TWO officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) are vehemently opposing the plan to revive the Commissioner-in-Charge (CIC) system in the 2016 synchronized elections, saying it may lead to widespread electoral fraud.
The CIC system was implemented during the time of former Chairman Benjamin Abalos. Under the system, a Comelec commissioner is assigned a specific administrative region during elections and he or she has the power to decide on all election-related issues in his or her jurisdiction.
The CIC can transfer the venue of the tabulation of votes, place areas under Comelec control and head a task force that shall implement Comelec control over local government units concerned. He or she can also act on requests or applications for transfer or reassignment of field officials and employees.
The proposal to resurrect this scheme is being questioned by Commissioner Christian Robert Lim and Bicol Regional Director Romeo Fortes. The two officials believe that the move will spawn poll irregularities similar to the infamous “Hello, Garci” scandal during the 2004 presidential elections.
The “Hello, Garci” scandal broke out in 2005 after audiotapes of the alleged conversation between President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano surfaced. In the taped conversation, a woman believed to be Arroyo was reminding a certain “Garci” about the addition of votes to administration candidates. Some people believe that Fernando Poe Jr. would have won the presidential race if not for the alleged dagdag-bawas (vote adding and shaving) fraud perpetrated by administration allies.
“The justification that the CIC system expedites and facilitates Comelec actions is just a subterfuge for political control, especially during election period,” Fortes said.
Lim, on the other hand, said he will “vehemently oppose” the assignment of CICs in the regions, citing the absence of “basis or justification for it to be seriously considered” by the Comelec.
He said no study had been done to determine the advantages of the CIC system.
“Reverting to the CIC system opens the door to a manipulation of the 2016 national and local elections not only at the regional, but more so, the national level,” Lim warned.
He said the proposal was “a needless and pointless redundancy” because assigning a CIC to the regions duplicates the tasks of Comelec Field Operations Group.
He added that even foreign poll observers criticized the CIC system. The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), a group based in Washington D.C., said the CIC system was “inefficient and ineffective.”
The IFES sent teams to observe the 2004 elections.