Tuesday, August 28, 2007

PPCRV RECOMMENDATIONS AFTER ELECTIONS 2007

PPCRV RECOMMENDATIONS AFTER ELECTIONS 2007



FOR THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES

The President has declared that the remaining three years of her term would be the “legacy phase” – we of the PPCRV are heartened by this declaration. We thus ask her with courageous political will to take the actions necessary to restore public trust in the Commission on Elections, which is the government’s lead electoral institution. Thus too our elections will regain credibility, so greatly damaged in recent elections.
1. In February 2008, exactly six months from now, the present Chairman of the COMELEC and two of its Commissioners will be retiring. There will then be four (4) vacancies (there is already one vacancy at present) to be filled in the Commission.


With due respect we strongly urge with regard to the selection of nominees for the vacancies:

- that all “election stakeholders” be provided due opportunity to discuss and formulate the criteria for nominations for future members of the Commission;

- that a multi-sectoral selection committee be officially set up by the President; a committee made up of men and women of known and tested integrity and competence;

- that this committee accept and screen all nominations submitted to it, and that this process be as open and as public as possible;

- that, as noted above, the committee’s activities and proceedings be disclosed to the public, so that the public may have the scrutiny and feedback desired.

The PPCRV declares its trust in the President’s statesmanship in this most crucial process, which is in fact a bottom-line issue, if our people’s faith is to be restored in our future elections.


2. The widespread fear remains among our people that Charter Change will be used to extend term limits in public office, and that this will be used to prevent the holding of elections in 2010. In strongest terms we appeal to the President:

- to do everything in her power to thwart these political maneuvers (that we fear might be set in motion once again), and thus to prevent the ongoing attacks on elections, the fundamental basis for our democracy and its institutions;


- to put a stop to attacks embodied by the Guns, Goons and Gold wielded by sinister forces and vested interests who care little or nothing for the common good.



FOR THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS


The PPCRV has worked closely with the Commission on Elections as its accredited Citizen’s Arm for voters’ education and pollwatching, including canvassing, since 1992. It can attest to the fact born from experience that there are indeed good public servants in the COMELEC. But due to the recurrence, election after election, of anomalies, irregularities and fraud which have not diminished with time instead increased in alarming proportions and evolved in different forms, the COMELEC’s competence and credibility are put to question. As its Citizens Arm greatly desirous of its good name, the PPCRV hopefully enjoins COMELEC:


1. to conduct a thorough housecleaning of its rank and file so that only civil servants who practice electoral values, possess sound managerial skills, sufficient knowledge and competence in conducting elections, and are not tainted with graft and corruption nor perverse loyalty to vested interests will serve as its national and regional directors, provincial election supervisors and election officers in all levels;

2. to reshuffle its election officers in all levels with regularity one month (not less to allow for adjustments and re-orientation) before any national and local elections, and to re-assign at any time those perceived to have established links with the local politicians, making sure that they are designated to areas outside the region of their previous assignment;

3. That RA 9369, otherwise known as An Act Authorizing the COMELEC to Use An Automated Election System, be implemented as soon as possible, immediately after the elected officials of elections 2007 have been proclaimed; and that membership in the Advisory Council be expanded to include its Citizen’s Arm in the implementation of the law;

4. That the computerized voters’ list be released at least one month before any election, with the accredited Citizen’s Arm being given priority for its dissemination, or preferably placed online as a component of electoral modernization but with all the necessary security protocols in place for public scrutiny and feedback;

5. That the Omnibus Election Code be reviewed and/or amended so that the casting, counting and canvassing of votes are not exposed to blatant manipulation, substitution and other forms of cheating, and to include contingencies for confronting situations wherein the BEIs and BOCs fail to appear for their tasks on election day;

6. That longstanding appalling incidents which have characterized ARMM elections, especially underscored by the Maguindanao protracted and questionable canvassing of the 2007 elections, be evaluated and studied in-depth, engaging local election stakeholders in a dialogue for this, since such oft-repeated incidents call for drastic electoral reforms.


And finally, we hope and pray that the Commission on Elections may have the courage and strength to revisit the “Hello Garci” controversy if only to be able to rid itself of any and all shadows connected with it. And in so doing put a closure to this incubus that has stalked our elections, even our national conscience. It might in the end, and with God’s grace, help in the binding and healing of wounds.


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