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No decision yet on Namfrel's bid for digital trail access, Comelec clarifies


The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday clarified that it has yet to decide on Namfrel's bid for accreditation for the Open Election Data project that was supposed to give Namfrel access to digital trail of the votes that will be cast for the May 13 elections, an official said Monday.

Director Frances Arabe of the Comelec Education and Information Department made the clarification in the aftermath of the pullout of Namfrel, or the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections, as Comelec’s partner for the May elections.

Namfrel's move was prompted by Comelec's supposed denial of its accreditation bid for the Open Election Data project and just limiting its accreditation to performing the random manual audit (RMA) and the monitoring preparations for the elections.

"It is not correct to say that their accreditation was denied because wala pang resolution ang commission en banc on that. Nauna lang ‘yung [pagbigay sa kanila ng] accreditation sa random manual audit," Arabe said in an interview on News To Go.

"With their withdrawal, we take it to mean na hindi na sila interesado [to partner with us], and that is why we are looking for interested parties to do the [random manual] audit," Arabe added.

Namfrel Secretary General Eric Alvia, however, maintained that Namfrel’s lack of access for digital trail of vote transmission would mean a less transparent counting of votes.

"Yung Open Election Data project, ‘yung access roon, critical. Kasi ‘yung gini-generate nun, ‘yung proseso ng pagbasa ng balota. Digital trail ‘yun, para masiguro natin ang fidelity ng election returns. Andun ‘yung pagpapadala ng resulta from Point A to Point Z,” Alvia said in a separate interview on News To Go.

Alvia said that while Namfrel would still have access to the election returns even without the accreditation for Open Data Election Project, having copies of election returns won't be enough to secure the integrity of the polls.

"Kulang po ‘yun [ER] eh. Ito na po kasi ‘yung na blindside tayo from the previous three automated elections. Iisa nga ang source natin, isang transparency server, kaya dapat may independent validation of digital trail,” Alvia said.

"Sa bilangan, kailangan malaman ano oras at saan pinadala ang balota, sino nagpadala. ‘Yung sa election returns, aggregated na ‘yung eh. Paano natin maeensure ang fidelity ng election results na pinapadala?" he added.

Comelec Commissioner Luie Guia earlier said that random manual audit of votes need not access to such digital trail since previous random manual audit of votes for automated polls did not involve such digital footprint data. —Llanesca T. Panti/KBK, GMA News