ENSURE CLEAN POLLS. President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. (2nd from left) receives the report on the first-ever National Election Summit from Comelec chairperson George Erwin Garcia (2nd from right) on the last day of the three-day event in Pasay City on Friday (March 10, 2023). He also called on various stakeholders to work together in ensuring "free, orderly, honest, and credible elections" in the country. (PNA photo by Rey Baniquet)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Friday said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should act on electoral reforms to ensure “accurate and unalterable” results in order to maintain the sanctity of the elections and people’s trust.

During his speech at the first-ever 2023 National Election Summit at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City, Marcos said the government can implement positive reforms and make election result transmission faster and maintain its accuracy.

“As a democratic and republican government, we derive our power from the people, we recognize that sovereignty is exercised by its citizens through suffrage. On this note, I underscore the Comelec’s critical role as the guardians of our people’s sovereign will in ensuring the integrity of the electoral process,” he said.

He also called on various stakeholders to work together in ensuring "free, orderly, honest, and credible elections" in the country.

"I call for the active cooperation of stakeholders, experts, and civil society organizations to ensure free, fair, credible elections in our country, in strong partnership with an enlightened and informed citizenry,” Marcos said.

The President said the poll body should continuously discuss how to improve the election processes, including the calibration of the capacity of teachers as electoral board members and integration of voter education in the curricula of the K to 12, tertiary level and the National Service Training Program.

“So as we engage with discussions amongst our students and the Filipino youth, we likewise promote and encourage them to form and cast an informed vote, as well as discerningly choose the leaders of our society,” he said.

The summit, Marcos said, should be used as a platform in order to enhance the preparations for the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections in October this year, and all other future electoral exercises.

Support for new polls technology

Meanwhile, Comelec chairperson George Erwin Garcia said the Chief Executive vowed to support their pursuit of a new technology to be used for the next national elections.

“The President himself whispered and said earlier that whatever the Comelec needs, to make our election even better and improved in 2025 and beyond, the executive department will always be 100 percent supportive to the Comelec,” he said in a press briefing at the end of the three-day 2023 National Election Summit at the Sofitel Hotel Manila in Pasay City.

“He said if it is necessary to really change the machine then so be it, let's change the system,” the poll body chief added.

Garcia noted that they will also look at the agreement reached during the summit, as well as the advice of the Comelec Advisory Council and the result of their strategic planning.

“That is important even though in the final analysis of the Comelec will have the final say as to what should be, what kind of machine or system are we are going to use it is very important that everyone is consulted,” Garcia said.

He added that the President seems to be interested in new technology based on his reaction when they visited the exhibit of service providers on the sidelines of the event.

“What he was interested in is really about what he saw at the exhibit... more particularly at the DRE (direct recording electronic) or touch screen technology,” Garcia said.

“Of course, the Commission on Elections will study if it really should shift to DRE, the one that is really just push-button or the OMR (Optical Mark Reader) technology, the one that has a ballot that we will feed into our machine,” he added.

Since 2010, the country’s polls utilized vote counting machines under the OMR technology. (PNA)