Comelec all set for polls; int’l observers arrive

NEW COMELEC CHAIRMAN Saidamen Pangarungan, and new Commissioners George Garcia and Aimee Neri: All systems go for the May 9 elections

MANILA – All is in readiness for the May 9 national, senatorial, congressional and local elections despite several kinks like disenfranchising thousands of voters whose names were removed in master list of voters or were tagged as “deactivated” and the late arrival of ballots and voting machines in some overseas posts.

This as President Rodrigo Duterte assured anew an orderly conduct of the elections as he named Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdia as head of his transition committee for the transfer of power to the next president at high noon on June 30.

The Philippine National Police, meanwhile, readied some 40,000 police officers and men for election duty while others are on alert in the so-called “hot spot” areas and those placed under Comelec control.

 Comelec Chairman Saidamen Pangarungan assured the nation that it’s all systems go for the May 9 elections as he briefed international election observers, many of them coming from the  United States, and urged every one to uphold the integrity of the elections where some 68 million Filipinos, including 1.7 million overseas Filipinos,  are qualified to vote.

More than 18,000 positions from the President, Vice President, Senators, congressmen up to the provincial, town and city executives are up for grabs in the election, the first to be held while the country is on alert for the COVID-19 pandemic and also the first for overseas absentee voters to vote by mail, especially in the United States and Canada.
The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) said expect a big turnout in this year’s elections as indicated by the attendance of thousands of people in political rallies.
“Maybe around 80% or even more because of the interest in this coming elections,” said NAMFREL Chairman Augusto Lagman and PPCRV Chairperson Myla Villanueva.

Despite the pandemic, the Comelec also expects more Filipinos will exercise their right to vote on May 9.

Chairman Pangarungan told the poll observers to follow the necessary guidelines imposed by the commission.

“You shall have unimpeded access to the electoral process subject only to such conditions necessary for the protection of our Comelec personnel and property, as well as the protection of privileged information,” Pangarungan assured.

“We ask that our monitors uphold the integrity of the elections through their compliance with our guidelines,” he added.

He also expressed confidence that the poll observers will maintain their “impartiality and objectivity” throughout the electoral process. (Claire Morales True)