Namfrel hit by party list groups

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE National Movement for Free Elections, which is conducting an unofficial quick count of the May 14 elections, came under fire yesterday from party-list organizations for not disclosing the breakdown of votes for the seats allocated to marginalized and underprivileged organizations in Congress.

Melchor Monsod, a member of the national council of leading party-list group Buhay, accused Namfrel of deliberately refusing to say where the votes for its party-list tally had been coming from.

“In the senatorial race, Namfrel discloses the breakdown of votes down to the provincial level. But it does not say where the votes from its party-list tally are coming from. This is suspicious, to say the least,” Monsod, whose Buhay party is currently third in the Namfrel tally, said.

Namfrel secretary general Eric Alvia said his group had not been breaking down the votes for its party-list tally because it was focusing on the senatorial elections.

Alvia admitted that there had been “pressure” from party-list groups for Namfrel to break down its tally for the race for House seats designated for them, but insisted that the organization was giving priority to the Senate elections.

But Monsod questioned Alvia’s explanation, saying Namfrel should be getting data for all its tallies from one source—the official sixth copies of the election returns that the group gets as the designated partner of the Commission on Elections tasked to conduct the quick count.

“If they can break down the senatorial votes to the provinces, why can’t they do that for the party-list race? Don’t they get the votes from the same source anyway?” he asked.

A total of 93 party-list groups are disputing up to 50 seats in the House of Representatives. A party-list group gets one House seat if it gets at least 2 percent of all the votes cast for party-list groups, with a maximum three seats set aside per winning group.

The latest Namfrel tally has two left-leaning groups, Bayan Muna (with 72,935 votes) and Gabriela (71,256) ahead of Buhay (68,766). Leftist groups have dominated the election for party-list organizations in recent elections.

Yesterday, Namfrel’s count bogged down again after the group decided to “de-cluster” some precincts because of alleged discrepancies in the figures it had been receiving from its volunteers.

“Some precincts have gone beyond 100 percent [of the votes cast],” Alvia said. Alvia also said that some of their volunteers had been complaining that they were being denied their official copies of the returns and were even being barred from entering places where the official counting was being conducted.

Meanwhile, in the slower-paced official tally of the Commission on Elections, opposition senatorial candidate Francis Escudero dislodged fellow oppositionist Loren Legarda in yesterday’s tally.

Genuine Opposition bets continued to dominate the Senate race, with only two candidates from the administration’s Team Unity in the so-called “Magic 12.”