Comelec, lawyers link up for polls
THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) on Monday formalized its tie-up with the Integrated Bar of Philippines (IBP) and the Philippine Association of Law Schools (PALS) for the establishment of legal assistance desks in the more than 36,000 voting centers nationwide.
Comelec Chair Andres Bautista said the memorandum of agreement was part of the objectives of the Comelec to ensure credible and honest elections on May 9 and to enhance the voting experience of Filipinos.
“This endeavor is similar to the medical assistance desks,” Bautista told reporters, referring to its earlier agreement with the Department of Health, which will set up health stations in 2,000 precincts nationwide.
He said it was important that lawyers were accessible on election day to help voters with legal queries or concerns and guide them through the process of filing a complaint or an objection.
Most of the issues confronting voters on election day concern delisting, said Bautista.
Under the agreement, IBP’s local chapters will set up one legal assistance desk in each voting center on May 9 manned by at least one qualified lawyer assisted by law students.
“Legal assistance desks may coordinate and consolidate their activities with the Comelec field personnel, accredited citizens’ arms and other volunteer groups,” said Bautista.
The scope of assistance to be provided by the IBP and PALS include answering legal queries and provision of informed legal opinions regarding voters’ rights and remedies, and drafting and notarization of complaints, affidavits and other election-related legal documents.