Today marks the end of the eight-day period for public service aspirants to file their certificates of candidacy for the May 2022 national and local elections in this pandemic ravaged country of 110 million people.
An expected more than 60 million qualified and registered votes – including hundreds of thousands of late registrants who have been given until October 30 to sign and submit their registration papers in satellite offices of the Commission on Elections nearest their respective residences.
There are more than 18,000 national and local elective positions waiting to be filled in the May 9, 2022 polls, with the slots for president and vice president topping the list of positions, followed by 12 seats for senators and 63 for party-list representatives.
Up for contention in the local races are 253 seats for district representatives, 81 each for governors and vice governors, 782 for provincial board members, 146 each for city mayors and vice mayors, and 1,650 for city councilors.
There will also be 1,488 seats each for municipal mayors and vice mayors as well as 11,908 for municipal councilors.
For the BARMM (Bangsa Moro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao) polls, 40 seats are open for party representatives, 32 for parliamentary district representatives, and eight for sectoral representatives.
The Comelec said the party-list would constitute 20 percent of the total number of representatives, while district representatives to be contested correspond to the number of legislative districts in the country.
In any case, we rally behind Philippine National Police chief, Gen. Guillermo Eleazar’s order this week to all police personnel to exert all efforts in stopping extortion activities by the New People’s Army during the election season.
Eleazar’s order came after President Rodrigo Duterte warned communist rebels and political warlords to stay out of the national and local elections next year and that the NPA must be prevented from collecting “permit-to-campaign” fees from politicians.
Before he steps down from Malacanang in June next year, when his six-year term ends, President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed a wish to leave the office with “clean” national and local elections next year, especially in his home region in Davao.
In his taped television address Monday, the 76-year-old Duterte said “What I want, before I leave, is for Filipinos to have a taste of a clean election, especially in Mindanao. I am appealing to the leaders, to all the tribes.”
Duterte also appealed to would-be candidates to keep the conduct of the May 2022 polls peaceful and warned communist rebels and warlords that he would use military and police force should they interfere in the coming national elections.
“I will not allow fraud, especially those warlords with arms. If that’s what you’ll do, including you,” he said
Thus far, those who have filed their certificates of candidacy for president are Senator Panfilo Lacson, Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Francisco Domagoso, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, and Vice President Leni Robredo.
Those who are running for vice president are Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Dr. Willie Ong, and Senator Christopher Lawrence Go.
By nightfall today, the race track would hopefully be clearer – who are the others running for president and vice president as well as 12 senators from each presidential/vice presidential tandem down to district and party-list representatives, provincial and municipal officials.
We need not reiterate the importance of free and fair elections, an axiom that lays down the foundation of every healthy democracy, and ensures that government authority derives from the will of the people. But to have confidence that their elections are truly free and fair, voters need to be assured of more than just a well-managed day of polling.
For indeed democracies rest upon the principle that government exists to serve the people. In other words, the people are citizens of the democratic state, not its subjects. Because the state protects the rights of its citizens, they, in turn, give the state their loyalty.
This is why Eleazar’s reminder is most timely. Read him: “I would also like to remind candidates not to give in to these illegal activities of communist rebels. Let us do everything to ensure that next year’s elections will be clean and orderly.”
And he has assured the public that the PNP would be vigilant against communist terrorists and other local threat groups before, during, and even after the elections.
Let us help make the 2022 national and local elections truly reflective of the will of the Filipino people.
That much we owe to the younger generations of Filipinos. (ai/mtvn)