9 May 2010
Election watchdog AES Watch has set up a web-based Citizens’ Election Monitor. Citizens are invited to serve as volunteer reporters in their respective locations and report incidents related to the automated polls to the AES Watch website.
Election incidents reporting
Reporting of incidents is easy. Reports may be sent via SMS, email or web. Smart mobile users may text reports to number 5656 (typing “BOTO
The report must include the precinct number, municipality or city, and province, followed by the incident. Please categorize the report into any of the following: PCOS/ballot/paraphernalia delivery problem; voting delayed; voting irregularities; voter concerns; PCOS/transmission problem; canvassing problem; harassment/violence; others.
Reports received are pinned on a digital map of the Philippines appearing on the website, which is accessible to anyone. These, along with reports from various advocacy groups, will provide timely information that can direct Comelec and appropriate authorities to address the reported incidents. It is expected that TV and radio programs will use the AES Watch generated data for their own reports and commentaries.
The monitoring center of AES Watch will be located at Ang Bahay ng Alumni, Magsaysay Ave., at the U.P. campus, Diliman, Quezon City. It will operate from May 8 until May 12 or as needed to monitor developments in the conduct of the automated elections.
AES Watch is a voluntary, independent and nonpartisan coalition of concerned groups and individuals monitoring the 2010 elections in the Philippines. Its conveners include the Center for People’s Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) and Computer Professionals Union that has set up their own election monitoring systems which will share reports with AES Watch.
According to Alfredo Pascual, AES Watch lead convener and president of the U.P. Alumni Association (UPAA), the monitoring operation was organized because of the unresolved vulnerabilities affecting the AES.
“The original mandate of AES Watch was just to monitor the preparation of the AES. We were hoping that with various advocacy groups combining forces and speaking with one voice in a coalition, Comelec would be more responsive to our pleas to provide for measures addressing issues of readiness and trustworthiness of the AES,” said Pascual.
“Since Comelec did not listen much, we saw the need for AES Watch to continue with the monitoring of the election process itself while continuing with the advocacy to assert for transparent and credible elections,” he added.
AES Watch invited all conveners and concerned advocates to pitch in their help and support in monitoring the AES that Comelec is implementing on May 10. Its monitoring plan came at a late stage, but got a boost from young volunteers practicing in the field of information technology.
“Fortunately, we came across a team of young IT experts who were already working on a web-based election incidents reporting system using the Ushahidi platform, but did not have the logistical support for it. We also realized that some of our conveners (such as the CenPEG, Computer Professionals’ Union, and others) had already developed their respective monitoring systems.
“So we decided to proceed and add value by arranging to provide a website with more capacity and speed that will pull together the data gathered by our partners, while also getting citizens to report directly to the AES Watch system,” Pascual explained.
AES Watch also found support from the business sector. “The timely decision of Eastern Communications to support the project also strengthened our resolve to go ahead,” he explained.
UPAA offered its Board Room to serve as the monitoring center. Other individuals from the business sector also pitched in financial support to run the center operations.
Young IT enthusiasts, experts and bloggers have volunteered to set up the website and take care of running the monitoring system.
These IT professionals include those from Google-Philippines; 98Labs.com; bloggers’ organizations 100ARAW.com, Blogwatch.ph, Cebu Bloggers Society, Mindanao Bloggers Community, GameOPS, Tech Tanod, Election Bloggers and Reklamotion; Philippine Online Chronicles; Vote Report Philippines and TXTPower; Workers Electoral Watch; and multimedia groups RockEd Philippines, Code Radio, and Kodao Productions.
The CenPEG and its European Union-funded election monitor Project 30-30, and its partners, Computer Professionals’ Union (CPU) and Coordinating Council for People’s Development and Governance (CPDG), among others, agreed to share data from their nationwide monitoring systems.
The Association of Schools of Public Administration of the Philippines (ASPAP) committed to send in their volunteers.
The collective efforts of concerned organizations and individuals enabled AES Watch to quickly launch its citizens’ election monitor. (Bulatlat.com)