Coming Election Will Be a Defining Moment for Nation

Article excerpt

Byline: MANUEL (Lolong) M. LAZARO President, Philippine Constitution Association

AN election to reflect true democratic tenets must be clean, credible, and honest. This is the quintessence of democracy. The unbridled freedom to choose the crA[umlaut]me de la crA[umlaut]me in the election without tangible and/or intangible considerations is the key. The leaders elected must be the unfettered and untainted choice of the majority. Those whose election is marred by lack of the hallmarks of a true election, or short of the yardstick required and expected in a democracy, are spurious. At best, they are interlopers, fakes, or parasites.

The coming elections will be a defining moment for the nation.

Clean, credible, and honest elections are the soul, the animating spirit of the democratic electoral process. The will and capacity to conduct such election is a national property of the highest value. It constitutes the very kernel of all that democracy signifies.

Lamentably, current surveys demonstrate that a substantial number fear and expect disorderly and dishonest elections. This ugly perception emanates from the insight that the last election was remarkable for being unremarkable. Unless singular measures are adopted to purge our election of the virus of foul practices, the country is doomed to suffer under a flawed and mediocre leadership.

With the elections just a few days away, the nagging fear of many, not to mention the sober concerns of other nations, is whether the people and nation are capable of conducting clean, credible, and honest elections. The fear stems from the lessons of the past.

The last election was a nasty episode. It left a carcass of doubts and uncertainties on the political will and capacity to conduct clean, credible, and honest elections. This is the tragedy that envelops the atmosphere. The major players and the machinery employed in the much-maligned and condemned election are substantially intact and active. The malpractices and shortcomings exposed have not been addressed. They remain unresolved. No credible and acceptable measures have been formulated.

The implementation of the party-list system, RA 7941, to give life to the constitutional advocacy of a party-list representative is not only dubious but confusing. There are so many party-lists, fighting to have their nominees become "cooked" representatives. The rationale of the partylist representative under the Constitution, in the words of a former chairman of the Comelec, is being "bastardized."

The reported 45 million registered voters out of the 86-million population is incredible. The badges of falsity or fantasy are cleverly masked. The number is statistically improbable. It defies belief or acceptance that for every two Filipinos, one is a voter. The report that the Comelec caused to be printed more than 5 million ballots in excess of the registered voters, evidently on the false assumption or expectation that 100 percent registered voters will vote, is highly suspicious.

We are unaware of any election when more than 85 percent of the registered voters voted. What then and for what purpose are the excess ballots for?

It is also reported that the electoral authorities have caused the printing of some documents needed in the election to a private printing company. This is equally disturbing. The printing of ballots, election returns, and Certificates of Canvass (COC), among others, is mandated by law to be done by the National Printing Office (NPO). …