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The Magic 12: COMELEC Proclaims Winning Senators

Last May 13, 2019, more than 47 million Filipinos went out to cast their ballot for the 2019 midterm elections. Although traditionally not as contentious as the presidential elections, the events that have precipitated this country over the past few years have made this election as a compelling litmus test to the people’s confidence in the Duterte Administration.

The candidates who were able to secure the 12 seats of the Senate are:
1. Cynthia Villar
2. Grace Poe
3. Bong Go
4. Pia Cayetano
5. Bato Dela Rosa
6. Sonny Angara
7. Lito Lapid
8. Imee Marcos
9. Francis Tolentino
10. Koko Pimentel
11. Bong Revilla
12. Nancy Binay

With the conclusion of election season and the proclamation of the winning candidates for the Senatorial and Congressional elections, we are now able to fully assess the conduct of this year’s elections.

On this note, we ought to salute and thank all the teachers, volunteers, poll watchers, our armed servicemen and women and the police for being at the frontlines of this sacred exercise done every three years.

Generally, this year’s elections have been orderly and peaceful. Since the automation of the election in 2010, allegations of ballot box stuffing and snatching have been drastically reduced. Save for a few pre-dawn bombings in uninhabited places in some parts of Mindanao, allegations of election-related violence have drastically been reduced.

What should be a source of concern are the reports of massive vote-buying and selling. Unlike other forms of election-related violence, vote-buying and vote-selling are often times more difficult to prosecute considering that most of the time this is denied by the candidate and freely accepted by the voter.

As regards other aspects of this election, pursuant to Accessible Voting law, the Commission on Elections has for the first time fully rolled out the Emergency Accessible Polling Precincts for those persons with disabilities and pregnant women. However, it cannot escape that the volunteers in charge of this EAPP were not given any allowance. Their sad situation was compounded by the swelling heat of summer.

In some areas where the COMELEC designated as pilot areas for the computerized verification of voters, machines broke down during the first hours of voting. While this device ought to purportedly deter flying voters, its unreliability due to pervasive mechanical failure in polling centers have contributed to long lines in voting, compounded by mechanical failure of the voting machines themselves. In Caloocan City, voters whose registrations have already been transferred to another city and even the dead remained in the voters’ list.

Overall, however, the election seemed to be a success. Despite the fiasco on the transparency server which undoubtedly casted doubt in some of our countrymen and women, the ongoing random manual audit conducted by the Legal Network for Truthful Elections and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting has shown that the election returns so far tallies with their records.

In the end, the general will of the public has been respected. Right or wrong, the choices made by the people reflects the state of the nation, which we ought to bequeath to the youth. The challenge is to translate this exercise of popular will with good governance and legislation that will uplift our people.

Undoubtedly, by June 30th, the consolidation of power by the administration required adherents and students of the law to be vigilant. Issues such as Charter Change and death penalty are now suddenly possible. Whether we are for or against the administration, we ought to remain vigilant, for as one great thinker once said: “Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom.”

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