MANILA, Philippines — A total of 104 foreign groups will be observing the conduct of the May 9 national and local elections in the country on Monday.
According to Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Juan Andres Bautista, the foreigners come from the different parts of the world to witness the third automated elections in the country.
“Fifty of them have flown in from Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, Nepal, Turkey, Indonesia, Thailand, and Korea,” he said.
The poll body chief said that a seminar was conducted for the visitors, where he, Commissioner Christian Robert Lim and Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) National Chairperson Henrieta de Villa were guest speakers.
“They want to learn more about our automated elections. I spoke first speaker. Senior Commissioner Lim and PPCRV and former Ambassador De Villa also spoke,” he said.
Bautista added, “the Philippines is becoming one of the leaders in automated elections. Instead of us learning from them, it is the other way around, we are sharing our international best practices, especially those looking to transform from manual to automated (polls).”
He said that more than 50 other foreign observers who are members of embassies and international organizations based in the country would like to observe the elections on Monday.
Earlier, the poll body reminded foreign observers to maintain non-partisanship or else be held liable for committing an election offense.
Based on Comelec Resolution No. 10079, foreign nationals and foreign organizations accredited as foreign observers in the elections must not engage in partisan political activities.
“It shall be unlawful for any foreigner, foreign group, organization, committee or association to engage in partisan political activities, which refer to acts designed to promote the election or defeat of a particular candidate or candidates to public office,” according to the Resolution dated March 11.
They are also prohibited from aiding any candidate or political party, whether directly or indirectly; as well as to contribute in connection to any election campaign or partisan political activity and taking part or influence in any manner in the conduct of the elections.
Commission of the said prohibited acts constitute an election offense, which carries a penalty of one to six years imprisonment and deportation after the prison term has been served.
Accreditation of foreign election observers is until June 30, the end of the Election Period. PNA/northboundasia.com