Pimentel: Comelec duty-bound to ensure elections happen on May 9
MANILA — “If there’s a will, there must be a way. Kaya nga sana, aral muna bago magsalita (Study first before speaking).”
In the recent Usapang Balita news forum at Serye restaurant with reporters on Thursday, Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, chairman of the Senate committee on electoral reform and people’s participation and the PDP-Laban president, criticized the Commission on Elections for considering the postponement or cancellation of the May 9 elections as a solution to technical and time-related issues arising from a recent Supreme Court ruling that ordered the poll body to issue vote receipts on May 9.
“It should not be a knee-jerk reaction. They have just heard SC’s 7-0 decision, then they will (suddenly) proclaim No-EL? I challenge Comelec to have a serious study first,” he added.
On March 8, the Supreme Court ordered the printing of election receipts to enable the vote verification feature of vote-counting machine in response to the petitions filed by Richard Gordon and Greco Belgica.
“We still have 60 days to fix the problem. “Do they (Comelec) want to be remembered in history as the batch who failed to conduct the elections?” Pimentel, asked, citing that the people should also help Comelec in making the elections possible.
Pimentel saw no need to “retrain” board election inspectors, and suggested the re-use of the “rusty” 200,000 ballot boxes, and procurement of paper for printing even without bidding.
The senator acknowledged the lack of paper for printed receipts as a legitimate concern but he insisted that the Comelec could still procure paper during the time left before the elections.
“Our national procurement laws have flexibility clause — specifically, if there is an emergency, no need for bidding,” Pimentel said.
“Isn’t the lack of nationwide election already an emergency, an urgent concern?” obviously, you are now exempted to the general rule, he added.
Pimentel added he could also not see the logic why the Comelec cited lack of time in opposing voter receipts when it has been poised to activate onscreen verification, which would take 30 seconds—apparently longer than the 10-15 seconds allotted time for printing receipts.
Pimentel said he would be amenable to thke printing of election receipts, for as long as they would be left at the polling precincts.that that he is amenable to printing the election receipts, so long as it will be left in the precinct stations.
Pimentel said the Comelec should bring back the earlier 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. schedule from the 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.schedule.
Comelec should also use the media to relay information and additional instructions such as voting early to decrease idle time, he told reporters.
“[But] the Comelec should be able to show the SC why it is impossible to comply, not difficult to comply,” he added.
Pimentel, frowning upon the proposals to go back to the manual system, said the Comelec should focus on how to comply with the automated election mandated by the law.
Pimentel added only the Congress, not the Comelec, could reset national and local elections. Specific precinct disruption on the election day itself is not allowed, only on the closest time possible, he added.