By Leslie Ann Aquino, Chito Chavez, and Analou De Vera
Voters should start making their list of candidates or “kodigos” ahead of the May 13 midterm polls.
Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner Luie Guia said it is best if voters will prepare their “kodigos” ahead of time so that when they go to the polling precinct, they already know who to vote for.
“Come Election Day, you should know already who you will vote for. It’s even better if you have your kodigos,” he said in an interview.
“So, when you get there, you will just shade away. It’s way better than going there and that’s the only time you will think who you will vote for,” Guia added.
He reminded voters not to put their “kodigos” in their mobile phones as they will not be allowed to use their phones inside the voting center.
“Bringing cellphones is not prohibited. But they cannot be used inside the polling precincts. So don’t put your kodigo in your phones,” said Guia.
Having a kodigo, he said will also help prevent one from making accidental markings on the ballots.
“It’s an optical scanning technology. So any mark or shade that are inside the space, where the voter should be putting their shade to vote for the candidates, could be read by the machine if it reaches the threshold,” said Guia.
“Those are real possibilities if we are not as careful as we should be,” he added.
The Comelec said there are more than 61 million voters in the May 13 national and local elections.
No payouts of gov’t programs
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) has barred all local elective officials and politicians in general from attending payouts of national government programs and activities.
DILG Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya said the Code of Conduct of Government Officials requires public officials and employees to be more circumspect in their activities especially during this campaign season.
“Huwag po tayong magpa-epal sa mga proyekto ng gobyerno lalo na ngayong panahon ng kampanya (Let us not be ‘epals’ (posturing) in government projects especially during the campaign period),” said Malaya.
Malaya said DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año has issued Memorandum Circular 2019-55, prohibiting all local elective officials and politicians in general from interfering or even attending payouts and related activities of national government agencies which could be used as a platform to advance their political interests.
He added that local government unit (LGU) officials should strictly observe high standards of personal conduct in their actions citing Section 4 of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees which imposes upon every public official and employee to uphold public interest over and above personal interest.
The DILG spokesman added the DILG has received reports from other national government agencies, including the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) that some local elective officials are exerting undue influence over the payouts of government programs and activities for the purpose of indirectly endorsing their own candidacies for this year’s midterm elections.
Some politicians even attempted to hijack the distribution of DSWD’s Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) program.
“The payouts of the DSWD, among other programs, are apolitical. We cannot and will not tolerate any politician to speak during the release of assistance. The payout cannot be linked to any candidate or political party,” he added.
Malaya also warns politicians against threatening beneficiaries that they would be delisted if they do not support them in the elections.
“Only the DSWD can delist the names of beneficiaries of their programs. We appeal to all candidates not to ‘politicize’ the payouts otherwise the DILG will be compelled to bring charges against you,” he noted.
Champion of the environment
EcoWaste Coalition has urged the public to elect “true champions for the environment” as the impacts of climate change, marine pollution, and hazardous waste trade become more evident in the country.
“As we mark the Earth Day on April 22, we call upon all registered voters to pick national and local candidates and party-list groups who will genuinely work with and for the people in ensuring a clean, healthy, safe and sustainable environment for all,” said Aileen Lucero, National Coordinator, EcoWaste Coalition.
“We need senators and representatives across the political spectrum who will actively engage in getting national laws and regulations adopted to protect the environment against further degradation and uphold environmental health and justice,” she said.