December 14, 2006
SIMULTANEOUS CON-CON, NATL AND LOCAL
Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today opposed a proposal to elect the delegates to the planned Constitutional Convention simultaneously with the election of congressional and local government officials.
The election of Con-Con delegates, senators, congressmen and local executives at the same time was suggested by Speaker Jose de Venecia, Jr. and other congressmen supposedly in order to save on expenses that would be incurred from holding the two political exercises.
Pimentel said that while the De Venecia proposal has some merits, this would be negated by a huge disadvantage: the voters are likely to be confused in having to choose candidates for elective national and local positions and those for the Con-Con.
Moreover, the proposal is inadvisable because constitutional issues will be mixed up with partisan political issues, he said.
Pimentel said the election of Con-Con delegates should be held separately so that the people could intelligently gauge the qualifications of the candidates and understand the proposed constitutional amendments that they will espouse.
Budget authorities said it would cost about P5 billion to elect Con-Con delegates by districts.
Pimentel reiterated his stand that Charter Change should be undertaken after the May, 2007 elections.
He also stressed the importance of restoring the tattered credibility of the Commission on Elections by removing its top officials who dismally failed to prevent the 2004 presidential elections from being tainted by massive fraud.
Pimentel said he remains firm in pressing for the criminal prosecution and removal of Comelec officials who were involved in the anomalous P1.3 billion election automation contract which was voided by the Supreme Court.
As long as these discredited and ineffectual officials remain in office, the coming elections are in danger of being marred by massive irregularities to suit the designs of the Arroyo administration as what happened in the 2004 polls, Pimentel said.
He said part of the cleanup and revamp of the Comelec should be the appointment of at least one Comelec commissioner from nominees of the opposition.
Pimentel said the presence of an opposition nominee in the Comelec is a necessary enhance the safeguard against cheating that will restore the peoples faith in the electoral process.
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