You can be DQd, CHR warns rights violators
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday warned would-be candidates that committing human rights violations related to their candidacies could get them disqualified from the May 2016 polls.
Comelec Commissioner Luie Guia said human rights violations in the context of elections could result in the disqualification of candidates.
“If it’s terrorism, threat or intimidation and the Comelec finds them guilty administratively, they could be disqualified. If they are caught getting involved in such act, they can be disqualified from continuing as a candidate,” said Guia on the sidelines of the launching of Bantay Karapatan sa Halalan coalition.
He said the disqualification of candidates, even those elected, was possible as long as the complaints were filed before their proclamation.
‘Heat of the moment’
“As long as the petition is filed before the proclamation, then the case will go on. The administrative aspect will go on,” said Guia.
He noted that there had been instances when the Comelec disqualified candidates due to human rights violations related to elections.
Guia, however, lamented that there were many other cases when complaints of human rights violations were made in the “heat of the moment.”
“There have been complaints before. But the complaints are usually raised in the context during the elections … If the elections are over, no one supports the witnesss and they back out,” Guia said.
This is where institutional support plays an integral role in making sure that violations and subsequent complaints are pursued, he said.
“We will welcome institutional support in prosecuting and investigating violations of election laws. We will assume that the paperwork will be better, and the evidence will be better prepared and it will be easier for us to make the decision,” Guia said.
For his part, Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chair Jose Luis Martin Gascon said the coalition vowed to help those who would be victims of human rights violations in the context of elections.
He said the CHR would enlist the support of about 10,000 volunteers from different member-organizations of the coalition to help document such human rights violations.
As far as the poll watch group Lente (Legal Network for Truthful Elections) is concerned, vote-buying has surpassed election violence in terms of corrupting the results of the electoral exercise.
Lawyer Rona Caritos, executive director of Lente, said the cheapest votes now cost at least P1,000. It could go as high as P15,000 in areas considered “hotspots.”
“There’s no more P500 today,” she said referring to the previous price placed for each vote.
Lente noticed this trend after the automation of polls in the country.
Caritos said Lente had gone around the country and noticed that because automation had reduced the chances of electoral violence, groups who wanted to rig the poll results had targeted the voter’s more vulnerable part: his pocket.
She said vote-buying in the provinces remain rampant, directly affecting poll results. This was alarming, said Caritos, because it meant the elections had turned into a battle of the moneyed.
“Lente sees that as a worsening [election-related problem] and it affects the results of the elections because it means that whoever has the money wins. But that’s not the will of the people,” she said.
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