By Leslie Ann Aquino
As far as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesperson is concerned, the offense of slapping an election officer by a local candidate is a show of disrespect for the electoral system of the country.
“It shows a lot of disrespect for the election management of the country. The Comelec, except for the one who got slapped in the face, isn’t hurt personally by this. But the problem is that the system itself, the whole idea of orderly elections will be taking a hit because of this behavior,” Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said in an interview.
“It’s the system that has been disrespected here. That’s why it’s very important for the Comelec to do something about this. To take positive and definitive steps to make sure that this does not happen again,” he added.
According to the Comelec Employees Union, Camiling, Tarlac Election Officer Teddy Mariano, 59, was slapped across the face by Marty Toralba, a candidate for Board Member last April 6 after the conduct of “Operation Baklas” on illegally posted campaign posters.
When asked regarding the possibility of the candidate being disqualified because of the incident, Jimenez answered negatively.
“If the basis is him facing charges for this incident, maybe not. Because, again, the basis of disqualification is final conviction. If there is no final conviction, I don’t see how it can end with him being disqualified,” he said.
Jimenez, meantime, reminded candidates that there are rules that allow for the redress of grievances, and these do not include the use of violence.
“We are not thugs, and candidates, more than most, have to hold themselves to a higher standard,” he said. #MatalinongBoto2019