Committed to fair, honest elections

HIS commitment for a fair and clean elections led to the successful conduct of the barangay polls last October 28 in Davao Region.

True to his promise, Commission on Elections (Comelec) 11 acting regional election director lawyer Tomas S. Valera poured in so much time and relentless efforts to ensure a peaceful political exercise in the region.

Valera, in an interview with Sun.Star Davao, said he follows the basic principle that any Comelec official should pursue in holding elections and that is to be fair and neutral.

"Yung panalo, panalo. Wag na gawing talo, (Those who won, truly won. They shouldn't be declared losers.)" Valera said.

He supported this statement by citing that when the winners are declared, they often received too many comnplaints from the losing bets yet when asked to submit formal complaints, they weren't able to do so.

But apart from being fair, Valera said that as a public servant, he gives due attention to those who are in need of his expertise.

"I always give attention to the inquiries of those involved in the elections no matter how small the inquiry is. It is because the information that I provide would urge them to follow the election rules and regulations. This would then lead to lesser election offense." Valera said.

The success of the election may also be attributed to his experience as he has been serving Comelec for 25 years now.

His first stint was in Comelec-Aklan in 1988. He was later appointed provincial election supervisor in Antique in 1995 and two years later, he became the assistant regional director for IloIlo.

In 1997, Valera was assigned to conduct special elections in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (Armm). In 2005, Valera was the assistant regional director in Comelec 6 and assistant regional director for Comelec 9 in the latest national elections last May.

Valera admitted that his assignment in Armm was among his toughest challenges yet. He cited that he had to take extra precaution in facilitating the elections in the area as the region was plagued by lawless armed groups and a standoff between these groups and military could break out anytime.

"We visited this one barangay that had a barricade established by armed groups. I was accompanied by the military that is why I was fearing that a shootout would happen. But what I did was I courteously asked the group to let me in as I was just there to collect the ballot boxes from a polling precinct. Fortunately, they let me in and I was able to meet with the teacher who seemed to have no problem hanging out with the armed groups. The teacher then surrendered the ballot boxes and we fled the area. That was when I realized that democracy still has a chance in this country," Valera narrated.

Prior to his career with Comelec, the native of Barotac Nuevo in Iloilo earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science major in English degree at the Central Philippine University in 1979 and in 1985, he acquired his Bachelor of Laws at the Ateneo de Manila University and passed the Bar Exams on the same year.

Last September, he got his master's degree at National Security Administration at the National Defense College of the Philippines.
He is happily married to Imelda Braganza and they have three children, namely Pascal, Salvador and Ysolde.
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