Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has introduced a measure integrating all existing election laws, regulations and rules in the country into a single election code to make it attuned to the changing electoral landscape and emerging election technologies.
De Lima, a noted election lawyer before she joined government service, filed Senate Bill (SB) No. 625, which aims to create a multi-sectoral Election Code Recodification Committee (ECRC) that will oversee the drafting of a unified election code.
“We should again initiate efforts to recodify the election laws to make sure that all existing legislation are in harmony with each other and that our election laws address all possible scenarios given the current realities,” she said.
“In doing so, we will also be able to simplify the process in which we learn our election laws by reducing all of them to one cohesive code,” she added.
The last time the country’s election laws were codified was in 1939, with the enactment of Commonwealth Act No. 357, followed by the enactment of Batas Pambansa Bldg. 881, otherwise known as the Omnibus Election Code, in 1985.
According to the Senator, since the ratification of the Constitution in 1987, there have been at least nine election-related laws which were passed, including the Partylist System Law, the Initiative and Referendum Act, the Absentee-Voting Act, the Automated Election Law and the voter registration laws.
“We now live in the time when the technological advances gave us better ways to ascertain voter identities through biometrics. We are now also able to receive and tabulate votes nationally in ways much faster than ever through the automated system of elections,” she pointed out.
Under her proposed measure, De Lima said the proposed ECRC shall study, conduct consultations, and review the provisions of all the existing laws. It will be composed of representatives from various sectors.
“As this is a highly technical or specialized matter, it is best if a multi-sectoral consultative committee of experts be convened to prepare the draft code which will then be the basis for deliberations in Congress,” she said.
The committee, which will be placed under the administrative supervision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), will be composed of 10 members, including a chairperson, who will preside over the deliberations.
Aside from the presiding officer, preferably a retired Comelec commissioner or chairperson, the Comelec will also select three experts on the field of election law or electoral processes or technologies to be determined by Comelec.
A representative nominated by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, a representative nominated by accredited election watchdog organizations, and four representatives to be nominated by Congress will also be named to the committee.
“This way, our legislature, and in turn our country, will benefit from the expertise of the legal luminaries or technical experts on election laws and processes,” she added.
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