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Under tight police, military watch: Poll materials for Cebu arrive

Mitchelle L. Palaubsanon and - Marjun A. Baguio () - April 24, 2010 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - With 16 more days before the first automated election, a total of 3,065 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines and 3,065 ballot boxes arrived in Cebu from Manila the other night.

The election paraphernalia, which will be distributed to the province’s 3,065 clustered precincts from May 6 to 12, are now under the custody of the Commission on Elections.

Cebu provincial election supervisor Marco Lionel Castillano said they will conduct an inventory of the shipment to ensure “misdelivery.”

Castillano said the inventory will also ensure that the machines and the ballot boxes were in good condition.

For security purposes, he said the election paraphernalia were placed in a warehouse under close watch by police and military personnel.

He expressed elation that the poll materials arrived early as scheduled, saying they are supposed to arrive today.

Castillano had met with officials of Visayan Electric Company, telecommunications companies, Philippine National Police, National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, and Cebu City north district election officer Marchel Sarno to discuss contingency measures for the May 10 elections.

During the meeting, Castillano emphasized the need for a stable power supply days before and after the election day. VECO assured in a press statement that it has contingency measures during the election.

A PCOS machine has a built-in battery that will last up to 18 hours.

The twelve container vans arrived at the Port of Cebu at 11 p.m. on Thursday on board Superferry 12.

According to Sarno, a security plan is in place to make sure the PCOS machines will not be tampered or damaged up to the day of their delivery to the polling places.

Sarno said this will also help avoid speculations that the machines have been pre-programmed in favor of a certain candidate.

He said Cebu City has close to 1,000 policemen who can guard the 560 clustered precincts in different schools.

Cebu City Police Office director Patrocinio Comendador said the police and the military have provided a 24-hour security to the poll machines.

Comendador said the police security is composed of personnel from the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team, Mobile Patrol Group, and Regional Mobile Group-7.

He said they would coordinate with Smartmatic and the Comelec should there be another batch of election materials arriving in the city

“We also understand the importance of these machines. The integrity of our ballots partly relies on its security,” Comendador said.

It was learned that volunteers from the Cebu-Citizens’ Involvement and Maturation in People’s Empowerment and Liberation (C-Cimpel) have been allowed to guard the machines. — With Niña G. Sumacot/LPM

CASTILLANO CEBU CEBU CITY CEBU CITY POLICE OFFICE COMENDADOR ELECTION EMPOWERMENT AND LIBERATION INVOLVEMENT AND MATURATION MACHINES MARCHEL SARNO MARCO LIONEL CASTILLANO
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