Philippine Report: Election

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CEPPS Philippines Election Observation Program Strengthening the Electoral Process IFES Final Report

August 2004

Authors: Peter Erben Beverly Hagerdon Thakur Craig Jenness Ian Smith

The IFES team wishes to thank the government and authorities of the Republic of the Philippines for the invitation to observe the 2004 election cycle, and for their cooperation and support throughout. It also wishes to thank the Commission on Elections (COMELEC), its chairman, commissioners and its many officials at all levels both for access and assistance during a very busy time. The IFES team wishes to thank the Supreme Court and numerous judges and court officials; and the many candidates, party representatives, NGO activists, media representatives, teachers, citizens, and other election stakeholders who took the time to share their views and experience with us. Election stakeholders in the NCR region, region IV, and region V also deserve special mention for their hospitality during field visits from IFES team members. We would also like to take this opportunity to commend the participants and guests of the working groups and Round Table for their enthusiastic discussion and commitment to electoral reform in the Philippines. In particular, all participants were honored by the presence and words of former President Corazon Aquino. The IFES team would like to thank all of the people with whom we met, and hopes the report does justice to their varied and thoughtful insights. Representatives of the Consortium on Electoral Reforms (CER) deserve special mention for their generosity and collegiality. Finally, the IFES team wishes to acknowledge and thank our partners at NDI and IRI, and USAID for their generous support.

This report was made possible through support provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development, under the terms of Award No. 492-A-00-04-00016-00. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Copyright © IFES, 2004

Table of Contents

1. Executive Summary 2. Introduction 3. Legal Framework 4. COMELEC 5. Pre-election Issues Automation of the Count and Canvass Electronic Transmission of Results Voter Registration Voter Education Training of BEIs and BOCs 6. Election Day Issues 7. Post-election Issues Canvassing Preliminary Election Results Complaints, Adjudication, and Sanctions Election-related Violence Cheating: Perception and Reality Constitutional Amendment 8. Summary Conclusion Annex I: List of Acronyms Annex II: Biographies Annex III: List of IFES Contacts Annex IV: Organizational Structure of COMELEC Annex V: Main Electoral Laws Annex VI: Misuse of State Resources and Abuse of Office of the President Annex VII: Social Context Endnotes

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Executive Summary

The Philippine Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is a constitutional body with broad powers designed to make it independent from other government bodies. Statutorily, COMELEC could be one of the most powerful electoral management bodies in the world. COMELEC suffers from a number of serious institutional deficiencies that limit its capacity to administer quality elections. It has limited professional and technical capacity; a weak and poorly resourced field structure; organizational problems including a commissioner-in-charge management approach; and an absence of standard operating procedures required to administer such a large organization. Because of its numerous shortcomings, COMELEC has relied extensively on support of other government bodies and civil society to administer elections. The 2004 election cycle was particularly flawed. COMELEC’s plans and programs for the May 10 elections were disrupted by the late release of funds by Congress and the Supreme Court’s decisions to stop the automation of polling, counting, and transmission of...
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