IT IS election season once again and candidates aspiring for official seats in both local and national leadership are observed drumming their electoral campaign strategies left and right. Said to be the favorite pastime of politicians, the country’s electoral exercise is likened to a fever as it can lead to a downfall to the loser and recovery of investment to the victor.
To aspirants, an election exercise can serve as a platform to offer a bid for public service, however it can also mean exposures to all possible threats including death as seen in past elections. While I anticipate the third movie in a trilogy by Artikulo Uno Productions about the rise of Manuel L. Quezon to power after the deaths of Generals Antonio Luna and Gregorio Del Pilar, I have yet to find out if our present electoral processes traces its roots from the historic Tejeros Convention. History tells us that the meeting of the Katipunan in Cavite on March 22, 1897 between the Magdiwang and Magdalo factions resulted to the first presidential and vice presidential elections in Philippines.
In that convention, it was said that only the Katipuneros or members of the Katipunan were able to take part and not the general populace. Accordingly, the Tejeros convention only worsened the rivalry between the two factions of the Katipunan as it was originally meant to form a central revolutionary government that would unite the two councils. General Emilio Aguinaldo was elected president of the new revolutionary government and the rest is history.
The Commission on Elections was created by a 1940 amendment to the 1935 Constitution. The Comelec is now the principal government agency tasked to enforce and administer all laws and regulations concerning the conduct of regular and special elections. Exercising fiscal autonomy to operate effectively, efficiently and free from political interference as mandated, the Commission holds regular and special elections, plebiscites, initiatives, referenda, and implement recalls.
So who are eligible to vote? According to my source at www.comelec.gov.ph, a resident of the Philippines of at least eighteen years of age and at least one year in the place wherein he/she proposes to vote, for at least six (6) months immediately preceding the elections is eligible.
For Persons with Disabilities and Indigenous Cultural Communities or Indigenous Peoples', a satellite registration in areas where there are PWD and ICCs/IPs registrants shall be conducted with the concerned Non-Government Organization networks empowering PWDs and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) or its affiliate organization/s existing in their locality for the said activity.
On the basis of a 2016 Promulgation of a Republic Act entitled: “An Act Providing for a System of Overseas Absentee Voting by Qualified Citizens of the Philippines Abroad, Appropriating Funds therefore and for other purposes" it provides that the Commission extends the continuing registration to qualified overseas voters. Said promulgation states that all citizens of the Philippines, who are abroad or will be abroad during the thirty (30) day voting period, at least eighteen (18) years of age on the day of the elections and not otherwise disqualified by law, may register and vote in what is known as “absentee voting.”
Those who have lost their Filipino citizenship in accordance with Philippine laws and those who have expressly renounced their Philippine citizenship or who have pledged allegiance to a foreign country shall be disqualified from registering.
For one who has covered elections in the past, I suggest that voters proceed to their respective polling places early and first check their listed names in their assigned precincts. It is best to write down the name of the building and precinct number where they are listed and queue as soon as they ascertained that their names appear on the posted names of voters. It is also important that voters bring identifying documents like work or voter’s IDs. As a longtime newsman who used to cover remote field works, I often anticipate scenarios where I get to wait for hours hence a bottled water or juice and crackers in my pocket keeps me from starving. For those who would stay as volunteer observers for the counting and tabulation of ballots, a handy LED flashlight and back-up power bank is also a must. The COMELEC will issue press cards to legitimate reporters who are allowed to observe and cover but not intrude or cause disruptions in any of the election procedures. Should there be suspicious looking persons displaying a press card without the Comelec pass, please report them immediately to the nearest Election Officer or a nearby law enforcement officer as these individuals may have other intents other that covering the election exercises.