Gangster squad-A A +A
One Small Voice
Thursday, January 31, 2013
THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) cannot perform all of its functions all of the time. This is not a biased opinion. This is the truth. This is not a calculated guess. This is a fact. This is not an attack meant to demean or to damage or to destroy. This is acknowledged, at the very least, by the law.
The poll body needs, and deserves, all the help that it can get. Whatever stories of schemes and scams, bribery and corruption, and cheating both manual and automated, we still have only one poll body whose success is ours and whose failures are likewise ours. Therefore, it is not bad, and it is actually good, to help it. Anyway, it is not only necessary and beneficial, it is also allowed by the law.
The rules of procedures of the poll body allow it to accredit a citizens' arm that could be any bona fide non-partisan group, association or organization from the civic, youth, professional, educational, business or labor sectors with identifiable leadership, membership and structure, and with demonstrated capacity to promote the public interest and assist the poll body in the performance of its functions.
At present, three different groups have already been accredited by the poll body. These are: the National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel); Philippine Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) which is a Catholic group; and One Vote, a coalition of mostly religious organizations from various Protestant denominations and including in its coalition the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) and the Citizen's Crime Watch (CCW).
As an accredited citizens' arm, each of these three groups are expected to assist in the information dissemination campaign, conduct poll watching in precincts, and provide assistance to voters on election day.
The following privileges are also extended to them: first, obtain copies of the official voters list and project of precincts; second, witness the examination and testing of the equipments to be used in the casting and counting of votes; and third, receive copies of the election results to be printed by the poll machines before and after the electronic transmission. These, indeed, are privileges, considering that not just anybody can just take a peep at just all these information.
It is, however, important to note that these citizens' arms can actually do a whole lot more, considering that their combined membership could reach hundreds of thousands or even a couple of millions, and considering that their combined membership can be found in every nook and cranny of the country.
They can monitor, and report, violations of election laws, rules and regulations, especially on campaign materials, that are just anywhere and everywhere, as in anywhere, as in everywhere.
They can monitor, and report, violations of election laws, rules and regulations, especially on campaign finance, where money comes and money goes and money comes and money goes and money comes and money goes but nobody sees anything, as in no record of anything coming in, as in no record of anything going out, as in no record at all, period.
They can monitor, and report, violations of election laws, rules and regulations, especially on the different ways of conducting vote-buying, especially on the many creative and imaginative tactics and techniques of the invention that is legalized vote-buying, which is vote-buying still, but is legal as legal can be.
They can monitor, and report, violations of election laws, rules and regulations, especially on peace and order, or violence, and anything else that threatens the votes or the voters.
They can do many more, in partnership with the poll body and the law enforcement bodies, aside from just information dissemination and watching this and that and receiving this and that. They can work on the conduct of the campaign and the conduct of the election, not just its results. They can be guard dogs, rather than just watchdogs. They can be active participants, not just passive observers. They can be the gangster squad.
Comments are most welcome. Please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 01, 2013.