Election season starts: Bets can have fun but …
IT’S OK to have fun, but keep it solemn and orderly please.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) gave this reminder to people who will be trooping to its offices in Metro Manila and in the provinces starting today to file their certificates of candidacy (COCs) for the national balloting on May 9 next year.
Comelec Chair Andres Bautista said candidates could have fun but they should ensure that all the documents they would submit had been filled out and notarized to avoid delays and trouble during the process.
“We want it orderly and solemn but at the same time also fun. To me, you know, it’s a happy occasion [because] it celebrates our democracy,” Bautista told reporters in an interview on Saturday.
Political season starts
Candidates have until Oct. 16 to register as candidates in the 2016 elections. While the campaign does not officially start until February—90 days before Election Day—today marks the official start of the political season.
Aside from the presidency and vice presidency, at stake in the elections are 12 seats in the Senate, 293 seats in the House of Representatives, 81 gubernatorial and 81 vice gubernatorial posts; 772 provincial board seats; 144 city mayoral and 144 city vice mayoral posts; 1,490 municipal mayoral and 1,490 vice mayoral posts, and 11,924 town council seats; one gubernatorial and one vice gubernatorial posts, and 24 seats in the regional assembly of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Giving his last-minute reminders to the candidates, Bautista said candidates should make sure that all necessary attachments had been affixed to the main documents, including photos and certificates of nomination and acceptance if chosen by a political party.
“The forms can be downloaded from the Comelec website. So, fill them out already before coming to the Comelec,” he said.
Up to 3 companions
For the first time, the election body will be limiting to three the number of persons accompanying candidates when they go to the Comelec’s main office in Intramuros, Manila, to file their COCs.
Two video monitors will be set up outside the building for those who cannot be accommodated inside the office.
Candidates will be asked to sign an “integrity pledge” on a Freedom Wall for a peaceful, honest and credible elections.
Election Commissioner Luie Guia appealed to candidates to dispense with the fiesta atmosphere and put more solemnity to the entire process.
“Consider the filing of COCs a sacred process in a sense that you are putting yourselves before the people and presenting yourselves as someone capable of leading the country,” Guia told reporters in a separate interview.
“Rather than making it like a fiesta, it will be good if the process of the filing of your COC will be solemn, sacred and dignified,” he added.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ Episcopal Commission on Public Affairs (CBCP-Ecpa) urged candidates to be reminded not of the “perks and grandeur” they could acquire should they win, but of the poor pinning their hopes on them.
“The candidates must be willing to sacrifice their personal interests for the sake of those who have nothing in life,” said Fr. Jerome Secillano, executive secretary of the CBCP-Ecpa.
“I pray that they may be guided in their pursuit of the common good as they shun the temptation to merely work for their personal good,” he added.
As the filing of COCs begins, the Philippine National Police will provide security at Comelec offices.
“There will be policemen providing security and order in the venues where the filing [of COCs] will be held, in addition to our regular law enforcement functions,” PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor said on Sunday.
The command will also pull out officers assigned as security detail to candidates.
Mayor said the Comelec would issue a resolution on the withdrawal of security detail. The PNP is under Comelec’s operational control during the election season.
“There is a period during which candidates cannot have policemen assigned to them. They can apply for exemption with the Comelec depending on the threat assessment,” Mayor said.
He added that the 160,000-strong PNP was constantly reminded of its duty to serve and to protect, and to remain nonpartisan in the upcoming elections. With a report from Julie M. Aurelio
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