen-led parallel national vote count tabulation; for championing the use of technology towards more transparent, accurate, and cost-efficient vote tabulation and consolidation; for actively encouraging cooperation between the private sector, civil society, and the election commission; and for continuously advocating for a more transparent and efficient election process in the Philippines in the interest of strengthening the credibility of the results and the election administration”

5. Concerned Citizens of Abra for Good Government (CCAGG) - NAMFREL-Abra chapter coordinator; citizen watchdog widely recognized for its independent monitoring of local elections, government projects, for advocating environment conservation, for activities related to relief operations, peace and order, capacity building, good governance, transparency, among many others. In 2005, its Chairperson Pura Sumangil was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as part of the 1000 Peace Women acknowledging their work in peace building all over the world.

“For being a model NAMFREL chapter for three decades; for being ahead of its time in the field of good governance through groundbreaking projects on government service and performance monitoring and other notable development work, in a challenging environment and political climate; for being an inspiring example of what individuals can do when bound by courage and dedication, effecting change in their communities, and plotting and taking control of their own destiny”

6. Ateneo de Zamboanga University - NAMFREL-Zamboanga City chapter coordinator; training ground for responsible community leaders; through its Social Awareness and Involvement (SACSI) offce, leads in organizing and deployment of volunteers during elections and in relief efforts during times of tragedy

“For being a model institution, utilizing academic excellence in the service of the community; for upholding the spirit of volunteerism by regularly mobilizing students and ordinary citizens for ensuring free and fair elections, among other advocacies; and for being a bastion of social awareness and community involvement in a challenging environment”

7. Mariano S. Quesada - former NAMFREL General Coordinator and Secretary General “For realizing the need and initiating the call for the establishment of a citizen-led advocacy for free elections as the only peaceful means for change; for co-founding the National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections, at the risk to business and family; and for his pioneering efforts to share NAMFREL's vision and the Philippine experience in election monitoring to other countries as a capacity-building trainer and election observer”
Laoag City
8. Damaso G. Magbual - NAMFREL’s current Members Committee Chairman and former NCR Chairperson; Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) Chairperson He has been a NAMFREL volunteer since 1983, and has served as a resource person, trainer and consultant on election monitoring, electoral systems and administration in more than a dozen countries since 1987. Mr. Magbual is the current Chairperson of the Bangkok-based Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL).

“For helping plant the seeds of and nurture volunteerism in the country in the feld of election monitoring; for promoting free and fair elections in Asia and beyond; and for inspiring like-minded citizens in other countries to take up the cause that NAMFREL started and form a democracy-centered movement of their own”
Naga City
... Since 1983, NAMFREL has been bringing together Filipinos of all sectors to work to help revive and sustain democracy in the country by safeguarding the integrity of the vote, and later on also through activities in line with good governance. NAMFREL is the acknowledged world pioneer in the conduct of a citizen-led parallel vote tabulation, known locally as the Operation Quick Count. Internationally, NAMFREL has inspired like-minded organizations to set up their own election monitoring activities in their own
countries, with NAMFREL volunteers and officers actively engaging international counterparts to help initiate programs similar to those of NAMFREL in the Philippines.