FFE Magazine

Team of foreign observers arriving for May polls

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MANILA, Philippines – Twenty-five foreign observers from eight countries will observe the conduct of the country’s second automated elections on May 13.

During the launch yesterday of the International Observers Mission 2013, the Compact for Peaceful and Democratic Elections (COMPACT) said the observers from the United States, Germany, Spain, Burma, Thailand, Australia, Mongolia, and Uganda would be coming to watch the upcoming polls.

COMPACT co-convenor Ramon Casiple said the observers would be divided into five teams and deployed to various areas like the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Nueva Ecjia, Pampanga, Camarines Sur, Masbate, Samar, Dinagat Island, and Manila.

Casiple noted these areas were chosen because of their political history, particularly on election-related violence and fraud, and have a local and formal organization that would be willing to host the foreign observers.

The group that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has accredited will also take into consideration the security situation in the areas to ensure the safety of the foreign observers.

The international observers will be deployed in certain areas “based on their election monitoring experience, expertise, and interests,” he added.

The observers will be focusing on five “key election issues and challenges.” These are the precinct count optical scan machines and human factor, voter’s lists, vote-buying and vote denial mechanisms, election violence, permit to carry and permit to win, and political dynasty.

Under Comelec Resolution 9652, the foreign observers would have the authority to conduct brief interviews with the chairman and members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) inside the polling places and with voters and other persons outside the polling stations.

They are, however, “prohibited to aid any candidate or political party directly or indirectly, take part or influence in any manner the conduct of the elections, contribute or make any expenditure in connection with any election campaign or partisan political activity, enter any polling place without the consent of the chairman of the BEI concerned, and mingle and talk with voters inside any polling place, or otherwise disrupt the proceedings in the polling place.”

The resolution stated that observers are required to submit their reports to the Comelec at the end of their mission.

Violating these provisions shall be punishable with one to six years imprisonment and deportation after the penalty has been served.

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