“We serve because we care”
VOTE WATCH PHILIPPINES 2004 ORGANIZED
Dateline: December 23, 2003
Leaders of several non-government organizations led by Dr. Fatemah Remedios C. Balbin of the Foundation for Social Justice, former Constitutional Commissioner Prof. Ponciano Bennagen and Prof. Leonard Estacio, Jr., both of the UP and the SENTRO, and National Secretary of the Philippine Peace and Solidarity Council, Atty./Engr. Antonio Paris, met yesterday and agreed to field observation teams during the national elections set in May, 2004. The group will register with the Commission on Elections.
Drawing on its extensive network of community-based organizations and fellow volunteer workers in the countryside, the group called “Vote Watch Philippines 2004” (VWP), will have representatives in strategic areas throughout the country.
To preserve its independence and non-partisan stance, the “Vote Watch” will rely solely on its own manpower and material resources. “All these years, we have worked without depending on anyone else, particularly politicians or political parties. We have no intention of endangering this independence now. To do so could compromise our principles,” said Prof. Bennagen.
The group will train the team members to observe objectively the conduct of elections and to prepare sworn reports for submittal to the United Nations and the world media. Possible affiliation with a highly respected and experienced international non-governmental organization accredited with the UN, is currently being threshed out to give further credence to its endeavor.
“Vote Watch” seeks to preclude any attempt by any person, or group, or party, to thwart the will of the electorate this 2004,” said Dr. Balbin. “We fear that some sectors, in their desperation to win at any price could resort to illegal moves and stratagems. We are determined to be an effective force in protecting the democratic process,” she added as she signaled the start of their preparations nationwide.