The Commission on Elections inaugurated its new two-storey office building in Manapla town, Negros Occidental recently.
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon and Manapla town Mayor Manuel Escalante III led the inauguration of the building that houses the Office of the Election Officer, a records room, conference room and the Persons with Disability Affairs Office.
Guanzon, who is a Negrense lawyer, said during the inauguration that since election time is fast approaching, she prays for a violence-free election in the province.
“In this election, may the people be free to vote whom they want to vote for without violence and without fraud,” Guanzon said.
Guanzon also thanked Escalante and Kusog Tausug partylist Rep. Shernee Tan for facilitating the project.
“It is an honor for Comelec to run the elections from the presidential level down to the local level, with its personnel not involved in anomalies,” Guanzon added.
Meanwhile, Manapla town election officer, Claudine Joyce Ballesteros, said they are happy with the new conducive working environment that inspires them to serve their clients better.
Ballesteros said the new office is a big boost as Comelec Manapla also prepares to be the first to utilize the geographic information system in monitoring the coming elections.
“This is a first in the government-citizen partnership building for GIS-guided election monitoring at the local level,” Ballesteros said.
Meanwhile, the Comelec is looking to assess campaign expenses of candidates for the May 9, 2022 National and Local Elections once they have filed their certificates of candidacy.
Guanzon said the plan is included in the reforms they would want to implement in the forthcoming polls.
“There are some reforms that we would like to do. One of them is for computing campaign expenses, we would like, I mean I think the majority of us agree that once the candidate files their COC, then the clock starts ticking for campaign finance so all expenses should be counted from the time immediately upon submission of the COC,” she said in an online event recently.
Under the law, candidates should submit Statements of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCEs) within 30 days after the elections.
Guanzon added that they are also planning to include election advertisements on social media in their assessment.
“We don’t have yet but we are looking for a way to compute ads through social media like Facebook and Twitter. That’s one big project that I would like to see done before I retire in February next year. Because we cannot regulate the use of social media…we don’t have the technology for that. But I think we can compete for the expenses if FB or Twitter will help,” Guanzon added.
She said she believes the elections next year will be different since there is a pandemic.
“It is an election like no other because the rules of the game must change. The method of campaign will be to change…there’s a lot of reliance on social media as campaign platform which is difficult for Comelec to compute in terms of campaign expenses. We are hoping that experts will be able to help us with that,” she added.
The filing of COCs is from October 1 to 8.*PIA/PNA