In this PCIJ roundtable held on July 21, 2022, election watchdog groups discuss electoral reforms for the next national and local elections in 2025.
"Starting the reform effort as early as now is a good first step. But there has to be more discussions like this [among civil society groups] because what we really need is a strong consensus on what we want to push,'" said former Comelec Commissioner Luie Tito Guia.
Guia was joined by Lente Executive Director Rona Ann Caritos, Namfrel Operations Specialist Paolo Maligaya, PPCRV National Trustee Arwin Serrano and Manila Coordinator Wilson Chua.
Former Comelec Commissioner Luie Tito Guia:
“Starting the reform effort as early as now is a good first step. But there has to be more discussions like this [among civil society groups] because what we really need is a strong consensus on what we want to push.”
PPCRV National Trustee Arwin Serrano:
“We would like to recommend to Comelec that they start early the procurement process, including the formulation of the TOR [for] vote counting machines that we’re going to use in 2025.”
“We also would not want the Barangay and SK elections to be postponed or to be reset. We want to finish that this year so that starting next year, we can focus on 2025 preparations.”
NAMFREL Operations Specialist Paolo Maligaya:
“[There’s a need to] look for a more transparent way of counting votes such as the so-called hybrid system, which would involve manual counting at the polling places and electronic transmission of the results.”“Kung ang vote buying ay illegal, then why not just treat it as an illegal thing. Just like kapag may nahuli silang droga.”
“The legislature should amend the definition of a candidate for purposes of penalizing pre- election campaigning.”
LENTE Executive Director Rona Ann Caritos:
“The number one priority we have always identified every Congress is to have a new Omnibus Election Code. Our Omnibus Election Code is older than our 1987 Constitution. But it’s hard [for Congress] to focus on such a big document. There is a need to identify individual amendments and revisions.”
“Why not introduce an anti-dynasty provision in the Party List Act to reduce the relatives of political families and political dynasties to use that system as another way to gain a seat in Congress.”
“There is really an urgent need to increase spending limits to make the disclosure of our candidates and political parties to be more truthful. We all know that the SOCEs [they file] are not that truthful. Let’s all be honest and frank about their submissions.”
“What we saw during this pandemic is how unresponsive our voter registration legal framework is. Everything is going online but we [still] need to go to our election officers [and line up]. I think we should make use of technology to make [the process] more inclusive and accessible.”
PCIJ Training Director Rowena Paraan:
“One of the reforms that should happen is the improvement of access to information, not just by journalists but even by ordinary citizens, na gusto malaman what is happening in their [localities].... One of the ways we tried to achieved this was to push for the passage of Freedom of Information law.”
TOP PHOTO by Sharra Elep/PCIJ