IF the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is really serious in implementing election laws, it should also refrain from entertaining proposals that do not have basis in law, Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd said on Friday.
Pimentel, chairman of the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation, was referring to the proposal to allow mall-based voting for the May 2016 elections that the senator said has no legal basis.
“Voting must be done in voting centers, which are public property, not private property that are subject to the regulations of the owners,” he pointed out.
Pimentel cited the position of the Comelec on premature campaigning that it cannot go after candidates engaged in such activity because it is no longer considered a violation based on a recent ruling of the Supreme Court.
The Comelec said a candidate can only be cited for illegal campaigning during the campaign period, meaning a candidate can do anything he or she wants outside the campaign period.
Pimentel said while it is good to know that the poll body is conscious ofthe law, it should also be consistent in its position and reject proposals that do not have legal basis.
“There is no law authorizing mall voting, so the Comelec must abandon that plan. The poll body is not allowed to choose which of the proposals are acceptable and which are not because there is already a law and the Comelec only needs to follow it,” he added.
The senator said efforts of the Comelec in preparing for the mall-based voting is a waste of time because the number of voters that would benefit from the proposal is less than three percent of the total registered voters in the country.
The Comelec earlier said the proposed mall voting will benefit as many as five million voters in the country.
But Pimentel noted that the poll body is now saying it is expecting some 500,000 to 700,000 voters to benefit from it.
“Follow the law in the establishment of voting centers and, according to the law, public property should be priority,” he said.
One important reason why the Comelec is considering mall voting is that the poll body will not spend a single centavo because the mall owners are offering their facilities for free.
The Comelec will also have full control and supervision of mall voting areas and will deputize mall security personnel to augment mall security with policemen and soldiers.