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Former Comelec and NAMFREL Chairman Christian Monsod's election contribution recognized through 2012 Baxter Award

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The National Citizens Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) proudly congratulates Mr. Christian Monsod for being the recipient of this year's Joe C. Baxter Award from the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES).

Joe Baxter was a long-time IFES employee who started his career in election administration in Louisiana, and then in Washington D.C. During his tenure in D.C., he was instrumental in transforming the election administration system from being poorly managed to a model system. Later on when he joined IFES, he was hailed as an advocate of free and fair elections and of citizens participation in election monitoring through his work with the organization, mainly in Africa, where he helped set up election commissions, draft election laws, and launch training programs for voter education and poll worker training.

The choice of Mr. Monsod as this year's recipient of the award named after Mr. Baxter could not be more appropriate. Mr. Monsod was chaiman of the Philippine Commission on Elections from 1991-1995. Under his tenure, the Comelec began its efforts to modernize Philippine elections through Operation MODEX (Modernization and Excellence), the components of which included the computerization of voters lists, as well as other initiatives to make the Philippine electoral system more transparent, efficient, and inclusive. At present, in its effort to modernize the election system and to make it more fair and inclusive, the Comelec is still trying to fulfill what the Monsod Commission envisioned and started almost 20 years ago.

Mr. Monsod's involvement in Philippine elections started in the early 1980s, as a founding member of NAMFREL. In the lead up to the historic 1986 elections, Christian and his wife Winnie (including their children) were instrumental in mobilizing volunteers, which, in 1986, totaled more than half a million. After a stint as the organization's secretary general, Mr. Monsod was national chairman of NAMFREL in 1987. Mr. Monsod is a believer in ordinary people being capable of extraordinary feats. "There were 250,000 of them in 1984, 500,000 in 1986, and 300,000 in 1987," Mr. Monsod wrote in 1988 in a Foreword to a book about NAMFREL, "each one a hero in his own right, driven by the same dream of peaceful change that many said was hopeless. Embattled and belittled, he persevered despite the odds and showed the world how heroic ordinary people can be."

At present, Mr. Monsod continues what he started in NAMFREL and the Comelec through the Legal Network for Free Elections (LENTE) and the Bishops-Businessmen's Conference (BBC) in believing that change is necessary and possible, and in recognizing and harnessing the power of ordinary citizens to effect change.

Congratulations Mr. Christian Monsod.
 
 
 
 
 
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