In a four-page statement read during a press conference here Tuesday noon, the Asian Network for Free Elections (Anfrel) which deployed 21 observers from six Asian countries with significant Muslim population – Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Thailand – also recommended that local elections be “separated from the national one, to make the process more simple and transparent.”
Anfrel, founded in 1997, is a Bangkok-based regional election monitoring network organization engaged in the “democratization processes in the Asian region.”
Its thrusts are in “addressing human rights issues associated with democracy, ddemocratization, monitoring pre and post electoral processes, developing and training civil society groups that are interestedand working on issues relatede to democracy and democraization activies at national level in Asia.
The group also proposed the enforcement of the law on campaign finance. “Overspending must be discouraged, and the source of funding should be clear,” it said.
It noted that the problem is “mostly about the implementation and law enforcement” and that “impunity for election offenses must be addressed.”
“The law on modernization for counting should begin to be implemented to prepare for coming elections,” the group said.
The group spent eight days “observing the pre-election situation and Election Day” throughout the ARMM’s six provinces, “visiting more than 500 precincts.”
“We observed the preparations for the elections at the local level, and the situation before election day by interviewing candidates, election and other government officials, nongovernmental organizations, and citizens. We then observed the election day, up to the counting of ballots,” the statement read.
The statement acknowledged the “enthusiasm and determination” of voters to choose their government, the active support of Muslim and Christian leaders, and the best efforts of Comelec officials, teachers and poll workers but noted an election day “plagued with problems, and an environment marred by intimidation, threats and violence.”
“The low quality of elections in the ARMM, the general impression that the process is manipulated by outsiders, and the culture of impunity for election and political crime, can fuel calls for alternative government that can provide justice for the people,” the statement read.
The group said it hopes to see “significant reform in the election process and he legal and political environment to ensure the establishment of free and fair elections in the future.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)