Comelec says 'unfair' to blame PNP over viral videos of ballot-tearing

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Comelec says 'unfair' to blame PNP over viral videos of ballot-tearing
Protesters surround the front of the Commission on Elections headquarters in Manila on May 10, 2022 as they denounce what they claim to be fraudulent elections that led to the runaway victory of former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.
Philstar.com / Xave Gregorio

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections defended the uniformed personnel — ostensibly with the Philippine National Police — that figured in a viral video showing them tearing ballots that voted for Vice President Leni Robredo.

At a press briefing Wednesday afternoon, Comelec Commissioner George Garcia said the supposed cops in the viral video on social media could still not be members of the national police, who were deployed to secure election precincts all across the country. 

"We have to determine. We cannot accuse yet the PNP, it's so unfair, maybe it's not their people. At least in one video their faces were shown," he said. "Definitely we'll go deeper into these cases."

Garcia also urged the public to let authorities complete their investigation first before jumping to conclusions. He called the initial claims "fake news" resulting from "election fever."

Comelec director and spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco pointed out that they could be mock ballots or unused ballots that were meant to be torn in half under election protocols. He said there was a possibility that unfinished ballots that happened to vote for Robredo found their way into the same pile as mock ballots. 

"The first thing that came to my mind was that baka nagkamali yung mga special electoral boards sa pag punit. Baka spoiled ballot na nasama sa unused ballots," he said. 

"I think kung sakali baka nagkamali sa instructions. But that's just my thoughts about this, and we will be waiting for the official report from the PNP."

Laudiangco went on to claim that international observers were "all satisfied with the elections that we held" despite widespread holdups and technical difficulties that left voters waiting for hours just to cast their ballots. 

He added that the Comelec could not yet set a hard timeline for investigations to allow for all angles to be investigated no matter how long it takes. 

"This has been reported to us and it will be part of the agenda. Our operations group already digging into the issue, will be investigated and reported to the media," he also said. 

To recall, the Comelec has disclosed that it will be canvassing votes only up to the senatorial and party-lists positions, while all the presidential and vice-presidential votes cast will be canvassed by Congress when it resumes session on May 23.

Garcia has also said that the country’s new senators may be proclaimed by May 15 to 16.


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