Archive for October, 2007

October 30, 2007

As the electoral process winds down, we’ve been getting a lot of reports about elections ending in, of all things, a tie.

Here’s what the rules say about that:

Sec. 81. Elections resulting in a tie. – In cases where two (2) or more candidates for punong barangay or sangguniang kabataan chairman received an equal and highest number of votes, or where two (2) or more candidates for sangguniang barangay kagawad or sangguniang kabataan kagawad received the same number of votes for the first or last place, the BBOC, after recording this fact in its Minutes, shall, by resolution, and upon five (5) days notice to all the candidates concerned, hold a special public meeting in which the BBOC shall proceed to the drawing of lots between the candidates who have tied and proclaim as elected the candidates who may be favored by luck.

The other candidates who lost in the draw for the first place, if there are only two (2) who tied, shall automatically be the second placer. If, however, more than two (2) candidates tied for first place, rolled pieces of paper duly marked by the numbers “1”, “2”, “3”, and so on shall be made and the contesting candidates shall draw any one thereof, one after the other, and thereafter publicly open the same.

The number of the rolled paper drawn by each shall decide their ranking. The same procedure shall apply if the tie occurs among the second placers and so on.

If the tie is for the position of punong barangay or sangguniang kabataan chairman or for the seventh place for sangguniang barangay kagawad or sangguniang kabataan kagawad, the one favored by luck and proclaimed as elected shall have the right to assume office in the same manner as if he had been elected by plurality vote. The BBOC shall forthwith issue a certificate stating the name of the candidate who had been favored by luck and his proclamation on the basis thereof.

Nothing in this Section shall be construed as depriving the candidate of his right to contest the election.

Can’t get much clearer than that. However, I did receive one query that I think is worth mentioning. It appears that two candidates in a tie have been refusing to have their fates decided by the toss of a coin, and have been pressuring the BBOC to refer the matter to the COMELEC for adjudication.

In my opinion, there is no need for this referral. The rule is clear enough that recourse to luck is by operation of law. The BBOC has no discretion in the matter – i.e., he doesn’t have the power to decide whether or not to proceed with a drawing of lots, and neither does the COMELEC. As soon as the fundamental circumstances are met – that two or more candidates have ended up in a tie – the procedure kicks in without need for any action by the BBOC except for the sending of notice.

Just another interesting feature of Philippine elections.


October 27, 2007

It’s about three hours and a half before the liquor ban kicks in, so I suppose there are alot of folks out there getting a good headstart. After that, about 31 hours later, more than two hundred thousand polling places open nationwide to accept more than 48 million voters who will be choosing 1 Barangay Chairman and seven Barangay Councilmen, and more than 3 million SK voters who will be voting for 1 SK Chairman and seven SK Councilors.

In the meantime, we here at the COMELEC are stepping up preparations to handle the concerns of the public immediately pre-election, on election day, and post-election.

Pre-election jitters are in the air of course, as people wonder whether they’ve done everything they need to do; checklists are being double-checked, i’s are being dotted and t’s are getting crossed. But on balance, the COMELEC is as ready as it is possible to be when you’re talking about elections.

BTW, the Education and Information Department will be trying something new: we will be blogging election day. Not quite as deftly as MLQ3 does it, of course, but it’s an interesting concept and I hope we can pull it off. The blogging will be over at inside the COMELEC (which will be renamed eCOMELEC, with the italicized e standing for the name of the Department that runs it).

Whether now or later
October 17, 2007

There’s a lot of talk about how a new Chairman is not likely to be appointed since there are only 4 months left in the term former Chairman Benjamin S. Abalos left behind.

Without going into the likelihood of a new appointment, that conclusion isn’t completely accurate. Whether appointed now or in February 2008 (when BSA’s term would have run its course) the new Chairman will still serve only 4 months.

It helps to think of a Commissioner’s (or a Chairman’s) term as a clock that starts ticking upon appointment and continues to tick until it has achieved 7 year’s worth of ticking. Along the way, when an appointee leaves his office before his 7 years are up, the clock is stopped temporarily. There are two important things to remember here: first, the clock must stop. It does not run on when the office it is tolling the time for has suddenly gone vacant; and second,  even if it  is stopped, it is not reset. When a new appointee comes along, the clock just restarts from where it previously stopped.

When BSA resigned,  the clock of the chairmanship stopped cold. It does not continue ticking until February. So, if a new appointee assumes office now, he will be using the same clock that only has four months left on it. If, on the other hand, the new appointee assumes office in February – guess what? – he doesn’t get a new clock either. He still gets the clock that only has four months left on it.

