MANILA, 26 June 2015 – The ASEAN Workshop on Election Observation, the first ever gathering of the region’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Election Management Body leaders and regional organisations that conduct election observations, wrapped up yesterday in Manila, Philippines.

During the two-day workshop, participants tackled the important role of election observation missions in an election and the benefits and challenges they bring in election administration. They also discussed the roles and relationships between election management bodies and election observers and the crucial role of international election observation missions’ recommendations in protecting and strengthening the integrity of elections in the ASEAN region.

Philippine’s Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Chairman Andres Bautista emphasised the importance of election observation and shared to the participants the Philippine’s experience on this very important aspect in poll administration. “For the host country, election observers are an invaluable source of third-party opinions, if you will, on how adeptly the polls have been managed, how protected the electorate’s rights and privileges have been, and ultimately, on how credible the elections were. For the observers, missions such as these represent an opportunity to learn more about how things work in the host country. Election observation missions do not just offer insight into politics after all. The interaction of observers with a broad spectrum of stakeholders and the electorate also brings with it a more meaningful understanding of the culture, the aspirations, and the values of the host country’s people,” Chairman Bautista said.

Meanwhile, Department of Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Raphael E. Seguis said the Philippines is about to embark on a national election less than a year from now, that is why they “deemed it necessary to organize this workshop in order to share with ASEAN and our friends, our experiences, and learn from like-minded regional institutions like you.”

Seguis said the Philippines is committed to strengthen its electoral processes by learning more about elections observation, thereby helping in the development of democracy and democratic ideals in the region. “Increasing transparency is one good outcome that may be expected from holding effective elections observations. Corollary to increasing transparency is the improvement of governance and accountability of institutions, which we all aim for in ASEAN. When we achieve these goals, we would not only raise our profile as a regional organization but contribute to building a regional climate that is conducive to attracting business in the region and furthering our economic integration,” he added.

Seguis said further that “the holding of this workshop is a manifestation that democratic principles have indeed taken root in ASEAN and that we are moving towards the same direction as other regional organizations like the Organization of American States, European Union, African Union, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, even as we develop our own unique perspective, approaches, and solutions.”

The ASEAN Workshop on Election Observation ended with messages of encouragement from H.E. Dr. AKP Mochtan, ASEAN Deputy Secretary-General for Community and Corporate Affairs and H.E. Elizabeth P. Buensuceso, Permanent Representative of the Philippines to ASEAN.

The ASEAN Workshop on Election Observation is jointly organized by the Philippines’ COMELEC, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the International Institute for Democracy Electoral Assistance (IDEA), and funded by ASEAN – ROK Special Cooperation Fund.