44,448 bets vying for 18,053 positions
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - May 13, 2013 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Over 52 million voters will choose who among 44,448 candidates deserve to occupy 18,053 government positions in the country’s second fully automated elections today.

Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes reiterated yesterday that winning candidates are expected to be proclaimed within 48 hours.

Minor glitches may still occur, according to Brillantes, but the poll body is “99.9 percent” prepared to hold the national and local elections.

Comelec records show that 52,014,648 registered voters nationwide are expected to use the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines deployed in 77,829 clustered precincts.

Up for grabs are 18,053 positions: 12 senators, 233 district congressmen, 58 party-list representatives, 80 provincial governors; 80 provincial vice governors; 766 provincial board members; 143 city mayors; 143 city vice mayors; 1,598 city councilors; 1,491 municipal mayors; 1,491 municipal vice mayors; 11,932 municipal councilors; as well as one Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) governor; one regional vice governor; and 24 regional assemblymen.

A total of 33 senatorial candidates are vying for the 12 Senate seats while 123 groups are officially qualified for the party-list race.

Six hundred thirty are running for congressman; 202 for governor; 191 for vice governor; 1,755 for provincial board members; 3,894 for mayor; 3,823 for vice mayor; and 33,703 for municipal councilors.

Meanwhile, there are six contenders for ARMM governor; eight for ARMM vice governor and 80 for ARMM assemblymen.

The Comelec reminded the public that polling precincts will open at 7 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

Over 233,000 teachers will serve as board of election inspectors (BEIs).

Almost 1,000 generator sets have already been deployed by the Comelec to different municipalities, primarily in Mindanao in anticipation of possible power outages.

The close to 80,000 PCOS machines also have external batteries with a life span of 12 hours.

To avoid long lines in polling precincts, Brillantes advised voters to list down their choice of candidates.

He also reminded voters that handing out of sample ballots outside voting centers is strictly prohibited since it can be considered as a form of campaigning.

He said voters must fully shade the ovals beside the names of the candidates that they have chosen.

The Comelec chief also cautioned voters against over-voting, or choosing candidates more than the number required for the specific position, as this could result in the nullification of all votes in that post.

Comelec Commissioner Grace Padaca, for her part, called on voters to use their ballot secrecy folders to ensure the confidentiality of their votes.

At the end of voting hours, PCOS machines are set to come out with the election returns (ERs) containing the results of the voting in the clustered precinct and will immediately transmit the results to the Comelec central server as well as to the “ladderized canvassing system” or to the municipal board of canvassers (MBoC), then to the provincial board of canvassers (PBoC).

By 5 p.m. today, the Comelec will convene as the national board of canvassers (NBoC).

Trend seen by midnight

Before the day ends, the Comelec expects to see a trend on who will make it to the “Magic 12.”

“By midnight, we may see a trend already. Maybe we will know who is at numbers one, two, three, four after we receive results from all over the country,” said Brillantes.

He said they could make the proclamation of at least the first eight senators within 48 hours depending on the discrepancy of votes between candidates.

In case of a tie, Comelec is considering the possibility of a toss coin or lots drawn depending on the choice of the board of canvassers.

The Omnibus Election Code provides that in cases of ties for the highest number of votes, or in cases where two or more candidates are to be elected for the same position, the board of canvassers shall hold a special public meeting at which they shall proceed to the drawing of lots of the deadlocked candidates and proclaim the candidate favored by luck.

The candidate will then have the right to assume office “in the same manner as if he had been elected by plurality of vote.”

Crucial reforms at stake

Today’s midterm elections are seen crucial to President Aquino’s efforts to transform society.

Aquino is banking on landslide wins for his allies to cement his reform agenda.

“The President needs to be able to have a strong coalition in both houses of Congress to be able to push through critical measures,” said Budget Secretary and ruling Liberal Party powerbroker Florencio Abad.

Since taking office in 2010 following a landslide election win, Aquino has maintained record high popularity ratings while overseeing strong economic growth and efforts to tackle corruption that have won international acclaim.


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