One of our assignments for Public Administration 108 (Philippine Administrative Systems) under Professor Wilhelmina Cabo is to interview someone from a Government Agency on 3 pre-selected questions in class.

We chose to do COMELEC (Commission on Elections) and we interviewed Commissioner Resurreccion Borra.


1. What are the most pressing concerns or problems that the agency has to address? How do they plan to address it?

The most pressing matters that the COMELEC faces according to Commissioner Borra is what he calls “ICE”. Integrity, Credibility, and Efficacy.

Integrity in terms of enforcement. He says that the conduct (honesty, etc) in the elections is much to be desired. Accusations of fraud and irregularities have been cited. The present concern of the COMELEC is the COCs from Maguindanao (wherein elections was postponed, and now, votes have not yet been canvassed) and the Special Election on June 20 in some 2 towns and baranggays.

Credibility. He says that despite of what COMELEC does, it is perceived to be lacking of credibility. He says that 2 factors (namely Pronouncement and Performance) are not met. In 2004, he explains that the canvassing for the local and national elections was done in 10 days. (except for the presidential and vice-presidential canvassing because it was done by both senate and house of representatives convened as congress). Now, it is nearing a month, and they have not really proclaimed everyone yet. There are problems and factors beyond their control (ex. ARMM, culture, etc.). He said that these two should go hand in hand. They should deliver what they say.

Efficacy, on the other hand, as he says, requires the sum total of Efficiency and Effectiveness. Efficiency by following the rules and regulations set by COMELEC, and by utilization of meager available resources. Effectiveness by achieving the goals of the election.

He said that these things are not achieved, so it poses as big problem. He added that whatever they do - the people still do not believe.

In addressing I.C.E., the Commission as a whole has a) personnel training b) skills and orientation c) value formation and d) re-orientation (to unlearn what are the wrong practices from the past years and to learn what must be learned)

For this May 14, 2007 elections, they have trained everyone (commissioners, central office persons, field officers, down to the lowest level) Despite the limited funds of the commission, they have different funding from international organizations like Australia AID, USID, UNDP, IFES, etc. Not a single centavo went to the COMELEC, in fact, these organizations directly paid for the instruction manuals, and the voter education materials. There was no money that passed through the COMELEC in these transactions.   

In terms of IT, he says that they are doing enhancement of Philippine election automation, wherein he highlighted 3 areas of concern. History - learning from the experiences of the past elections, Development through Research - getting experts in order to further improve and develop the elections, and Policy and Implementation Recommendation - getting help from procurement watch, elections watch, IT community, etc.)

According to Commissioner Borra, willingness and acceptance are needed for these to succeed.

2. Does the agency encounters/ have encountered conflict with other government agencies or other sectors of society? How do they resolve it?

Yes. COMELEC is an independent constitutional body. It has the mandate by the constitution to implement election laws. Even so, it still has what Commissioner Borra says to be the 3 problems.

1.) Legislative Conflict - Politics is still a factor (unfortunately or otherwise). COMELEC recommends what it wants from Congress, but in the end, Congress still has a say on things. Both the Senate and the House’s interests affect legislative process. “Politics of Accommodation” and “Ladder Ruling” still affect legislation.

2.) Initiative Conflict - The budget of the COMELEC is upon recommendation of the DBM (Department of Budget and Management) to the Office of the President. DBM cut the recommended budget of COMELEC and the President approves it - that is a problem. 

3.) Judicial Conflict - He cited the Supreme Court as an example. In the case of the COMELEC Election Automation that was supposedly done in 2004. The SC ruled against the COMELEC regarding the bidding. SC issued a prohibition in pursuing the contract and a mandamus for re-bidding. He said that that should not be the case because the SC through Judicial Review should say if the bidding was valid or not (if it is legal or if it violated the law of the land). It should have been forwarded to the RTC wherein it can proclaim such ruling. 

They were preparing for 2 years (regarding automation) and in less than a month, The Supreme court ruled to revert back to manual elections. ”Now, you see, that’s a big problem.”

“Do you know who was the complainant in that case?”

It was the losing bidder. (”If you trace it back”) 

Resolving these problems, we go back to the I.C.E.

3. Is there a career opportunity or a change to grow up in the hierarchy for a Public Administration graduate in COMELEC?

“Oh yes!”

He said that he is a perfect example. He had risen through the ranks.

In 1963, he started with the lowest possible rank in COMELEC - a field attorney in Rizal Province.

In 1967-1969 he became Provincial Election Supervisor in Antique. Then in 1969, he became Provincial Election Supervisor in Ilo-Ilo. then in 1973 or 1974, he graduated MPA in Diliman.

In 1971-1973 he was promoted Provincial Supervisor in Negros Occidental. then became the Regional Director of Region II.

In 1992, he became Executive Director. Then he took his compulsary retirement in 2000. And in 2001 he was appointed Commissioner.

He said that before, it was either you knew someone or you have the qualifications. He added that he was the only one with the qualifications, that was why he was accepted into the job. And being a graduate of Public Administration, one would have the necessary skills and qualifications in getting the job. But he reiterated that the most important requirement for anyone who would want to go into government service is I.C.E.


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