EDITORIAL - Countdown to May
(The Philippine Star) - January 30, 2016 - 9:00am

The Commission on Elections has started a 100-day countdown to May 9, with officials admitting that that they are behind schedule in many preparations for the national and local polls.

A fun run the other day in front of the Comelec main office in Manila kicked off the countdown, with participants waving brooms to symbolize their desire for clean and peaceful elections. HOPE – or honest, orderly and peaceful elections – has remained elusive since the acronym was coined in the years after the 1986 people power revolt.

For the 2016 vote, the violence started long before even the filing of certificates of candidacy. Murder has become the ultimate form of cheating in Philippine elections. Running unopposed is the ideal. For certain candidates, hiring a killer, including buying his silence afterward, to eliminate a rival is so much cheaper than spending for a bruising election campaign. The belief that it is easy to get away with murder in this country makes political assassinations even more tempting.

Apart from the usual deadly violence, other problems bedevil the 2016 vote. Litigation has seriously set back the Comelec’s timetable for finalizing the list of candidates and printing ballots. The poll body is also behind in completing the certification of source codes for the automated voting and in holding mock elections.

Some of the participants at Friday’s fun run warned that if the Comelec failed to measure up, its officials would be “swept away” by the people through impeachment. The Comelec, however, is not the only entity that must work double-time. Everyone is hoping that the Supreme Court will work with unusual urgency in ruling on the cases filed against presidential candidates Grace Poe and Rodrigo Duterte so that printing of ballots can start with the nation sure that no candidate included in the list will be disqualified later.

Voters themselves must work for HOPE, by being vigilant against illegal campaign practices and political violence, and by making an effort to know the candidates better so that informed choices can be made on election day. HOPE may be elusive, but everyone has a role to play and must keep trying to attain the ideal.

ACIRC AWAY CANDIDATES COMELEC DAY ELECTIONS GRACE POE AND RODRIGO DUTERTE HOPE SUPREME COURT VIOLENCE WORK
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