Comelec to convene nat’l meet to discuss what’s wrong with electoral system

Abalos told reporters in a late afternoon press conference at the Marco Polo Thursday that they will invite all groups who have a stake in the elections to discuss the problems and propose solutions on what he said was an electoral system fraught with "perception of cheating."

"The commission is calling a big conference of all stakeholders of the elections to address all the ills and problems that beset the elections throughout the years," he said.

He described the gathering to be similar to the Supreme Court in its summit on the extra-judicial killings earlier this month. But Abalos denied the SC inspired the commission to do it, saying they have planned it long before the SC summit.

He explained that the conference is needed because every election, the same problems arise.

He noted that there were mechanisms to counter check voting, counting, and canvassing from the precinct level up, and yet the Comelec gets the blame alone.

He said the perception of cheating is widespread now, unlike before. He said poll watching and buying should be probed and addressed. He noted that many atchers hired by candidates and political groups now swarm precincts.

The Comelec will  hold the conference in Manila in the third week of August. He did not answer a question on Maguindanao as a possible venue.

Among the groups named in the invite list are the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines, the lawyers’ poll watch LENTE, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas and other watchdogs.

Abalos said he is confident political parties and party list groups, including the opposition will attend the conference as "everybody is interested."

He vowed to push for electoral reforms, including the plan to computerize voting, eyeing these reforms as part of his legacy.

He said they will look at the real situation of cheating on the ground and find out if it is true that the problem is just a matter of perception. He also said they sought to see why the delay in the canvassing and why political killings happen.

He said the problem is always ARMM elections, so they are looking at using voting by primary or electoral college.

Abalos vowed to clean the ranks of the commission saying they know who are the incorrigible personalities, some of them already facing charges without naming them.

"Election in, election out they are always there," Ferrer added.

The commissioner announced the Commission en banc is expected to promulgate or decide on the indirect contempt case against Maguindanao elections supervisor Lintang Bedol on August 7.

He said Bedol and his lawyers were ordered to appear to the commission en banc at 10a.m. that day. He said this is the first time a Comelec official has been filed a case against what he has been saying against the commission.

Abalos said he is in Davao for the post elections assessment in Southeastern and Southwestern Mindanao regions (Regions 11 and 12) and to oversee preparations for the upcoming barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in October.

Comelec put up satellite offices in barangays to facilitate the extension of registration for youth elections after receiving a grant from the National Youth Commission. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)