Graver penalties for electoral fraud sought

Graver penalties for electoral fraud sought

by UA&P News Desk on March 7, 2012 - 4:23 pm

by Mr. Jose Ma. Luis Montesclaros, Institute of Political Economy

Life imprisonment should be among the penalties for election-related offenses, an election reform movement proposed at a gathering with over a hundred students at the University of Asia and the Pacific.

The current Omnibus Elections Code or Republic Act 881 only imposes up to six months in jail for electoral fraud, making it only as weighty as a simple forgery, the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) said.

Over a hundred students attended the forum on national elections at UA&P.

LENTE, a watchdog composed of law practitioners and volunteers, also suggested other measures to recover public confidence in the democratic exercise of voting, such as mandatory biometrics and general registration to spot flying voters.

Having proper certification of suppliers for voting instruments, lowering the number of voters per precinct and allowing anonymous complaints may also lessen violations like vote-buying and dubious interventions of public officials, LENTE project manager and lawyer Rona Ann Caritos said.

Terrorism, intimidation, fraudulent devices and other forms of corruption also have to be addressed and lobbied against, Caritos added.

In the same event, Commission on Elections (COMELEC) lawyers Erwin Caliba and Rexie May Magsano shared the agency’s vision toward universal suffrage, especially in allowing detainees and persons with disabilities (PWDs) to vote.

Atty .Magsano and Atty. Caliba of COMELEC

An inter-agency network of not-for-profit organizations, civil society groups, malls and other government agencies was formed to carry out public information campaigns to support the initiative to empower PWDs,  Caliba and Magsano said.

Having heard the reports, University students contributed their observations on challenges LENTE and COMELEC may face in implementing reform.

They noted that such barriers include the presence of current legislators who benefited from electoral fraud and the inadequate media coverage of disenfranchised voters and other public concerns.

LENTE and COMELEC speakers urged the audience to cooperate with both the private sector and the government in their efforts toward greater accountability in the electoral process.

Responsible citizens are encouraged to support these endeavors and voice out their concerns, the speakers said. #

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