MANILA — The National Press Club, along with two other groups, on Wednesday filed a mandamus with the Supreme Court to compel the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to maintain transparency in the coming May 9 elections.
The petition, which was filed by NPC president Paul Gutierrez, Automated Election System Watch, and Guardians Brotherhood Inc., sought the review of Comelec’s violations of its mandatory and ministerial duty and “allow scrutiny of the automated election system that will be used in the 2022 national and Local Elections from the printing of ballots to the transmittal of the voting results.”
“Surprisingly, the respondent Commission on Elections (“Comelec”) has proceeded and is continuously proceeding, to prepare for the upcoming elections in extreme secrecy… COMELEC’s refusal to be transparent in the conduct of the 2022 National and Local Election will cast doubt on the integrity of the results thereof and will cause political turmoil all to the detriment of the Filipino people,” the petition reads.
The petitioners said the issue involved the Filipino people’s constitutional right to information of public concern and is part and parcel of Comelec’s guarantee of transparency in the 2022 polls.
“Unfortunately, Comelec has not made the above-enumerated information publicly accessible, which adds substantial doubt to the integrity of the upcoming elections. Second, the “time element” justifies direct resort to this honorable Court because this petition is filed during and about the election period. Election period is defined by the 1987 Constitution as the period “commenc[ing] ninety days before the day of the election and shall end thirty days after,” the petitioners added.
The petition states that the immediate resolution of the case “becomes imperative, in order to ensure the integrity of the upcoming elections.”
The petitioners also sought to allow observers in the printing of ballots, configuration, preparation, and testing of the SD Cards, Vote Counting Machines (VCMs) and transmission diagrams.
“These activities were all carried out in utmost secrecy and without the presence of the authorized representatives of candidates and/or political parties, all in violation of Republic Act No. 8436 as amended by Republic Act Nos. 9369 and 9525. (ai/mtvn)