Philippines: Kontra Daya slams Comelec ban on cell phones, cameras

May. 04, 2007

MANILA — The anti-fraud watchdog group Kontra Daya slammed as the recently announced ban on cell phones and cameras in precincts as another ridiculous concoction of the discredited Comelec. The group believes that the ban on these digital devices is meant to ensure another cover-up of massive fraud even at the precinct level.

Fr. Jose Dizon, Kontra Daya convenor branded the move as ridiculous and stupid and said that it would not in any way prevent vote-buying as the Comelec claims.

What is wrong with Chairman Abalaos? Why is he coming up with all these ridiculous and stupid issuances? Does he think he can restore the peoples trust in the Comelec by banning cell phones and cameras inside precincts? Dizon said.

In the first place, vote-buying has been around even before cell phones and digital cameras. What makes Abalos think that banning these devices will actually prevent vote-buying? the activist priest said.

The Comelec believes that cell phone and digital cameras will be used to verify if paid voters actually voted for certain candidates.

Dizon insisted that cell phone and digital cameras be allowed inside precincts because this serves as an immediate deterrent to election anomalies and can be used to document cases of fraud and violence.

Watchers and antifraud groups need cell phones and cameras so we can take pictures of the second copy of the Election Returns which will be posted in the precincts. This will help us keep track of the count as we enter the canvassing phase. We also need digital equipment so we can document our monitoring of the conduct of the elections. Even media has to resort to these devices so they can do their jobs, Dizon said.

We feel that the ban on cameras is another attempt at a cover up of fraud that can happen at the local levels. Abalos is trying to take away a weapon which can help us expose fraud. The Comelec is in a see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil mode, Dizon said.

The anti-fraud group urged poll watchers, independent monitors and the Opposition to defy the ban and to aggressively document incidents of fraud and violence at the precinct level.

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