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Philippines
Monday, June 24, 2024

Clean and peaceful polls

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Do Filipinos take elections far too seriously that they are willing to go to great lengths fair and foul and even to maim and kill their political opponents just so they can win and hold public office?

We ask this question amid reports of vote-buying, on the one hand, and intimidation and outright violence against political adversaries, on the other, in certain places.

If these reports are validated by authorities, then we cannot help but be worried that these could taint this political exercise and keep us from achieving our goal of clean and peaceful elections.

Clean elections are crucial in a democratic political system.

But if candidates resort to premature campaigning, post campaign materials anywhere they please, ignore the rules set by the Commission on Elections, and resort to vote-buying, whether face-to-face or through online cash transfers, the effect is the same: they make a mockery of our election system and are likely to abuse their power and influence once they are in office.

Peaceful elections are indispensable in making the results of the elections credible.

That’s why the Philippine National Police imposed a strict ban on the carrying of unauthorized firearms outside residence, business or office even way before the campaign period, during the actual voting, and even after the counting of votes.

It appears, however, that some politicians really want to win at all costs.

In Abra, for instance, the Philippine National Police investigated reports that 250 candidates in today’s election had backed out from the race.

Did they back out on their own free will because they thought they had no chance of making it to the winning column?

Or they withdrew because of pressure from their own supporters?

Or perhaps they were paid or even intimidated to do so by their political rivals?

According to PNP chief Gen. Benjamin Acorda Jr., the candidates cited alleged security threats during a recent meeting.

“That number is alarming, so we are having it investigated,” he said, adding candidates should be able to exercise their right to run for public office without any threat or intimidation.

The Comelec had also urged the PNP to intensify its campaign against loose firearms amid the spate of killings and violence in connection with the BSKE.

Comelec Chairman George Garcia had expressed concern over recent violent incidents in Masbate, Pangasinan, Maguindanao and Bohol and asked the police to take action and arrest those behind recent killings and election-related violence.

Our hope is that today’s political exercise will be honest and peaceful, free of any irregularities, intimidation and outright violence that have tainted our elections in previous years.

After all, free and fair elections are hallmarks of a mature democracy.

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