So all this talk about no one being appointed because there are only four months left in the term BSA left behind is misguided. There are a dozen reasons at least why it is unlikely that a new chairman will be appointed anytime soon; but the truncated term is not one of them.

October 15, 2007


The campaign period for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections begins on the 19th – that’s Friday. And all during this week, we will be focusing on teaching candidates what they can and cannot do during that time.

Personally, I’m pretty concerned about the garbage that this campaign period will generate.

Over the years, political campaigns have left our sidewalks looking like mini-landfills filled to overflowing. Its a good thing the MMDA is able to pretty much keep on top of things, but it’s the wrong kind of thinking that convinces us that it’s okay to trash our streets because someone’s gonna come along eventually to clean things up.Remember, the landfill problem in Rizal isn’t over yet, despite over-eager reports saying otherwise. And while the landfills remain closed, our junk stays with us. Bad as things are now, you can just imagine how much worse it’ll be when barangay and SK candidates starts pumping out their fliers and start feeding their supporters out of styrofoam lunch packs and plastic water bottles.

There are 41,995 barangays all over the country. There will be 16 elective positions up for grabs, with each elective position attracting at least one candidate – most will be fought over by two or more. If each candidate – assuming each position will have two contenders (unlikely as some have as many as 5 or 6), and that each contender has 20 campaign workers (barangays have a minimum of 2 thousand inhabitants, and each candidate is allowed 1 campaign worker for every hundred) working for 9 days (campaign runs from the 19th to the 27th), and eating 3 squares out of one styro pack and one plastic bottle, by the 28th of October we will have 6,531,062,400 styro packs and 6,531,062,400 plastic water bottles to dispose of, all over the country. And that’s not even counting the candy wrappers and the plastic baggies (and drinking straws) used to sell soda in, and the torn up plastic packs of various junk food.

How’s that for an ecological footprint?

These candidates really need to be educated on how adding to the country’s garbage problem isn’t really the best way to start a career in public service. But more importantly, voters need to realize that concern for the environment is just as important a criteria as a candidate’s ability to bring dancing girls and actors over for the community’s entertainment.

Whose fault is it
October 14, 2007

Something that will be used to smear the COMELEC once again.

PIKIT, NORTH COTABATO — AN 11-YEAR-OLD child said she was made to register last Aug. 27, along with several other minors and older individuals, as voters for the coming Sangguniang Kabataan elections in five riverside villages here.

Ana (not her real name) said, like the other minors and older residents, she was not required to show her birth certificate because armed men were on close watch over the registration proceedings, which were manned only by a few scared barangay teachers.

But only if we don’t act fast and do the right thing.

COMELEC in the malls
October 13, 2007

We’ll be giving out information materials in malls. See you there!

  • October 15 – SM Megamall, and SM City North EDSA
  • October 17 – SM Sta. Mesa and SM Fairview
  • October 22 – SM Manila and SM Valenzuela
  • October 23 – SM Southmall and SM San Lazaro
  • October 24 – SM Bacoor and SM Bicutan
  • October 25 – SM Sucat

Election Campaign and Propaganda
October 9, 2007

First off, the full resolution is available over at inside the COMELEC. These are just the salient points.

SECTION 3. Lawful election propaganda. – Only the following campaign
propaganda shall be allowed:

(a) Handwritten or printed letters not exceeding 8 ½ inches in
width and 14 inches in length; and

(b) Posters of a size not exceeding 2 feet by 3 feet.

There will be common poster areas, not more than ten in each barangay. Candidates are allowed to post one poster in each common poster area.

SECTION 5. Transportation, foods and drinks. – It is illegal for any
person to give or accept, free of charge, directly or indirectly, transportation, food
or drinks or things of value during the five (5) hours before and after a barangay
assembly meeting or other authorized public forum, on the day preceding the
election and on election day; or to give or contribute, directly or indirectly, money
or things of value for such purpose.

As usual, cockfights, dances, lotteries and the like are prohibited forms of fund raising. Also, it must be noted that it is prohibited for any person (or organization) to solicit any sort of money or gift etc., from any candidate. This does not include (of course) church collections on Sunday, tithes, etc. The reverse is also true: candidates are prohibited from giving donations too.

SECTION 7. Limitation upon expenses of candidates. – No candidate
shall spend for his election campaign an aggregate amount exceeding Three
Pesos (P3.00) for every registered voter in the barangay where he seeks to be

Within ten days from the election, each candidate is required to file (with the Office of the Election Officer where he filed his candidacy) a statement of all contributions and expenditures. No person elected to any public office shall enter upon the duties of his
office until he has filed the statement of contributions and expenditures
herein required.

