Uriel Quilinguing .
WHATEVER was the basis in setting the schedule of elections in the Philippines must be convincing enough for the framers to clearly state it in the 1987 and 1935 Constitutions. In both versions, national and local elections have been explicitly fixed, except barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections which were repeatedly postponed and reset in the past.
As provided for under the 1987 Constitution, elections for the members of Congress and local positions occur every second Monday of May every third year, hence the forthcoming midterm elections on May 13, 2019. Presidential elections are also held on the second Monday of May every six years and all terms of office end and start June 30 of the election year.
Obviously, the month of May is within the country’s summer season when, aside from the lack or absence of rain, teachers need not rush for classes and classrooms are unoccupied by learners. The situation augurs well for the conduct of the electoral exercises in schools and engage the services of teachers since the Commission on Elections do not have enough manpower.
This could have been in the minds of the framers of the 1987 Constitution in the resetting of the election period from what was previously practiced, as provided for under the 1935 Constitution which, admittedly, was patterned after the Constitution of the United States of America. As such, from 1949 to 1971, national and local elections were held every second Tuesday of November of every fourth year starting 1951. This was so because Americans cast their votes too in the month of November.
After the 1986 People Power Revolution, it was but fitting that some vestiges of American dictates should be shed off, one of which was the conduct of elections in the same month. In a similar practice, the observance of Independence Day was first set July 4 since Americans have theirs on this day, too until it was reset earlier to June 12.
Even if the proponent of moving the conduct of elections from November to May failed to explain why, this column entertains the notion that Filipinos’ observance of All Souls’ Day has something to do with it. It was during these years in Philippine history when observers in political exercises claimed even the souls cast their votes; when votes counted surpass the list of registered voters, and when even the dead are still in the list of voters. There were glaring instances when there were those who voted on behalf those long gone.
For those who get elected in the November election, celebrating their successful bid in December, before they assume their respective posts in January the following year, would be fitting. But for those who lost, it would difficult for them to find joy in Christmas.
Now, this column does not believe it’s only by coincidence that elections are to be held every second Monday of May since 1992 since comes after Lent. This time, elections are set May 13, 2019—barely less than a month after Holy Week when Christian believers reflect on the life and passion of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps it was the intention of the authors of the Constitution that elections must be preceded by a period where those seeking public office and the electorates can have honest-to-goodness soul-searching and reflect on the qualities leaders must possess.
They must have been intended this period for candidates to reexamine their lives, whether they have been true to themselves, and their intentions beyond personal motives. There might be instances, once one gets into public office, when 30 pieces of silver could be so tempting, for one to ignore the dictates of one’s conscience.