By Martin Sadongdong
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) expressed confidence Monday that the conduct of random manual audit (RMA) of the midterm elections will be successful even with the replacement of poll watchdog National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) as its citizen’s arm.
Comelec Commissioner Luie Tito Guia said all was well between the two parties even after the Namfrel declined the accreditation from the Comelec to be its official partner for the conduct of the RMA.
“In fact some of the things that we are doing are recommendations from Namfrel. I asked them even if you are not with us anymore, if we can still use the improvements that you suggested, then okay,” Guia told reporters at the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) Headquarters at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) in Pasay City.
Poll watchdog Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) had replaced Namfrel as the main convenor of the RMA.
Asked whether there were preparations that might no longer be implemented, now that they have a new partner for RMA, Guia confidently said: “Wala. Lahat magagawa (None. Everything will go as planned.)”
According to the Comelec, random manual audit was a process of examination “to determine whether the automated count of the Vote Counting Machines (VCMs) under an Automated Election System (AES) is accurate based on a manual verification of said count.”
“Requirement kasi ng batas ‘yan para icompare ‘yong precinct result sa pwedeng basahin ng mata. Ang gagawin namin pipili kami randomly ng presinto sa buong Pilipinas, babasahin ng mata ang balota at ‘yong bilang ay ico-compare sa generated ng makina (It is a requirement of the law to compare the precinct result which was manually audited. What we do here is that we select random precincts across the entire Philippines, then we manually audit the ballot, and the result will be compared to what was generated by the machine),” Guia explained.
Of the 246 cities and municipalities, a total of 715 polling precincts will again be randomly selected for the manual audit. The manual audit will start on Wednesday at the Diamond Hotel in Manila, Guia said.
Among the cities and municipalities that were randomly selected for the RMA include the 1st and 2nd legislative districts of Tondo, Manila in the National Capital Region (NCR); Dolores, Abra; La Trinidad, Benguet; 5th legislative district of Binalonan, Pangasinan; Mogpog, Marinduque; Viga, Catanduanes; 2nd legislative district of Omar, Sulu and Bongao, Tawi-Tawi.
“What we will commit is we will report what we see. Whatever the implication is, we will report what we see,” he concluded.