A Move Towards Improving The Philippine Electoral System

Century Park Hotel, Manila, December 10, 2022 - The Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) gathered various election stakeholders at Century Park Hotel, Manila during its MOVE! A Colloquium on Electoral Reforms from December 8-10, 2022 to revisit longstanding and emerging electoral issues, and discuss possible solutions for such.

True to its event title, which also reflects its theme, "Maximizing Opportunities and Valuing Elections through Electoral Reforms", LENTE and the participants coming from different sectors and fields such as the government, academe, media, church, and civil society organizations, collaboratively identified the challenges, possible solutions, and opportunities for electoral reform in the short-term and medium-term.

Atty. Christian S. Monsod, Founder and Honorary Chairman of LENTE, and one of the framers of the 1987 Constitution opened the event by highlighting the purpose of electoral reforms, stating: "What is the purpose of these electoral reforms? Because if our elections is not the authentic expression of our people's sovereignty then we cannot fulfill the promise of EDSA of a new social order, about addressing the mass poverty and gross inequalities that are rooted in a feudalistic system of dynastic families that has been impervious to change for generations. And its companion evil - corruption. With the concentration of power and wealth in a few we are in the grip of the iron law of oligarchy and we know this must change."

The areas for electoral reform discussed during the colloquium are the following:
a) Election Management and Good Governance
b) Electoral Adjudication
c) Political Parties, Campaign Finance, Disinformation and Influence Operations
d) Inclusive Elections: Human Rights and Political Participation, and
e) Electoral System: Presidential, Parliamentary, Federal System (Beyond the Present: Looking for an Ideal Electoral System).

During the event, Rep. Maximo Dalog Jr., Chairperson of the Committee on Suffrage And Electoral Reforms, bared his priority legislations, which include the following:
1) COMELEC Integrity Bill,
2) Early Voting for Senior Citizens, PWDs, Lawyers, and Human Resources for Health
3) Political Party Development Act,
4) Increasing Authorized Election Campaign Expense,
5) Amendments to the Voter's Registration Act (RA 8189),
6) Accessible Polling Places for Senior Citizens and PWDs, and
7) COMELEC Reorganization.

On the other hand, Commission on Elections Chairperson George Erwin Garcia also presented his priority legislative reforms: i) Revision of Section 15 of R.A. No. 8436 as amended by Section 13 of R.A. No. 9369, particularly on the aspirant becoming a candidate, and the applicability of prohibited acts on candidates (premature campaigning) not only during the campaign period, but from the date of the filing of the Certificate of Candidacy, strengthening for this purpose Section 5 of R.A. No. 7166, ii) Proposal for Early Voting for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), Senior Citizens (SCs) and Pregnant Women, amending for this purpose R.A. No. 7166, iii) Modernization of Section 3 of R.A. No. 9006 "Fair Elections Act", specifically on the lawful election propaganda, iv) enhancing the law on the Election Offense of Vote- Buying and Vote-Selling, to encompass in the prohibition, modernized modalities used in the combination of the said election offense and providing stiffer penalties therefor, and v) amendments to Party-List Law the provisions on accreditation, computation on allocation and redefinition of marginalized and underrepresented, among others.

With the objective of streamlining and highlighting the need for, and importance of, electoral reforms, we hope that the identified issues and possible solutions from the MOVE! Colloquium and the mentioned priority initiatives and measures mentioned by Rep. Maximo Dalog and Chairperson George Erwin Garcia will jumpstart and strengthen collaborative engagement to strengthen public support.

LENTE also calls on the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and People's Participation to lay down its priority legislative measures to identify the areas of convergence with the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms and the Commission on Elections. LENTE believes this is necessary to address the perennial problem of having only a few electoral reform laws being passed. As electoral reform processes are both political and technical in nature, we have to maximize the 1st Regular Session of the Congress, which is the best time to initiate reforms.

In light of further strengthening the Philippines' electoral legal framework, LENTE encourages fellow Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to be part of the #MOVEment supporting these electoral reforms that will empower the electorate and improve the public confidence in the electoral process which can be pursued both at the COMELEC and Congress. Borrowing the words of Atty. Monsod, "We are responsible for what we are, and it is we who can change it."

All that is important is this one moment in movement. Together, let us all move towards safe, accountable, transparent, and inclusive elections that inspire national public confidence #SATINangEleksyon.

Contact details:
Atty. Ona Caritos Executive Director
lente.philippines@gmail.com
0917 576 0810

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