By Johanna M. Sampan Reporter
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) announced on Tuesday that it can proclaim eight winning senators 48 hours after the voting period.
“In the senatorial race, we expect at the very least in 48 hours, eight as minimum [to be proclaimed]. . . but it is also possible to know more,” Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. told reporters.
He added that all of the winning senators or the “Magic 12” can be proclaimed as soon as the votes are counted, but this would depend on the margin of votes between the 12th and 13th candidates.
“If the distance is big, maybe we can already proclaim all of them. But if the margin is very small, then we might have to defer at least the numbers 11, 12 and 13,” he explained.
He added that they can make the proclamation after they have revised their own rules on proclamation of winners.
“The system before was that all precinct results must come out before you can proclaim. This was unreasonable,” Brillantes pointed out.
“We changed that. It’s one of the enhancements that we’ve done for the PCOS [precinct count optical scan]machines. Now you can proclaim without waiting for all results to be completed if the un-transmitted results will no longer affect the total results,” he explained.
In 2010, the Comelec proclaimed the first nine senators on May 15, five days after election day.
Under the Automated Election System (AES), results in the precincts are automatically transmitted to the Comelec central server aside from those sent to the “ladderized system” such as the municipal and provincial levels.
At least 30 international observers will be sent to various areas nationwide to monitor the May 13 election, the Compact for Peaceful and Democratic (Compact) said on Tuesday.
Compact National Coordinator Arnold Tarrobago said the foreign observers wanted to monitor “iconic electoral battles” such as Gov. Lilia Pineda of Pampanga versus former Gov. Ed Panlilio; former president and now Rep. Gloria Arroyo of Pampanga and former provincial administrator Vivian Dabu of Pampanga; Atty. Leni Robredo and Nelly Villafuerte for the Third District of Camarines Sur; Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao OIC Mujiv Hataman and Pax Mangudadatu; and three-way fight between Fr. Leo Casas against the powerful Kho and Lanete clans for the governorship of Masbate.
“Our 2013 international election observers have shown great interest in monitoring iconic electoral contests between those that proclaim to be on the side of reforms and those that are widely associated with traditional and patronage politics,” Tarrobago said.
“They are very interested on how these local electoral contests will play out three years into the term of President [Benigno] Aquino [3rd], who himself won the 2010 election under the banner of political reforms,” he furthered.
Dubbed as “International Team Bantay,” the 2013 International Observers Mission (IOM) is composed of parliamentarians, academics, youth and student leaders, and respected leaders from foreign political parties, media organizations and non-government organizations.
They come from Sweden, Denmark, USA, Japan, Australia, Germany, Spain, Burma, The Netherlands, Thailand, Afghanistan, Mongolia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
The IOM teams, along with representatives of their local host organizations, will be deployed to Cagayan, Pampanga, Camarines Sur, Masbate, Cebu and ARMM areas.
“Aside from iconic electoral battles, we consciously chose these areas because they had the following factors: history of election-related violence, fraud and political clans; presence of capable local civil society organizations doing election monitoring; and security and safety of the foreign election observers. In other words, these areas displayed a wide gamut of issues and conditions which we often see in Philippine elections,” Tarrobago explained.
He said the foreign observers’ mission, which will last for 10 days, includes a general orientation, press briefing, and planning for local monitoring and they will be in their local areas for five days.
Based on Comelec Resolution 9652, duly accredited foreign observers shall be allowed to observe election preparatory activities before Election Day at the Offices of the Election Officers (EO).
On May 13, they are allowed to observe the conduct of elections in any locality; conduct brief interviews with the Chairman and Members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) inside the polling place; conduct interviews with voters and other persons outside the polling place; and document their observation activities, as well as the conduct of elections, by means of audio, visual, or audio-visual recordings.
After Election Day, foreign observers are also allowed to monitor proceedings in the precinct until the counting and transmission of votes are over; and keep track of the transport of the PCOS machines after the voting, counting, and transmission.
However, the observers are 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.