Comelec: Pol bets to sign ‘Integrity Pledge’
Each candidate in the May 2016 elections will be asked by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to sign the “Integrity Pledge” when they file their certificates of candidacy (COCs) next week.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez explained that the Integrity Pledge is not a requirement in the COC filing “but we believe that it adds something to the credibility of the elections.”
“We think that it elevates the level of participation not just of the voters… We always say that the people must be mature, principled voters. But there must be a corresponding responsibility on the side of the people running for office and we think this Integrity Pledge will be a good catalyst to bring that out,” he said.
According to Jimenez, candidates in all positions, regardless of level, will be requested to sign the pledge.
“The Comelec will also be sending copies of the Integrity Pledge to our local offices for local bets to sign,” he said.
The Integrity Pledge, first initiated by the Comelec, will be signed by the candidates at the poll body’s main office in Intramuros in a form of a Freedom Wall.
The Integrity Pledge reads in part: “I sign this Integrity Pledge for free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections, and through my words and actions, commit to abide by the tenets of our Constitution, election laws, rules and regulations, respecting the sanctity of our electoral exercise. I will not employ any form of violence, force, or threat that may impair, impede, or unduly influence the free exercise of the people’s right of suffrage. I will ensure the prompt and accurate, reporting and disclosure of campaign-related expenses, I will not offer or give bribes or gifts to corrupt the integrity of our democratic process…”
Jimenez said that while the Integrity Pledge will not hold any legal accountability for candidates, what would be at stake is more than any fines and penalties.
“This is not a legal document. It creates no legal obligation per se. But, I think, more importantly, if the candidate subscribes, if the candidate says he believes in this, then it creates a moral bond between the candidate and the electorate, and I think, in a lot of cases, that can be equally powerful,” said Jimenez.
Meanwhile, the poll body on Friday said it will strictly implement the three-companion rule for the candidates who will be filing their COCs at its main office in Intramuros, Manila, starting Sunday.
“We would only allow three companions per candidate. We will have to enforce that,” Jimenez said, explaining that it was aimed at expediting the COC filing process while maintaining order.
Jimenez said the rule would apply to all candidates regardless of their positions.
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