By William Casis

Senate President Vicente Sotto III expressed misgivings about the feasibility of mail-in votes which occurred in the recent US presidential elections. 

Sotto asked who will receive the votes and if mail-in voting be nationwide. 

He also questioned where the votes will be sent. “Will it (go to) the Post Office?  When will they be counted?”

He also has apprehensions how the government will deal with the votes in case the results were leaked and announcements made prematurely.

“Any of those procedures can be cheated,” he added. 

But Sen. Joel Villanueva said, “Right now, mail-in voting is available for some overseas Filipinos under the Overseas Absentee Voting law.”

“Yes, we should explore our options and ensure that we have sufficient infrastructure and the right mechanisms to enable Filipinos to exercise our right to vote and, more important for me, is to ensure the integrity of our elections.”

He said the benefits of mail-in voting come with serious consequences such as ballot tampering and other kinds of fraud. 

He said there should be enough safeguards to prevent electoral fraud.

Sen. Imee Marcos, chair of the Senate Electoral Reforms said, while the Philippine Post Office will try the mail votes, she admitted that Filipinos do not trust online voting.

She said this is not a completely alien notion under the law. She said this is actually being done by OFWs and seamen in Italy and other countries. “But locally we have not had any experience using the postal services during elections.”

In preparation for 2022- Marcos filed Senate Bill number 1870 – An Act Providing for a  System of Postal Voting by Senior Citizens, Pregnant women, Persons with disabilities and Indigenous peoples.

Senate Minority leader Franklin Drilon said, “We do not have the infrastructure that is needed to assure our people that voting by mail will reflect the true intent of our people.”

“You can imagine the kinds of complaints we will get in voting by mail where it is difficult to monitor. Our current system simply does not permit voting my mail as a process that will accurately reflect the will of the people. I am opposed to it at this time. We can look at it again in the future.”