MANILA – Senator Aquilino ‘Koko’ Pimentel III urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday to immediately comply with the Supreme Court (SC) ruling to print ballot receipts during the automated elections on May 9.
”I’m sad that was the Comelec’s immediate reaction (possible postponement of election). They should have immediately study first the serious compliance on the SC ruling,” Pimentel, chairman of the Senate Committee on Electoral Reform, said in a radio DZMM interview.
Pimentel clarified that he is not against the Comelec’s move to motion for reconsideration but while waiting for the next SC decision, the commission should refrain from making pronouncements about possible postponement of elections.
”The Comelec should abandon that kind of attitude that just because they did not get favorable decision, they will say there will be election. They have constitutional duty to hold the election,” Pimentel, a lawyer, said.
Pimentel believes that the Comelec has available time to change the configuration of the election machine to allow it to print the election ballots as ordered by the SC.
The senator has also allayed fears that the SC decision would require additional 10 hours to finish the voting process.
”May advice to the Comelec is bring back the voting period from 10 to 12 hours or from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. to accommodate all the voters,” Trillanes said.
Pimentel said 12 hours voting period is enough since Comelec has reduced the number of voters per precinct from 1,000 to 800 by increasing the cluster precincts to accommodate more voters.
He also advised the Comelec to indicate in its motion for reconsideration to the SC that it is impossible for them to comply with the high court decision requiring Comelec to print election ballot.
”But they should not assume that the motion for reconsideration will be granted. So they should be serious in preparation to comply with the (previous) SC ruling,” Pimentel said.
To save time, Pimentel suggested to the Comelec to assign other persons who will address the concerns on the printed ballots.
“If a voter has complaint about the printed ballot, he should step aside and go to another person to address the complaint so that the next voter can use the voting machine,” Pimentel explained.
Meanwhile, Senate President Franklin M. Drilon said that he will block any attempt to postpone the May 2016 elections.
“The Comelec cannot postpone on this ground based on existing laws. There should not even be talks about postponement. I will block any attempt to postpone the elections,” Drilon stressed.
The four-time Senate President said there is no legal basis for the Comelec to do so.
He explained that under the Omnibus Election Code, postponement may only be effected for “serious causes such as violence, terrorism, loss or destruction of election paraphernalia or records, force majeure, and other analogous causes of such nature that the holding of a free, orderly and honest election should become impossible in any political subdivision.”
Drilon echoed Pimentel’s advice to the Comelec to find way how to comply with the SC ruling.
Drilon said that the Comelec is mandated by no less than the Constitution to conduct, without fail, clean, orderly and credible elections in the country.
He concluded that Comelec will violate the Constitution if it fails to execute its mandate.
Drilon and Pimentel advised the Comelec to use the mass media to inform the public on what they should do to push through the automated election, the country’s third computerized since 2010. PNA/northboundasia.com