Elections and human rights

5 02 2009


CHR Chair De Lima Gives COMELEC Chair Melo copies of the CHR book


COMELEC Chairman Jose Melo and CHR Chairman Leila de Lima talks with reporters after the book presentation

The following is a speech delivered by the Honorable Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Chairman Jose A.R. Melo during today’s presentation of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to the COMELEC with a book entitled “Ensuring the Right to Electoral Participation: Giving Access to Vulnerable Sectors in 2010.”

The book outlines the rights body’s recommendations on how to best ensure the right to suffrage of the most vulnerable sectors in our society during elections: the indigenous peoples, persons with disabilities, internally displaced persons, the detained, the elderly and the first time voters.

COMELEC Chairman Jose Melo’s speech during the CHR book presentation:


2010 is just around the corner and this book – Ensuring the Right to Electoral Participation: Giving Access to Vulnerable Sectors in 2010 – is a very timely reminder to the Commission that our work should not just be limited to administering the elections. We must also be very aware that there are those among us who do not have as much access to the electoral system as they are entitled to and deserve.

And it is very fitting that today is also Global Election Day as we are right now at a very historic convergence.

Prior to today, very few people had ever even thought of elections in terms of human rights; certainly, those in field of elections tend to be more preoccupied with statistics and trends.

This book changes all that.

By inextricably linking the right of suffrage with the concept of human rights – in other words by considering the right to participate in free and honest elections as an unalienable entitlement of every person – we elevate both to higher levels within the hierarchy of individual liberties that need protection.

We wish to reassure the Commission on Human Rights, as well as its formidable helmsman – Chairman Leila M. De Lima – that this book will contribute much to the shaping of COMELEC policies from here on out.

We have already taken steps towards improving access to the electoral system – beginning with the creation of express lanes for the elderly, the pregnant, and for persons with disabilities – but we also recognize that there is so much more to be done.

And the COMELEC will do its share in spreading the word:

Disenfranchisement now cannot be considered a mere symptom of administrative failure, but an offense against the very freedom of a person; we must now emphasize even more that coercion, intimidation, and vote buying are not just despicable acts, that they are violative of fundamental freedoms; and of course, we must declare in no uncertain terms that electoral fraud is no longer just a felony, but an outrage against human dignity.

For this endeavor, this book will be our roadmap, our guide.

The book presentation was held this afternoon at the COMELEC Session Hall, in Intramuros, Manila. The event was attended by COMELEC Chairman Melo and Commissioners Lucenito Tagle and Leonardo Leonida. The CHR, on the other hand, was represented by its Honorable Chairman Leila M. de Lima and Commissioners Cecillia Rachel. Quisumbing, Ma. Victoria Cardona and Norberto dela Cruz.

Also present during the book presentation were representatives from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), The Tahanang Walang Hagdanan, Balay (representing the internally displaced persons), Task Force 2010 and the First Time Voters Project.

Source: http://bagongbotante.ph/eidblog/tag/voting/




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