The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) held a dialogue this afternoon with various election stakeholders to thresh out any and all concerns with regard to the May 13, 2013 Automated National and Local Elections.
Present during the dialogue were election watchdogs Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV); the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL); the Center for People Empowerment and Governance (CENPEG); the KONTRADAYA; the Workers’ Electoral Watch (We-Watch) and the Automated Election System Watch (AES Watch), among others.
In his opening remarks, COMELEC Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes Jr. appealed for unity and cooperation to all election stakeholders.
“We want to assure the public, most especially the Information Technology (IT) community, that we are sincere in working for a more improved COMELEC. All of us want a clean, honest and credible automated elections, why should we not work together? Kailangan namin ng tulong ninyo,” Chairman Brillantes said.
During the dialogue, several concerns were raised by the participants. Among them were issues that plagued the conduct of the 2010 elections.
“We all want an improved automated election system,” said Ms. Evita Jimenez of CENPEG. “But we should all learn from the lesson of 2010,” she added.
For her part, Ms. Maricor Akol of the AES Watch called on the COMELEC to consider restoring all the voter verification features in the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines that were “disabled” during the 2010 elections. KONTRADAYA’s Fr. Joe Dizon, meanwhile, appealed to the COMELEC to actively engage the IT community in connection with the upcoming automated elections.
In response to all the concerns raised, Chairman Brillantes stressed the need for a “continuing dialogue” with election stakeholders with the view of improving the automated election system. He suggested the creation of a special committee to address all concerns or grievances.
“We want total transparency. That’s why we are actively engaging the public. Ang importante ay magka usap-usap tayo,” Brillantes said. ###