By Minka Klaudia Tiangco
The National Citizens Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) said it was thinking of filing a motion before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to reconsider their petition to grant them access to open election data and information.
This, after Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez clarified in a radio interview that the election agency has not declined the poll watchdog group’s petition, rather the approval has yet to be issued.
Initially, Namfrel Chairman Gus Lagman said it might be too late for them to file the motion before the Comelec en banc as it might need to resolve other issues in its final meetings before the national and local elections on May 13.
But Namfrel National Treasurer Lito Averia said they can just write a letter addressed to the Comelec.
“We’re not discounting the possibility of writing the Comelec regarding the data we are asking for,” Averia said in a media forum on Tuesday.
“It may not be a motion for reconsideration to the en banc or being silent on the access of data, we may simply write the Commission regarding the data we are asking for,” he added.
Averia also said that the Comelec may grant them access to the open election data and information after the midterm polls.
Lagman said Namfrel was willing to be reinstated as citizen’s arm of Comelec if the election commission grants them full access to the data they were asking for.
“Pwede naman naming bawiin ‘yung sinabi namin. Kung ganon, tuloy ‘yung gagawin namin (We can take back what we said. If they grant us access to the data, we can continue our work),” he said. “Our decision will not change unless the Comelec changes theirs.”
However, Jimenez said in a previous interview that, although the Comelec was open for discussion with the poll watchdog group, he was not sure if the poll body will easily reinstate Namfrel’s role as citizen’s arm.
“Buong akala namin bahagi sila ng proseso, bigla nilang tinalikuran (We thought they were part of the process, but they suddenly turned their backs on it),” he said.
Last week, Namfrel declined its accredidation as citizen’s arm of Comelec after the poll body allegedly granted them limited access to election data.
“Ang immediate reaction namin ay ‘Wag niyo na kami i-accredit kung ‘yang dalawang bagay lang ang ibibigay niyo sa amin (Our immediate reaction was ‘Do not give us accreditation if you are only going to give us two out of all the data we are asking for’),'” Lagman said.
“Magagawa namin ‘yung trabaho namin kahit wala ‘yung accreditation (We can do our jobs even if we do not have the accreditation). We don’t need the accreditation if they’re not going to give us the data, anyway,” he added. #MatalinongBoto2019