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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Omnibus Election Code - Article XV

OMNIBUS ELECTION CODE
Article XV

WATCHERS


Sec. 178. Official watchers of candidates. - Every registered political party, coalition of political parties and every independent candidate shall each be entitled to one watcher in every polling place.
     No person shall be appointed watcher unless he is a qualified voter of the city or municipality, of good reputation and shall not have been convicted by final judgment of any election offense or of any other crime, must know how to read and write Pilipino, English, Spanish or any of the prevailing local dialects, and not related within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity to the chairman or any member of the board of election inspectors in the polling place where he seeks appointment as a watcher.
     Each candidate, political party or coalition of political parties shall designate in every province, highly urbanized city or district in the Metropolitan Manila area, a representative authorized to appoint watchers, furnishing the provincial election supervisor or the city election registrar, as the case may be, the names of such representatives. The provincial election supervisors shall furnish the municipal election registrars and election registrars of component cities with the list of such representatives.
     In the case of Metropolitan Manila, the designation of the persons authorized to appoint watchers shall be filed with the Commission, which shall furnish the list of such representatives to the respective city and municipal election registrars.
Sec. 179. Rights and duties of watchers. - Upon entering the polling place, the watchers shall present and deliver to the chairman of the board of election inspectors his appointment, and forthwith, his name shall be recorded in the minutes with a notation under his signature that he is not disqualified under the second paragraph of Section 178. The appointments of the watchers shall bear the personal signature or the facsimile signature of the candidate or the duly authorized representatives of the political party or coalition of political parties who appointed him or of organizations authorized by the Commission under Section 180. The watchers shall have the right to stay in the space reserved for them inside the polling place. They shall have the right to witness and inform themselves of the proceedings of the board of election inspectors, including its proceedings during the registration of voters, to take notes of what they may see or hear, to take photographs of the proceedings and incidents, if any, during the counting of votes, as well as of election returns, tally boards and ballot boxes, to file a protest against any irregularity or violation of law which they believe may have been committed by the board of election inspectors or by any of its members or by any persons, to obtain from the board of election inspectors a certificate as to the filing of such protest and/or of the resolution thereon, to read the ballots after they shall have been read by the chairman, as well as the election returns after they shall have been completed and signed by the members of the board of election inspectors without touching them, but they shall not speak to any member of the board of election inspectors, or to any voter, or among themselves, in such a manner as would distract the proceedings, and to be furnished with a certificate of the number of votes in words and figures cast for each candidate, duly signed and thumbmarked by the chairman and all the members of the board of election inspectors. Refusal of the chairman and the members of the board of election inspectors to sign and furnish such certificate shall constitute an election offense and shall be penalized under this Code.
Sec. 180. Other watchers. - The duly accredited citizens arm of the Commission shall be entitled to appoint a watcher in every polling place. Other civic, religious, professional, business, service, youth and any other similar organizations, with prior authority of the Commission, shall be entitled collectively to appoint one watcher in every polling place.

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