Global rights coalition launches independent monitoring of 2022 elections

Global rights coalition launches independent monitoring of 2022 elections
This undated file photo shows the printing of ballots. The poll body and the National Printing Office are preparing to print ballots for manual overseas and local absentee voting.
Michael Varcas, file

MANILA, Philippines — A global rights coalition has launched an independent monitoring mission of the 2022 elections in the Philippines in light of its recent findings of a "culture of impunity" in the country. 

At an online press conference Monday morning, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines formally launched its Philippine Election International Observer Mission to serve as a watchdog during the 2022 polls.

For safety reasons, ICHRP chair Peter Murphy did not disclose where observers would be deployed but said their presence would "give some confidence that there are other eyes observing the situation."

"We're confident we can have people present in many parts of the Philippines," Murphy said, adding that "some 20" observers from the United States were already in the country, while another "30 or so" were on their way. 

Kontra Daya convenor Danilo Arao said that observers from the international community would be visiting election hotspots where election-related violence happens. 

"We're so used to what's happening [here] that we lose sight of the fact that what we consider as acceptable is actually unacceptable," Arao said when asked how the mission will complement the efforts Kontra Daya. 

"It's good for the international community to provide a deeper perspective on what's happening...they're able to make cross-border comparisons and we'll be able to share solutions."

Election observation from the international community has become common practice around the world and is described as an international norm.

"Research will be the order of the day," Arao said when asked what the observer mission would look like on the ground, comparing election observing to "a person doing data gathering." He added that the goal would be "the feeling that someone is monitoring the election."

The launch of the electoral watchdog mission was among the recommendations of the Investigate PH reports that urged independent monitoring of the country's elections. 

To recall, the reports released by Investigate PH described an alarming and worsening human rights situation under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, as well as pervasive electoral cheating. 

The Palace pushed back against the group's report, calling it "malicious" and claiming it was part of a "smear campaign" against the Philippine government.

What if the observer group is obstructed by law enforcement once it gets to the Philippines? "We will raise hell, you can be sure of that," Arao said. 

Franco Luna 

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