CAMP DANGWA, La Trinidad, Benguet: The Cordillera office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec-CAR) predicted that despite the conduct of the most peaceful elections in the region in the May 2013 mid-term polls, various election problems will be recurring once concerned stakeholders go remiss in doing their respective duties and responsibilities, especially in maintaining peace nationwide.
Jose Nick Mendros, Comelec-CAR regional director, said that there is a big possibility that rampant election-related violence and vote buying among others could recur in future elections, thus, the need for continuous vigilance among election stakeholders.
“As we move forward, let us not forget that the challenges we have overcome during the elections may very well be present again in the next few elections. The steps we have taken, the steps you have taken, while unprecedented, requires to be sustained in order for the culture of peace and order to be truly ingrained in the minds of stakeholders. Thus, we are once again faced with the challenge that the voters be empowered and the candidates be educated in the true value and meaning of the right to vote,” Mendros stressed.
He commended the Police Regional Office (PRO) in the Cordillera led by Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and their partners for being able to sustain efforts in the conduct of the most peaceful elections throughout the region, especially in the provinces of Abra and Kalinga, which at the start of the election period were already under the watchlist of the poll body.
He added that, “The people should be taught to hold the candidates accountable for all their actions and activities undertaken to promote their candidacies. Focus on election laws and rules violations should be shifted from the fact that Comelec, the PNP and the AFP could not successfully apprehend and prosecute violators to the fact that the candidates and their supporters failed to follow the laws and rules and somehow should not be elected to the office they are aspiring for.
“We should not allow US to be used as scapegoat and convenient blame absorbers for the losing candidates,” Magalong said.
According to him, the May 13, national, local and ARMM regional elections is a case study of this challenge. Comelec gets the blame for the problems on vote-buying, “epal,” terrorism and intimidation of voters, election related violence. The public mind framed by negative media reporting conveniently forgets that there would be no vote buying if the candidates themselves will not engage in it; there will be no “epal” if the candidates and their supporters will honestly follow the provisions of Republic Act 9007 and other elections laws on campaigning; there will be no ERVIs if the candidates and their supporters will give higher value to life.
“I have no doubts that this could be done. We simply need people who are dedicated and committed in our respective fields of assignment. We just need dynamic and innovative leadership as shown by Dir. Benjamin Magalong. We just need public servants like you, willing to commit ourselves to the never ending task of insuring peace and order in your respective places of assignment,” Mendros explained.
Thom F. Picaña