By ALI G. MACABALANG
COTABATO CITY – Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Saidamen Pangarungan has aired an ardent vow to “protect the sanctity of ballots” as he declared the poll body’s readiness for the May 9 elections.
“I swear to Allah (subhannahu wa taala)…I will protect the sanctity of ballots in the coming elections,” lawyer Pangarungan said at the Comelec’s joint conference with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, and the Philippine Coast Guard at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on April 8.
The Department of Energy, the Department of Health, and the Department of Education were represented as well in the meeting, during which Pangarungan also declared the Comelec was “all set” for the synchronized local and national polls.
Pangarungan said his vow was fervent because he made it in the spirit of the Holy Month of Ramadan, during which telling “lies” will make one’s fasting like his not acceptable.
“I am fasting as you have seen me not partaking in food and drinks with you in this conference,” Pangarungan told top officials of the AFP, PNP, PCG, DepEd, DoE and DoH.
In his speech, he announced that with 30 days to go before the actual polls, the ballots have already been printed, the vote counting machines or VCMs and other election paraphernalia across the country were already being deployed.
Pangarungan then called on their AFP, PNP, and PCG partners to once more lend them a hand in securing the ballot.
“We have witnessed in the past how security has played a major factor in the success or failure of elections,” he said.
“Previous elections for decades would not have (been successful) where it not of your crucial, indispensable support and involvement,” Pangarungan said.
He said it is the birthday wish of President Duterte, to have an honest, credible and peaceful May 9, 2022 National and Local Elections which is also the statutory mandate of the Comelec.
“This is one part of the undying legacies of President Duterte that the Filipino people will long remember of him,” said Pangarungan.
“We trust that you will keep democracy alive by protecting the sanctity of the vote. I am sure that each of our uniformed men and women will uphold their oath to God, to country and to service,” he added.
The President appointed Pangarungan last March 9, making him the second Muslim and first Maranao chair of the Comelec. The first Muslim chair was Sheriff Abas, who retired last February.
Sources privy to Palace activities said President Duterte gave credence to Pangarungan’s successful mission in fixing administrative and operational issues in the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF).
The President had appointed Pangarungan twice as NCMF chairman in 2018 and 2021. The NCMF received the prestigious global ISO certification from Bureau Veritas on Dec. 18 last year. (AGM)