Open debates needed for Palawan plebiscite, says LENTE
Election watchdog calls for open discussion on Palawan plebiscite
MANILA – With the coming plebiscite to decide on the possible division of resource-rich Palawan province into three, the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) called on the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to conduct debates between the concerned parties through the four radio stations with less than two weeks before the plebiscite scheduled on Saturday, March 13.
In a statement signed by LENTE Executive Director Atty. Rona Ann V. Caritos, the group said their discussions with different stakeholders and their group’s observations, the general public’s information on the issues involved remains limited.
They cited several factors that led to the current conditions, including limited face-to-face interactions, absence of local television channels have been involved in information campaign, weak and limited internet connection due to geographical location and logistics which continue to place some voters into clear disadvantage and the limited number of audience, during the small townhall meeting conducted by local COMELEC offices.
Atty. Caritos said improved access to sufficient and timely information in the division of Palawan and the conduct of the plebiscite ensures transparency which remains the hallmark of genuine electoral exercise.
“The right to seek, receive and impart information concerns the right of the voters to gain and share knowledge and opinion, and this is necessary to form their will regarding the electoral competitors, whether proponents or oppositors,” she said quoted from “Promoting Legal Frameworks for Democratic Elections: An NDI Guide for Developing Election Laws and Law Commentaries,” by Patrick Merloe.
LENTE said the debates through the four major local radio stations would ensure that more residents will have access to vital information they need when they vote in public schools on Saturday, March 13.
LENTE was joined by the University Student Government at Palawan State University (PSU), Federation of Supreme Student Councils of Western Philippines University (WPU) and the University of the Philippines – Palawenos as well as the LENTE Palawan State University. (Melo M. Acuña)
Atty. Rona Ann V. Caritos, Executive Director, LENTE. (Screen grab from Tapatan sa Aristocrat/January 18,2021/Melo M. Acuna)