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Within two months of the presidential election, the Philippines’ Independent Electoral Commission (COMELEC) was embroiled in controversy. It’s time to reform one of the oldest electoral commissions in the region.

The Philippines’ leading presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is pursuing a disqualification case before the General Elections Commission (COMELEC), foreshadowing a potential constitutional crisis if a final decision is not made before election day on May 9.

The Electoral Commission was embroiled in controversy in 1995 when groups, including former political prisoners, issued Marcos Jr.’s nomination papers. for tax evasion during the dictatorship. The Omnibus Electoral Code mentions certain types of penalties as grounds for disqualification. The special case of Marcos Jr. fall in the gray area. For the effective resolution of electoral disputes, the Commission has fifteen days to rule, with an immediate decision-making schedule that will safeguard the integrity of the electoral process.

Rowena Guanzon, one of the commissioners, retired in early February. Prior to his retirement, fellow commissioners accused him of delaying the commission’s decision in favor of Marcos Jr. so votes against Quanzon’s candidacy will not be counted. Guanzone accused his fellow commissioners of delaying the issuance of the ruling at the behest of a senator. Tao. Davao is a stronghold of President Rodrigo Duterte, and several key government appointments have been given to his colleagues in Davaoeños.

The public exchange of the Commission’s internal adjudication function was unprecedented. While disagreements among election commissioners are not uncommon, there is always an effort to work with the federation and come out with a united attitude as a judicial agent in resolving any election disputes.

COMELEC’s judicial duties are related to its election administration duties. The electoral process is important for timing and forecasting the process and ultimately for political stability. Therefore, election disputes require an immediate solution and if the parties are not satisfied they have the option of seeking timely resolution in the Supreme Court before the election. Go Grace for 2016 election.

COMELEC has been widely accused of having customer relationships with an election commissioner and a senator. If the reason behind the postponement of Marcos Jr.’s dismissal case. is the silence of the voice and opinion of a senior commissioner of COMELEC (Quanson), it reveals a rift in the electoral system.

COMELEC in the sequel

The episode above reveals the COMELEC sequel. This Independent Election Commission continues to experience weaknesses and institutional problems such as customers and capacity. As a result, elections in the Philippines became impossible. COMELEC is a constitutional body designed to be more autonomous than other government agencies. His full position, consisting of seven commissioners, is appointed by the President and has a term of office of seven years. COMELEC’s mandate is to administer elections and resolve all disputes arising from the electoral process. He is not only a spectator of the machinations of politicians and dominant actors, but also has power over all matters relating to the electoral process and its administration.

At the start of the 2022 election cycle, filing for nomination certificates had a limited number of candidates allotted, effectively mocking election rules. When political parties use legislative candidates, different powers with political and economic interests can still unite. It’s a time-consuming strategy to build candidate names, negotiate alliances, and create a strategic political smokescreen. The Electoral Commission may have issued a formal statement advising a political party with a view to revealing its powers and sending a stern warning to stop this practice.

The electoral system is not only a spectator to the machinations of politicians and dominant actors. Instead, they must be empowered in all matters relating to the electoral process and its administration.

It is time to explore possible reforms in the Philippine electoral system. A possible area of ​​reform is the termination of the Commission’s administration and adjudication duties. This will create a more effective Electoral Commission. As administrators, election administration professionals may work with electoral law experts (jurists) with limited responsibilities within the Commission. In other countries, the electoral management system has a verification framework. Absence of real political parties in the Philippines and increasing ‘party anarchy’ (reference Their low level of institutionalization and increased fragmentation), the burden of screening candidates should not be left to the voters alone.

The second part of the reform is the participatory verification process. By law, COMELEC accepts self-report from the Certificate of Nomination (COC) as true and valid. As part of the regulatory process, the Commission may issue a COC for public scrutiny, in conjunction with a campaign to encourage voters to do so.

Third, promises are important. Due to the nature of elections, impartiality shapes the integrity of elections, which is even more important in a politically polarized environment, and political skepticism will encourage unconstitutional acts such as the riots by Trump supporters at the US Capitol in early 2021. The mere perception of discrimination or fraud can create political instability and undermine the credibility of the electoral process.

COMELEC is one of the oldest electoral commissions in the region. However, this seems to be impartial. It is guided by a commissioner appointed by President Duterte, who has close ties to him and his allies. A charter change is needed to change the current appointment structure in favor of the executive. Models in other countries include general appointments for commissioners and accountability mechanisms with oversight functions.

COMELEC has a mandate to lead the electoral process with honesty and credibility. However, for this to be true, the pace of reform within the Commission must increase. Reforms should include administrative reforms that do not require constitutional changes, appointment structures that require reform through constitutional changes and legislative action.

To meet the expectations of a modern electoral system, the KPU needs to update the 1985 Omnibus Election Code. The Electoral Code is older than the Constitution and was created when COMELEC was widely recognized as discriminatory and supportive of the Marcos dictatorship. Improving the quality of elections in the Philippines means having an Electoral Commission that can effectively regulate the competition between those seeking power and equalize the more expensive constituencies for only a select few.


Ken Robbins

"Bacon nerd. Future teen idol. Zombie aficionado. Troublemaker. Travel buff. Award-winning reader."

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