By: Novelyn Balangui and Claudine Paulino
The Commission on Election of La Trinidad (COMELEC La-Trinidad) assures that candidates of the coming election will refrain from violating the Fair Election Act.
Republic Act No. 9006 otherwise known as the Fair Election Act, aims to enhance the holding of free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible elections through fair election practices. This includes lawful election propaganda which regulates the use of any medium used by candidates either local or national, whether through print, broadcast, television and other medium used for election propaganda.
“No ditoy ili tayo nga La Trinidad, maibaga nga natalna ta awan met kitdi ti maibaga nga aggat-gatang iti botos. Ngem no idiay daduma nga ili ket adda nga talaga (Here in La Trinidad, there are yet no cases of vote-buying. However in other areas, there are those who do vote-buying),” said Atty. Rodante C. Selpaten, COMELEC-LT Chairman.
Atty. Selpaten said that in his experience as COMELEC chairman, some places in the Cordillera o rampant violation of the election laws. Not only do they buy votes through money. Some buy votes using guns and violence.
“It was disheartening,” he said.
Atty. Selpaten noted, however, that such experience is way different here in La Trinidad.
“The campaign and election here in La Trinidad is generally peaceful,” he said.
He added that in La Trinidad, some candidates do not do straight vote-buying. Instead, they try to win the hearts of voters though giving donation. However, this is considered as another form of vote buying.
Chairman Selpaten added that while vote-buying is happening on La Trinidad, they are yet to validate these reports.
With this, citizens are encouraged to be vigilant and are asked to report those candidates who violate the said law. It is when a complaint is made that violators can be apprehended. Thus, the COMELEC- La Trinidad encourages voters to coordinate with them to prevent further vote-buying and vote-selling.
While election campaign is on-going, candidates are using different medium to persuade voters such as the use of print, broadcast, and social media. As a preventive measure, the COMELEC initially conducted Oplan Baklas on April 5, 2019. This was done through a task force composed of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Philippine National Police (PNP), and the COMELEC-LT.
The COMELEC-LT said that campaign posters must be posted in designated areas only. For the private properties, consent from the owner must first be obtained. Moreover, materials which do not follow the standard size limit and without the phrase “Political advertisement paid for” followed by the real name and address of candidate or the payor are prohibited.
Accordingly, 50 percent of the posted campaign materials in La Trinidad violated the mentioned prohibited facts. In fact, if they were to be stricter, around 70% of the materials posted will be removed for violating the law.
Yet again, the COMELEC reminds the candidates to strictly follow the rules under the fair election act especially vote-buying.
“No kasjay nga sincere ken honest da nga agsirbi ditoy ili tayo nga La Trinidad, ket masapol metlang a sincere da iti panagkampanya da (If the candidates are really sincere in serving La Trinidad they should also show their sincerity during the campaign),” said Atty. Selpaten.
With this, the COMELEC encourages the people to vote wisely.
“Isunga nasapa ti kampanya tapno adda oras dagiti botante nga maamuan ti kababalinan ken kinatatao dagiti kandidato (The reason why the campaign is early is for people to have enough time to know and assess whom they should vote),” Atty. Selpaten added.
Therefore, he said, the campaign period should not be abused by the candidates just to earn public trust. Voters, on the other hand, should be wise voters and not let themselves be easily dissuaded by false promises.
“As political candidates get wiser, we hope that voters get wiser in choosing the right candidates, too,” ended Atty. Selpaten.
“Ti election ket haan nga tungtungan ti kuwarta no di ket maipanggep iti masakbayan iti tattao a pagserbianda (Election is not about money. It is for the sake of the people to be served by them),” he ended.