Comelec critics file rights case in UNBy Philip C. Tubeza
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Civil society groups on Friday brought their issue with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to the United Nations, accusing the Philippine government of violating their right to vote and of turning over to a foreign entity the conduct of the technical aspect of the country’s elections.
The group, led by former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr., submitted a petition to the UN Human Rights Committee, a treaty-based mechanism in the UN system for the redress of international human rights abuses.
They want the committee to declare the Philippines in violation of their right to suffrage.
“We request that this committee find and declare that the Republic of the Philippines breached its international obligation to guarantee the right of the [petitioners] to the free expression of their will as electors,” they said.
The petitioners said they had to appeal to the United Nations because they had exhausted all domestic remedies, including the filing of three separate cases in the Supreme Court.
“The Philippines violated the [petitioners’] right to the free expression of their will as electors during the May 10, 2010, automated elections, and continues to violate such right in its conduct of the May 13, 2013, automated elections,” said the petition, which was sent by e-mail and registered mail to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland.
“[The government] gave complete control of the technical aspects of these automated elections to a foreign entity, Smartmatic, thereby compromising the secrecy, security, and validity of the votes made or might be made by the [petitioners],” it said.
The UN Human Rights Committee, one of nine UN human rights treaty bodies, considers cases pertaining to the compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of states that have acceded to its protocols. It allows persons within the jurisdiction of these states to submit complaints to it requesting a determination whether provisions of the covenant have been violated.