Virtual voting

>> Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Ike Señeres

In a manner of speaking, a Barangay Assembly (BA) is similar to the Stockholder’s Meeting (SM) in the corporate world in the sense that it is the highest policy making and decision making body.
As it is supposed to be, the BA could overrule or overturn all the policies and decisions made by the Barangay Council (BC), in much the same way that the SM could overrule or overturn all the policies and decisions made by the Board of Directors (BOD) of a corporation. Further explaining the similarities, the BC is only supposed to function like a BOD, in other words the BC should be subservient to the BA, in the same way that the BOD should be subservient to the SM.
As it is supposed to be, in theory and as it is written in the law, a barangay is practically a corporation, and it could practically do what any other corporation could do, such as borrowing money, lending money, investing money and entering into joint ventures.
The powers to invest does not appear to have any limitation, because a barangay could invest in or go into joint ventures with private corporations, government agencies, local governments and even other barangays near and far. In other words, a barangay could also invest in a cooperative, for all intents and purposes. Generally speaking, it could be said that a barangay could practically go into any business in partnership with any entity, for as long as it is approved by the BA.
Admittedly, I should say that the approval could actually be given by the BC, but based on actual experience and certain events in the past, it would be best if investment decisions should be done at the BA level, and not at the BC level.
In reality, that is actually doable, because the BA is supposed to be convened at least twice a year, meaning that it could actually be convened as often as necessary. By comparison, it could be said that the BA is better and is more powerful than the SM, because the latter only meets once a year.
That is the advantage of the BA over the SM, but the SM also has an advantage over the BA, in the sense that it allows proxy voting.
I think that it has never been discussed whether or not proxy voting should be allowed in the BA. As I see it however, I do not see why that is not possible, because our existing laws would allow the appointment or designation of an Attorney-in-Fact (AIF), be way of a Power of Attorney (POA) that is granted to a nominee.
As it is now, the POA is honored in all transactions, including financial transactions. Since that is the case, there is really no reason why proxy voting should not be allowed in the BA. For that matter, even Filipino citizens who are abroad could vote in the BA through a POA that would be fully acknowledged or authenticated by a Philippine diplomatic or consular office abroad.
Having gone around the bush, I would now go direct to the point by saying that the bottom line in this controversy is the issue of authentication, or in other words, the issue or question that should be answered is whether the person who has issued the POA is who he claims to be.
Truth to tell however, that is exactly what a Notary Public (NP) does, because it is he who certifies that the person who issues the POA or any other legal document is who he claims to be. For all intents and purposes, a Philippine Consul actually functions as an NP abroad, because he certifies or acknowledges that the person who signs any legal document is who he claims to be.
As it is now, the Electronic Commerce Act (ECA) already provides for the admissibility of electronic evidence. Prior to that, the Supreme Court (SC) already issued rules that provided for the admissibility of facsimile copies. It seems to me that this issue should already be settled, but as we surely know it, the ECA still has to be reconciled or harmonized with the Omnibus Election Code (OEC).
I am saying that, because I know as everyone knows that virtual voting or even proxy voting is still not allowed in all local and national elections. I am not sure whether the OEC could be interpreted in order to allow these two forms of voting, but that is certainly a possibility.
               In theory, the process of polling is exactly the same as the process of voting, except the latter has greater value and admissibility. In other words, a poll or survey could bring out data about anyone who the people would prefer to govern them, except that only a real election could put him into office, and not a poll or a survey.
              In practical terms however, the data that comes out of a poll or survey is already telling, because it already measures the preferences of the people. Say it any which way you like, but it is clear that if only electronic virtual voting is allowed via text or email, it would already tell what the people would prefer to say in a BA.
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