COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND LENTE PARTNER FOR CLEAN AND HONEST ELECTIONS

14 05 2007

The Commission on Human Rights and LENTE, the Legal Network for Truthful Elections, have signed an agreement to perform complementary tasks to “achieve clean, honest, orderly and credible national and local elections.” 

The Memorandum of Agreement was signed by CHR Chairperson Purificacion C. Quisimbing and LENTE Co-convenors Atty. Jose Vicente B. Salazar, president of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines; and Atty. Carlos P. Medina, Jr., chief legal counsel of One Voice and director of the Ateneo Human Rights Center. Both organizations believe that clean and honest elections are important for the survival and strengthening of a democratic society. “We are happy that the CHR has committed to encourage its lawyers, investigators and paralegals to volunteer as citizen monitors with LENTE during the canvassing of votes at the provincial levels.” Atty. Medina said. The additional manpower, he said, will boost the growing number of volunteers who will monitor the canvassing of votes in 1,600 municipalities, 81 provinces, and 17 regions.

A network of lawyers, law students, paralegals and other trained volunteers from 28 organizations all over the country, LENTE will train around 60 CHR volunteers on basic election laws, particularly those concerning the canvassing process, its rules and procedure. “We will also deploy CHR volunteers in their preferred areas of assignment, and provide them with personnel and logistical support crucial to monitoring work.” Atty. Medina said.

The first network of its kind, LENTE will fill in the missing link in previous elections: legal recourse for electoral irregularities.

Already, the lawyers’ organization has trained thousand of volunteers from all of the country’s regions. Training continues to date. The groups organized by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines and One Voice, aspires to gather 10,000 volunteers across the Philippines.

Atty. Medina cited the role that the youth plays in ensuring the integrity of the May 14 elections. “Our regional coordinators are law students who have volunteered their time and expertise to buttress LENTE’s efforts,” he said.

LENTE members, including the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines – National Secretariat for Social Action, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, the National Movement for Free Elections, the Ateneo Law School Students Council, Bishop Businessmen’s Conference, have committed to offer legal services at local and national levels which will be made available to provide a quick legal response to election complaints and irregularities.

The Cebu and the Davao Lady Lawyers Associations, the University of the Philippines Colleges of Law and Law Student Government, the University of San Carlos Law Student Council, and SALIGAN – the Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal, as well as inter-faith institutions such as the Philippines Council for Islam and Democracy, and the Philippines Council of Evangelical Churches and Interfaith, Inc., are also part of the group.The LENTE National Secretariat is based at the Ateneo Human Rights Center, Ateneo Professional School, 20 Rockwell Drive, Makati City. Telephone numbers (02) 899-7691 local 2123, or email aacunesco@yahoo.com. 

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