MANILA—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) believes that it is high time to revisit the country’s election laws.
Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista said there is a need to amendment several laws, including the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) and make it attuned to present circumstances.
“We want election laws that will be more reflective of the current situation, especially with regards to technology and on how technology has changed our election,” he said in a media forum in Manila.
Bautista noted that the rule on campaign spending limit needs to be updated.
“The campaign finance rules should be based on more realistic expenditures,” he said.
Under Republic Act 7166, candidates for President and Vice-President are allowed to spend PHP10 per registered voter while candidates for lower positions are allowed to shell out only PHP3 for every voter currently registered in the constituency where they are running.
While their political parties are allowed to spend PHP5 for every voter currently registered in the constituency or constituencies where it has official candidates; while independent candidates can spend PHP5 for every voter.
Likewise, Bautista opined that national and local polls should be conducted separately and the barangay polls should be held will the local elections.
“Why are our elections held in just one day? In other countries, it is held for several days,” he added.
The same law provides that there shall be simultaneous regular elections for national and local officials once every three years on the second Monday of May.
The poll body chief also wants some changes in the OEC, particularly in having one canvassing system that is compatible with the automated elections and do away with the present ladderized counting system.
“Maybe we can already do away with the ladderized canvassing system to ensure the coherence of its provisions with the automated election system. Why do we need to wait for the ladderized canvassing, which will still have to go through the municipal, city, provincial board of canvassers when we already know who are the winners in the national positions?” Bautista added.
Under the OEC, the Certificates of Canvass of votes for national positions will still have to be prepared by the lower levels of board of canvassers before they are transmitted to the national level.
Amendments on premature campaigning, is also being pushed by Bautista, to give power over would-be candidates.
Republic Act No. 9369 provides that “any person who files his certificate of candidacy (COC) shall only be considered as a candidate at the start of the campaign period” and that “unlawful acts applicable to a candidate shall be in effect only upon that start of the campaign period.”
He would also want senior citizens and persons with disability (PWDs) to be included in the Local Absentee Voting (LAV).
“Aside from our media men, military and the police, we should also allow in the LAV the elderly and PWDs in future elections,” Bautista said.
He noted the need to institutionalize the continuing voters’ education on the importance of elections, political institutions, and the accountability of elected officials.