Senator Fred Lim will leave the Senate on June 30, 2007 to become Mayor of Manila, thus leaving a vacant seat in that august legislative body. This fact has been a subject of a heated debate recently. A former Supreme Court Justice and broadsheet columnist has floated the idea of proclaiming the 13th winning Senator to fill up the vacancy arguing that by doing so, this will save the country millions pesos as a special polls will no longer be necessary. The law provides that any vacancy in the Senate can only be filled up by holding special elections.
“A sensible idea” some people said, but COMELEC Chairman Ben Abalos was quick to rebuff the proposal saying that there was no vacancy in the Senate when elections were held on May 14; hence no vacancy needs to be filled. Administration’s top lawyer Romulo Macalintal, echoed the same position. At this point, the issue died a natural death.
But whether or not proclaiming the 13th winning Senatorial Candidate is against the law, the holding of special polls is really a pricey undertaking for a nation that has just concluded holding synchronized national and local elections and subsequent special elections in several areas where the balloting were deemed highly questionable. Another special Senatorial elections in the near future I believe, would only give the electorate – still hung-over by the recent polls – elections fatigue.
But then again, it is the law. As Mayor Lim would bluntly put it, “the law applies to all, otherwise none at all”. It is for this reasons that I offer my humble suggestion to the COMELEC and other parties concerned: Why not hold the elections for the vacant Senate slot simultaneous with the Baranggay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Elections on October 29, 2007 instead of holding it on a separate date?
This would definitely save millions of pesos of taxpayer’s money and avert a looming elections fatigue among the people. Why not? The people have been itching to troop to the Baranggay and SK polls for the longest time anyway.
All the same, one less elections in the country is bad news for the infamous “bad eggs” in the COMELEC who have earned notoriety for allegedly rigging election results in favor of the highest bidder.
To Koko or Migs, whoever loses in the 12th and last Senate slot, Maguindanao is not yet the end of the world. You can still run for Senate again in October (if my proposal gains enough ground) or in any other date identified by the COMELEC (that’s if the electorate is still interested in the electoral system).