THREE DAYS before the conduct of the 2019 midterm National and Local Elections, Malacañang vehemently warned Friday, May 10, that it would not take sides and all individuals found to have violated election rules, regardless of political affiliation, will face prosecution.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo assured the public that the Palace would not side with any poll violators.
"Concerns and apprehensions have been raised by various quarters relative to the conduct of the coming elections. The President has put in place measures designed to determine if cheating has been committed in the polls. We are thus issuing a stern warning to those who have sinister plans and evil machinations of thwarting the will of the electorate to abandon them," he said.
"Any violator will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. No one will be spared regardless of their political affiliation or station in life," he added.
Under Section 261 of the Omnibus Election Code, acts considered as election offenses include vote-buying, any forms of coercion, undue influence, and unlawful electioneering, among others.
Panelo said the executive department was optimistic that voters and 2019 poll candidates would observe "honest, orderly, peaceful and credible elections."
He said the practice of the "sacred" right to vote is the "strongest form of action an individual can perform in a democratic society," stressing that the conduct of this year's elections is the only time that "the rich and poor alike, as well as the powerful and the weak, will have equal value in the weighing scale as regards their vote."
The Palace official added that any hindrance or manipulation of the right to vote was a "lethal attack against the very heart of our country's democracy."
"We enjoin all Filipinos who are eligible to vote to participate in this healthy democratic exercise as we call on all candidates across the political spectrum to ask their supporters to observe an honest, orderly, peaceful and credible elections reflective of the people’s genuine will," he said.
"We wish the candidates all the best. This is the time to show our Filipino bayanihan spirit in ensuring that the elections will be held without any major glitches and will reflect the true desires of the Filipino people," Panelo added.
Panelo also urged the Commission on Elections to fulfill its constitutional duty as the "sentinel of the elections" in ensuring the integrity of the ballots.
He cautioned that any form of cheating committed by the electoral body's personnel or contractor Smartmatic would not to be tolerated by the current administration. (SunStar Philippines)