THE Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines is determined to ensure that this year’s elections will be credible and free of violence.
This year’s elections will be critical, according to the CBCP, as the country cannot afford another election plagued by allegations of violence and deceit.
“Many of our current political problems, which have hindered fuller economic development and social justice, especially for the poor, can be traced to unresolved questions concerning the conduct of past elections,” Bishop Angel Lagdameo, CBCP president, said in a pastoral letter released yesterday after the CBCP’s 94th plenary assembly.
Many groups have expressed doubts whether this year’s elections will be credible, saying that unless the issues of the 2004 presidential elections are resolved, this year’s elections will only lead to a deepening political crisis.
“As a nation, we cannot afford yet another controversial electoral exercise that further aggravates social distrust and hopelessness,” Lagdameo added.
ELECTION reform advocates have kicked off an ambitious campaign to monitor the role money will play in the mid-term polls in May.
In a conference Monday gathering local and international experts on campaign finance, the Money and Politics Working Group (MAP-Work) announced a pilot project that will track expenditures by candidates in selected races throughout the country. The monitor will focus on expenses for the media, rallies and other events, direct mailings of election propaganda, and other key activities to be identified with help from MAP-Work’s local partners.
â€œPromoting transparency in campaign finance will not necessarily translate to good governance,â€ conceded Beverly Hagerdon-Thakur of MAP-Work member, IFES-Philippines, as she opened the conference at Westin Philippine Plaza in Pasay City. â€œBut it will be a clear step in enhancing trust in the electoral system.â€
â€œI commend you for assuming a formidable task,â€ Christian Monsod, former elections chief, told participants in his keynote speech. â€œYou are going to do battle in the trenches and your obstacles are indeed formidable.â€
Monsod â€” under whose chairmanship the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in the early 1990s investigated sources of contributions to campaign funds â€” listed lack of data as the main obstacle to any serious effort to monitor campaign spending. â€œOne of your tasks is to convince the Comelec to organize and analyze the data and make them useful to researchers,â€ Monsod said.