Comelec to consider 1-week extension of voter registration

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 24, 2021   •   263

MANILA, Philippines—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it will discuss in the next management committee meeting the possibility of extending the voter registration for one week.

Comelec Commissioner Aimee Ferolino on Friday (September 24) said they are considering the one-week extension for voter registration amid the clamor of Congress for  a one-month extension due to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We decided in the next en banc we will treat the matter of the extension once again, upon consultations with the steering committee and other committees that will be affected by possible extension,” she said.

The House suffrage and electoral reforms committee swiftly approved on Friday a bill seeking to extend voter registration until October 31. The Senate on Wednesday (September 22) also approved on second reading a similar bill extending voter registration until October 31.

However, Ferolino said a month-long extension will be difficult for Comelec since it will affect other calendar activities, including the filing of certificate of candidacy.

“We will discuss this matter with our directors and personnel. The timelines are so tight, a one month extension would be very difficult,” she said. AAC (with reports from Nel Maribojoc)

 

Comelec supports bill penalizing nuisance candidates

Maris Federez   •   October 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has announced its support for the proposed bill that seeks to penalize those who will be declared ‘nuisance candidates’.

Under House Bill 9557 is the provision that will mete out a penalty of Php100,000 to a nuisance candidate and his supporter.

Director Maria Norina Tangaro-Casingal, head of Comelec Law Department said that under Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code, a candidate is considered a nuisance if he is found guilty of making a mockery of the elections, running to cause confusion for bearing the same name with another candidate, and showing no real intention to run for a position.

“We support the imposition of the fine, the P100,000,” Casingal said.

“And we also would like to propose that those who have been declared as nuisance candidates be disqualified for running for 2 successive elections […] They can no longer substitute, your honor, if they have been declared as a nuisance candidate,” she insisted.

Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms chairperson Imee Marcos, however, asked Comelec first of a more detailed data on previous candidates who were declared a nuisance for the panel to further study the issue.

“We should have the data and the experience to compare. Nagdadahan-dahan din tayo kasi ayaw din ng Supreme Court na palibhasa […] sinasabi na hindi masyadong di kilala o walang pera dahil o walang partido, hindi naman basta-basta i-disqualify,” Marcos said.

Election lawyer, Atty. George Garcia, on the other hand, said that rather than meting out penalties or fines straightaway, the law must be amended first to clear out the details on the merits of declaring somebody a nuisance candidate.

Garcia believes the penalties will cause undue concern or fear among ordinary Filipinos who may have intentions of running for any government position.

“Minsan, halimbawa sinabi lang na ‘meron ka na bang political history? Nakatakbo na ba ikaw kahit barangay chairman man lang o naging barangay tanod?’ Hello? Nasaan sa batas natin na dapat naging barangay tanod o barangay chairman o kung anuman? Pero ‘yon, maniwala kayo’t sa hindi, pagka naghi-hearing patungkol sa nuisance, nasasabi ‘yun. Nababanggit. Pero wala naman sa batas ‘yon,” Garcia said.

“Kung ‘yon pa rin, yung Sec. 69 pa rin na nagde-define ng nuisance candidate, tapos bigla ka lang magdadagdag ng fine at saka ng perpetual disqualification to hold public office, halimbawa, sa aking palagay, parang magbo-border na siya sa violation ng equal protection clause under the Constitution,” he further said.

Ateneo School of Government executive director Professor Edmund Tayao also underscored the need to closely look into the proposed bill.

“There are those who really want to offer themselves as an alternative candidate to the public; albeit, however, they don’t have the resources to conduct a respectable campaign. Kasi yun ‘yung definition natin ng nuisance candidate. Nade-declare ka’ng nuisance candidate kung nag-file ka ng candidacy mo, kandidato ka, but it turns out hindi ka naman makakapagkampanya nationally. This has to be looked into closely.”

Meanwhile, Comelec is set to release a tentative list of candidates for the 2022 national and local elections on October 29. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

COMELEC spox says vote buying a poll offense

Robie de Guzman   •   October 27, 2021

COMELEC spokesperson James Jimenez

MANILA, Philippines – Vote buying is an election offense “regardless of financial situation or noble intentions,” Commission on Elections (COMELEC) spokesperson James Jimenez said Wednesday.

Jimenez made the remark a day after Vice President Leni Robredo said that Filipinos should take the money being offered to them but still vote for their preferred candidate.

Robredo, a presidential aspirant and standard bearer of the opposition for the 2022 elections, on Tuesday said that Filipinos who are offered money in exchange for their vote should accept the money but still vote according to their conscience.

While vote buying is illegal, she said that individuals engaging in such act is hard to apprehend as it is not done in public and the money could now be transferred electronically.

She made the response when asked on the issue of vote buying during a forum with a group of household service workers who support her election bid.

“Lagi kong sinasabi, tanggapin niyo kasi galing sa inyo ‘yan. Pera ‘yan ng taumbayan. Pero iboto mo kung ano ang nasa konsiyensiya mo,” Robredo said.

But Jimenez countered Robredo’s statement.

“I disagree with the notion of taking the money and voting according to your conscience. Vote buying is an election offense regardless of financial situation or noble intentions,” he said.

“Di dapat ginagawa, at di dapat sina-suggest yan sa mga botante,” he added.

Under Omnibus Election Code, vote buying and vote selling are considered as election offense.

Election watchdog urges Comelec to expand coverage of local absentee voting

Maris Federez   •   October 27, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — An election watchdog group has appealed to the Commission on Elections to expand the sectors that will be covered by local absentee voting.

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) believes that expanding the coverage of the local absentee voting will help increase the voter turnout in the coming elections as this will guarantee a larger number of Filipinos being able to vote even before May 9, 2022.

“Palalawakin pa yong sectors na pwedeng bumoto including all our teachers na magsisilbi as our electoral boards. So pagpalagay natin during presidential election na ang voter turnout na aabot lang ng close to 70 percent ay umabot pa siya ng 80 percent,” said PPCRV trustee and secretary Dr. Arwin Serrano.

The local absentee voting is designed for those who are unable to go to the polling precincts on the actual day of the elections.

Among the sectors covered by the local absentee voting are members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, media, government officials and employees.

Voting will only be limited to national positions, including partylist representatives.

Serrano said they have already submitted their proposal to the Comelec and hope that this will be discussed during the en banc’s session.

Based on Comelec Resolution No. 10695, the last day of application for the local absentee voting is on March 7, 2022.

The voting period for absentee voters is from April 27 to 29. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Dante Amento)

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