No quick count scenario in some provinces feared
MARAMAG, Bukidnon (MindaNews/7 May) – A citizens’ quick count might
not be possible in some provinces due to the delayed accreditation of
the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) and constraints
being faced by the Catholic Church’s Social Action Center, which heads
the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and doubles
as the NAMFREL’s working force, according to a priest actively
involved in safeguarding the ballot.
Fr. Danilo Paciente, who is the Malaybalay diocese’s PPCRV coordinator
and concurrent NAMFREL provincial coordinator, said “we can foresee it
coming” even if a local quick count mechanism could still be organized
days before election day.“We can expect that there will be provinces and towns where there will
be no quick count,” he said.
Paciente said the refusal of the COMELEC to accredit the Social Action
Center to do its own quick count has added to the delay in organizing.
He said SAC has sought accreditation when a NAMFREL accreditation was
But Paciente noted NAMFREL’s lack of manpower in the grassroots level,
thus relying on SAC’s network.
The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) accredited NAMFREL on March 22
to do quick count in the elections after it reportedly failed to
submit 80 percent of quick count results the poll body required in the
2004 presidential elections.
Paciente said NAMFREL, in the past elections, has always sought the
partnership of the Catholic church’s National Secretariat for Social
Action (NASSA), which in turn taps the local SAC of a diocese.
He said some dioceses have prepared only for poll education and poll
watching, not quick count.
He said the scenario is dangerous because it affects the holding of an
alternative parallel count to the elections.
He cited the cases of some regions and provinces, such as those in the
Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, where election results are
“It would be useless to have quick count in some areas, and not in
others,” he said.
He said NAMFREL or NASSA should send in personnel to areas where a
quick count would be difficult to put up.
“It is up for the conviction of the bishops to commit to do quick
count in their dioceses despite the haste,” he said.
Paciente said the Diocese of Malaybalay will do quick count even if
some parishes have yet to organize their teams.
The other big problem of the quick count and the church’s involvement
in ensuring clean, peaceful, and honest elections, he said, is
financial in nature.
He said most of the logistic needs would come from local sources,
which have not been part of the regular budget.
“We would rely on a small portion of support from NASSA, but mostly
from local donors and other sources,” he said.
Paciente admitted that the church preparation was delayed. He said
there is also lack of a wider involvement of other stakeholders, like
other churches and sectors in the SAC’s effort on the elections.
(Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)