I am relatively new to the Commission on Elections and I was told that criticisms are part of the job. I have been trying to understand this situation especially as I have been associated with many of those who have recently been attacking Comelec on this single issue of election automation. I am sure that while many of you have mastered the art of ignoring these attacks and live as if they do not exist, some also do get hurt and troubled. It is important to listen and understand the issues that our critics are raising. I always think that listening to the public is part of our job. It is also important, however, for us to realize that, in the end, it is we in the Commission who are tasked to execute the institution’s mandate and are therefore the ones primarily responsible for the success or failure of managing our elections. Thus, for as long we can honestly and confidently say that we are hardworking public servants who conduct ourselves in the highest standard of integrity, competence, and service and who have the best interest of the public in mind, we can proudly hold our heads up high and face anyone with courage and dignity. While we cannot profess to have the monopoly of election knowledge and expertise notwithstanding our years of election management experience, nobody, and simply nobody, can rightfully claim the monopoly of good intentions. Not us. Not our critics. Not anyone else.

Needless to say, good elections bring about good governance, which, in turn, translate into better service to the people. After work we all return to our respective communities and experience government service, or the lack of it, like all other citizens of the country do. There is no sense therefore for us to be doing our work with less passion and dedication than necessary as we are our own client. We stand to benefit from the good works that we do. We also stand to suffer if we do not do our job well. We cannot fail to serve ourselves.

Let us therefore face these criticisms by showing to everyone how we work hard to improve the process and how we are addressing some of the valid issues. Let’s also show that we are achieving great headways in the other aspects of elections. We are pursuing to give better electoral access to those traditionally deprived of access (PWD, Detainees, IPs, IDPs). There is an unprecedented vigor in enforcing campaign finance laws. We will continue to ensure fairer election by enforcing campaign rules. We are continuing to do organizational development efforts to make our institution more responsive to the demands of the times. Let us highlight our successes as we also continue to correct our failures. Let’s be proud of ourselves and of what we do.

A hopeful New Year to All.