SEC. 11. Prohibition against intervention by political party, coalition of
political parties, or any other organization. – No person who files a certificate of
candidacy shall represent or allow himself to be represented as a candidate of any political party or any other organization; and no political party, political group, political committee, civic, religious, professional, or other organization or
organized group of whatever nature shall intervene in his nomination or in the
filing of his certificate of candidacy or give aid or support, directly or indirectly,
material of otherwise, favorable to or against his campaign for election: Provided, that this provision shall not apply to the members of the family of the candidate within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity nor to the personal campaign staff of the candidate in his barangay; Provided, however, That without prejudice to any liability that may be incurred, no permit to hold a public meeting shall be denied on the ground that the provisions of this paragraph may or will be violated.

Nothing in this Section, however, shall be construed as in any manner
affecting or constituting an impairment of the freedom of individuals to support or oppose a candidate for any barangay office.

Violation of this Section by any political party, group, or coalition of
political parties shall be a ground for the cancellation of its registration with the

Only barangay officials not running in the elections can convene a barangay assembly for the purpose of introducing candidates. Public forums – properly coordinated with the EO – can be held. All candidates must be given equal time to speak. the order of speaking will be determined by raffle.

COMELEC News today
October 4, 2007

Two days after the resignation of former Chairman Benjamin S. Abalos Sr. (BSA), former Senator Francisco Tatad has opines that, since BSA has not submitted a letter of resignation to the President – and there is no record that the President has submitted such a letter of resignation – then BSA remains Chairman of the COMELEC.

In a related story, Secretary Eduardo Ermita said that no replacement for BSA would be appointed. However, there is already talk about who might be. At least one rumored replacement – Supreme Court Associate Justice Dante Tinga – has declared that he will not accept any appointment to the COMELEC. NAMFREL, on the other hand, is reportedly recommending the re-appointment of former COMELEC Chairman Christian Monsod.

The majority of other COMELEC related news refers to the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.  More particularly, to the question of whether or not the elections will push through on the 29th of October 2007. This question has received considerably more urgency in light of the President’s certification of the ‘postponement Bills’ as urgent. However, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita quickly clarified that the President did not ‘postpone the elections,’ as many misinterpreted the certification, but had merely emphasized the urgency of the measures.

Barangay update
October 3, 2007

UPDATE: Secretary Ed Ermita clarified that the President isn’t postponing the elections. He says that, despite the certification of urgency, the decision to postpone is ultimately for Congress to make.

The President has certified as urgent, the House Bill seeking the postponement of the Barangay and SK elections.

That’s all over the news. I’m repeating it here for the purpose of clarifying the mess of misinterpretations and wrong conclusions spawned by that bit of news: the President’s certification DOES NOT postpone the B&SK elections. At most, it probably means that the President is in favor of postponement.

Which means, further, that the Senate still has to bestir itself to act on the postponement proposal, bring their version of the Bill to a bicam conference with the House, harmonize the two versions, finalize the bill, and have the President sign it. All in a matter of twenty-six days.

What effect does the President’s certification have on the COMELEC’s preparations? None, whatsoever. Until a law is passed, the COMELEC will continue its preparations for the B&SK elections. So, if you think about it, the sooner this issue is resolved on way or the other, the better for all of us.

The day after
October 2, 2007

I came late to the en banc meeting today, around 11 am. I don’t think I missed a lot as  former Chairman Abalos arrived just a few minutes ahead of me.

When I got there, the Commissioners were listening intently to BSA recounting the previous day’s events. There were nods of agreement all around the table when BSA got to the part about giving up the last months of his term for the sake of the COMELEC. Then it was the Commissioners’ turn. One after the other, they had their say. At the end of it all, the sense of things coming to an end was palpable.

That was when copies of BSA’s resignation letter was given to each Commissioner.

BSA’s staff came into the conference room – the young women were crying softly, the men looked kinda lost. BSA truly was a father figure to these people. I have only rarely seen him raise his voice in anger at any of his staff. The few times that he actually did, he was quick to  make amends with a joke or a playful flicking of someone’s downcast chin. In fact, he’s that way with everyone he comes in contact with; wit, charm, and a temper that disappears faster than it flares up.

Lunch was served. As always, BSA was pre-occupied with seeing to it that everyone had something to eat, refusing to eat anything himself. He left the conference room and went into his adjoining office, looked around and went back out again. This time, he went to the staff room where he kidded about someone not eating enough or something. I didn’t really catch the joke. Just the laughing. Then he went back into the conference room, shook a few hands. Still smiling.

I tell him he looks well.

He looked out the conference door and saw the media pressed up against the glass of the main door to the Chairman’s Office. One last smile at everyone in the conference room and he went off with a purposeful stride, through the staff room, past the security guards, and into the waiting flashbulbs.

It’s around one-thirty.