Aside from the political parties, one sector that holds the longest line in the madness of the General Elections (GE) is the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) of DLSU. Accountable for the whole process of voting and electing, COMELEC continues to face the responsibility to ensure fairness and transparency in operations.
It then begs the question of how the sector that values integrity, holds the very virtue within their own organization. The LaSallian holds an in-depth interview with COMELEC Chairperson Nicole Leon, who explains what happens inside the ballot box, as we dissect the strands and processes in selecting COMELEC officials.
Who is qualified?
COMELEC offers the following positions: commissioners, core volunteers, and volunteers. Commissioners pertain to the members that make up the organization’s Executive Board (EB), and are in-charge of organizing election proceedings, essentially serving as its project heads.
As for the core volunteers, Leon explains that “sila yung tini-train para maging next commissioners; so naka-assign sila per existent commissioners, tapos ‘yung job ng commissioners, tini-train mo yung volunteers, para if ever they want to apply as commissioners, alam na nila yung gagawin nila.”
(They are the ones who are trained to become the next set of commissioners, so they are each assigned to an existent commissioner, and do parts of the job of the assigned commissioner. The core volunteers are trained so that they are well-prepared once they decide to apply to
Meanwhile, the task of assisting in the different GE events such as the Miting de Avance (MDA), the Harapan debate, and the tallying of votes are delegated to the volunteers. In terms of tenure, the commissioners and core volunteers serve a term that lasts for the whole trimester. The volunteers’ term, on the other, start before the GE and end at the conclusion of the GE.
Any member of the student body can apply to be part of the core volunteers and volunteers, so long as they are not affiliated with any of the political parties. Leon shares that they would review the background of the applicant extensively, and COMELEC would reject the application of an applicant if there were indications that they were affiliated to a political party.
If a student plans to be a commissioner, they need to have at least served as a volunteer, but not necessarily as a core volunteer. On the other hand, volunteers who have served for at least one term are eligible to apply for core volunteers. Leon also points out that COMELEC is not “too strict” when it comes to selecting commissioners. As long as they know that the applicant is responsible and capable of doing the tasks assigned to them, then they consider this applicant to be a contender.
Skimming through the selection
As for how to become a commissioner, core volunteer, or volunteer, Leon states that COMELEC is not strict with the qualifications for each position, but the applicant will need to undergo certain procedures depending on the position being applied for.
The commissioners are responsible for accepting applicants for core volunteers and volunteers, while the Legislative Assembly (LA) determines which of the applicants for the position of commissioner will be approved. The LA aids in the screening process by providing interview questions from which applicants’ scores will be based on.
Core volunteer applicants will be approved based on the interview conducted by COMELEC. During this test, applicants are fielded questions prepared by each commissioner.
Once the applicants are approved, they are invited to attend the General Assembly (GA) in order to further elaborate on the election code, and be oriented on the election process.
Of policy changes
When it comes to the policies of selecting commissioners and volunteers, Leon explains that no changes were made. However, she clarifies that there were instead changes on how commissioners would accept core volunteer applicants.
The questions asked by the commissioners vary from time-to-time. Leon clarifies, “For this year, tinanong talaga namin if they know the election code, so that we’ll know if may alam ba talaga sa elections; baka mamaya gusto lang sumali just because.”
(For this year, we asked the applicants if they know the election code. That way, we’ll find out if they know anything about elections, and are not just applying for the sake of it.)
GE on the horizon
The issue with low voter turnout mirrors the alleged student apathy of the Lasallians. Leon, nonetheless, still remains optimistic, hoping that eventually the student body will have a better understanding on the importance of the University Student Government (USG).
“Kasi kami right now iniisip namin mag-room-to-room. It’s done before; we’ll inform the students on where to vote, on the process of how to vote,” Leon shares.
(Right now, we’re thinking of going room-to-room. It’s been done before; we’ll inform the students on where to vote, on the process of how to vote.)
Room-to-room campaigns (RTR) despite being done before, exhibited insignificant help in voter turnout. Leon adds that the commission is planning on having a Voter Awareness Seminar, but doubts that the tight schedule would allow this to occur. “Yung time din for the Elections sobrang siksik na. And then, if Friday or Saturday we have events na din,” she explains.
(The timeframe for the elections is already tight, and we already have events scheduled on Friday and Saturday.)