“The Comelec faces numerous challenges.”
With less than two months to go, preparations for the 2022 national and local elections are still under way. This week, the Commission on Elections gave us a glimpse through its walk-through of the printing of the ballots and deployment of the vote-counting machines in the National Printing Office and its warehouse in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. This took place in response to the call of various election observers for transparency over the entire election process, as mandated by the law.
Election watchdogs have earlier decried the lack of transparency and the refusal of the Comelec to allow observers during the printing of the ballots. The agency, however, attributed this to the risks of the pandemic and strict protocols implemented at the time of printing. The new officials of the Comelec gave their assurance that protocols will be re-evaluated to allow public monitoring of the remaining election preparations.
While 73.7 percent of the official ballots have already been printed, there is still much to be done. As with any other election, the Comelec evidently bears a heavy burden as it performs its duty to ensure fair and transparent conduct of elections. At the same time, the agency has been frequently on the receiving end of various controversies that mar its integrity.
While I believe that the agency remains faithful to its mandate, I call upon the commissioners to ensure proper discharge of their duties in accordance with our election laws. This coming election, as I mentioned before, is crucial to the recovery of the country against COVID-19.
More than ever, Filipinos would want to be assured of the sanctity of their ballots. Now that the country is under a lenient alert level, I am confident that Comelec will have no impediments to maintaining transparency.
In our lifetime, this is our first election under a pandemic. Our current situation inevitably demands more from the agency compared to previous elections. Apart from complying with the usual safeguards provided for by law, Comelec is also met with the challenge of protecting voters from the spread of the virus.
Ultimately, we need to ensure that the Comelec is capable and competent to conduct safe and credible elections. As citizens, we are entitled to the holding of free, orderly, honest, peaceful, fair, and transparent elections.
I call on the national government to extend its assistance to the commission as much as it is needed. I ask the executive department as well as the local governments to give the necessary support to Comelec to ensure that the election will be held in the most organized way possible. With a well-prepared poll body, we can be assured of smooth and secure elections on May 9.