EDITORIAL: Vox Populi, Vox Dei Very Likely
There seems to be a series of resolutions issued by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the cancellation of certificates of candidacy (COC) of certain candidates, with less than two weeks prior to the May 9, 2022 national and local polls focusing mostly on residency issue.
Given the limited period of time, obviously it is chronologically impossible that such resolutions will attain finality prior to the elections, considering that most of the Comelec orders have been issued only by a division, aside from the fact that a certain period of time is allowed for the filing of a motion for reconsideration.
That means that the poll body’s division will need time to resolve the motion. After that the aggrieved party has the option to bring the matter to the commission en banc.
Moreover, the issue may still be elevated to the Supreme Court for final resolution. In the process there will be plenty of legal gobbledygooks that may require a considerable period of time for the poll body and the Supreme Court to resolve.
While the resolutions may have been just recently issued, the list of official candidates had already been posted online within the month of February, 2022 remains. The subject resolutions have not yet attained finality anyway.
The situation does not augur well for the entire electoral process. It would have been better if the COC cancellation issue had been resolved prior to the posting of the list official candidates. This confusion further heightens the already emerging animosity among rivals, with rabid supporters having the tendency to engage in confrontational manifestations of loyalty. In the meantime, voters will be given a chance to choose their favorite among the candidates officially posted by the poll body.
Consequently, the votes cast in favor of someone whose COC has been resolved cancelled by a Comelec division and yet whose name is still listed among the official candidates earlier, will be counted. Yes, there will be plenty of discussions and protests but eventually such votes cast cannot be declared stray.
There will be no issue if such belatedly declared cancelled COC of certain aspirants do not attain enough votes to win. But once they garner enough votes for victory there will be a lot of confusion, with the discussion focusing on whether to proclaim or not the winning candidates.
Given, however, that it is basic that no vacuum is left unfilled up especially for an elective position, chances are proclamation is a practical option. It is here where the eyebrow raising posting online of the list of the official candidates, pending resolution of the petitions against certain aspirants, is highlighted.
It is highly probable that authorities will readily invoke the time honored principle of “Vox Populi, Vox Dei” (the voice of the people is the voice of God). In the end it is still the power of the ballot that counts. That is why the sanctity of suffrage must be duly protected.
Faithful observance of the sanctity of the ballot is a must in order to functionalize democracy and promote an orderly society. Delay in resolving disqualification or cancellation processes opens the prospect of violence and raises doubts on the capacity of the electoral body to supervise and manage elections convincingly.