“Allow the voters some peace so they can contemplate who they really want to vote for on election day,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said in an interview.
Campaign period over; liquor ban in effect
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - May 12, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The campaign period for the midterm elections ended at 11:59 p.m. yesterday, as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) enforced a 48-hour liquor ban until 11:59 p.m. tomorrow.

“Allow the voters some peace so they can contemplate who they really want to vote for on election day,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said in an interview.

Jimenez added that the selling and drinking of alcoholic beverages in public are prohibited as well as in establishments, except those certified by the Department of Tourism as tourist-oriented.  

“You can drink liquor inside your house but you cannot carry it outside. By Tuesday, these prohibitions will no longer be in effect,” he said.

Meanwhile, an inter-agency committee led by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has certified that the automated election system (AES) to be used tomorrow has complied with the provisions of the poll automation law.

In its six-page Resolution No. 2019-001 last May 2, the Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) certified that the AES is “operating properly, securely and accurately.” 

The resolution was signed by TEC chairman and DOST representative Peter Antonio Banzon and members Arlene Romasanta, representative of the Department of Information and Communications Technology and Eden Bolo, representative of the Comelec.

The TEC resolution added that there had been field testing, followed by a mock election event in one or more cities/municipalities as well as completion of the audit on the accuracy, functionality and security controls of the AES software and source code review.

According to the TEC the other requirements which have been complied with include the certification that the source code is kept in escrow with the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas and that it is “one and the same as that used by the equipment.”

The TEC also found that the requirements on the source code and alpha-numeric instructions that dictate how the AES should operate were in order.

Referendum on Duterte gov’t

Tomorrow’s midterm polls are crucial for President Duterte as it could serve as a referendum of his administration, the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente) said yesterday.

According to Lente executive director Rona Caritos, midterm elections are important for an administration because it could mirror whether or not the people support the leadership.

Aside from this, Caritos maintained, it is also vital for a president to have the backing of the majority of elected officials, especially those in Congress, to secure support for the administration’s programs and policies.  

“If we take a look at history, if the president is popular or enjoys strong people’s support, the candidates that he supports win. If the people do not support a president, they do not vote for the candidates that he endorsed,” she told The STAR.

The Comelec has named Lente as lead convenor of the random manual audit for the midterm polls since National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) declined its accreditation.

NAMFREL’s request to be provided open election data showing results in polling precincts was earlier denied by the Comelec.

Lente said it has around 5,000 volunteer-members who are law students or paralegals.

At stake in the elections are the so-called Magic 12 or the 12 slots for senators.

The major contenders for these positions are divided into two groups – the opposition Otso Diretso and the candidates whom the President and his daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte have endorsed.

Also up for grabs are 61 seats for party-list representatives, 245 House seats as well as 81 slots each for governor and vice governor, 780 provincial board members, 145 slots each for city mayor and vice mayor, 1,628 city council members, 1,489 each for municipal mayor and municipal vice mayor and 11,916 municipal council members.

According to Jimenez, the Comelec expects to proclaim the Magic 12 within two weeks after election day.

On the other hand, majority of the winners in the local polls are expected to be proclaimed within 24 to 36 hours after voting closes or up to about 72 hours at most. 

Jimenez said the Comelec is prepared to conduct the elections in around 85,000 polling precincts nationwide, using the vote counting machines first used in the 2016 polls. 

“I cannot give a 100-guarantee that there will be no problem but contingency measures are in place and these are ready for implementation to address issues that we may encounter along the way,” he added. 

Comelec data showed that there are 61,843,771 registered voters who will vote in the Philippines and another 1,822,173 who are registered as overseas voters.

Over .5 M on duty

More than 500,000 teaching and non-teaching personnel will be mobilized for the midterm elections tomorrow, the Department of Education (DepEd) said.

Education Secretary Leonor Briones on Saturday said 531,307 officials, teachers and personnel will serve in various roles for the polls.

These include more than 250,000 teachers who will serve as officials and members of the board of election inspectors to facilitate the voting in 36,830 public schools nationwide.

The remaining personnel would be involved in the preparation and monitoring of the conduct of the elections, the DepEd added.

“We at the DepEd thank them for continuing to be on the frontline of the foremost exercise of democracy in the country, notwithstanding the demands and challenges that the season entails,” Briones said.

“The current administration of DepEd has been relentless in working closely with the Commission on Elections and other agencies involved so that our volunteers receive better incentives. Through DepEd’s Election Task Force, we also ensure that they are properly oriented and trained to serve in the polls,” she added.

The secretary reiterated that all DepED officials and employees are prohibited from electioneering and engaging in any partisan political activity. 

“DepEd officials are also barred from using their position of authority to influence teaching and/or non-teaching personnel under their supervision of jurisdiction to support any preferred candidate or political party,” Briones said.

The agency will activate an operation and monitoring center at the DepEd Central Office in Pasig City starting today to ensure that teachers are provided with adequate information and technical and legal assistance during the elections.

The center will also serve as DepEd’s institutional link to volunteer organizations, individuals and other agencies involved in the conduct of the elections.

As this developed, the Department of the Interior Local Government (DILG) has assured teachers and other individuals serving in the Electoral Boards of assistance if they encounter any legal problems in the conduct of their duties.

“Teachers are doing election duty over and above the call of duty, so we are pleased that they now have legal protection from unscrupulous candidates or politicians who want to harass them,” DILG Undersecretary and spokesman Jonathan Malaya said in a statement. 

Malaya added that those who encounter legal problems need only to make a claim with the Comelec or DepEd. 

Aside from legal assistance, those who perform election duties also enjoy medical assistance and legal indemnification package by the Comelec. 

Each claimant is entitled to a minimum amount of P50,000 as legal indemnification.

If teachers or other individuals serving election duties experience threats of violence, harassment or intimidation, they may also report this to the Philippine National Police or any law enforcement agency.

For its part, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has deployed assets and its personnel at the seaports in anticipation of passengers who would be returning to their provinces where they are registered voters in time for tomorrow’s elections. 

In a statement, PCG spokesman Capt. Armand Balilo said “proactive measures have already been laid out in all the ports for the exodus of passengers who will be returning to their provinces starting this weekend to vote.”

“Other sea travelers will take the advantage to spend the long weekend in beaches since Malacañang has declared Monday as a special non-working holiday,” the Coast Guard official added. – Janvic Mateo, Romina Cabrera, Evelyn Macairan, Rhodina Villanueva

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