Comelec looks into viral video of alleged pre-shading of ballots

Comelec looks into viral video of alleged pre-shading of ballots
An elderly woman casts her vote for the mid-term elections at a polling precinct in Manila on May 13, 2019.
AFP / Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines (Update 2, 4:15 p.m.) — The Commission on Elections is starting an investigation into a video showing an alleged pre-shading of ballots, the poll body’s spokesperson said Thursday.

The 39-second video that is being shared online shows a woman supposedly pre-shading several ballots. The post said the alleged incident happened in Lanao del Sur.

Social media users were alarmed by the video, noting such incident raises questions on the credibility and integrity of this year’s elections.

“I saw that video this morning. We’re actually initiating [an] investigation into that,” Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in an interview on GMA News TV’s “News to Go.”

He said, however, that the post lacks vital information. 

He added: “A few things to note about that particular video, however, there is no internal evidence to show where it happened, who did it, when it happened.”

In an earlier tweet, Jimenez sought “help in investigating this video and the content it shows.”

In a press briefing Thursday, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Malacañang will not interfere in the investigation into the incident.  

Monday’s elections was marred by issues on defective vote counting machines and SD cards and an hours-long delay in updates from the Comelec's transparency server. 

‘Video can’t be dismissed as fake’

In the same press briefing, Jimenez said the video cannot be dismissed as “fake” yet. 

“We’ll request assistance from Facebook and perhaps refer it to appropriate authorities for forensic analysis. But we’re not dismissing it as fake. We’re not ready to make that determination yet,” he said. 

Jimenez urged those who have information on the video to file a complaint. 

“If it’s the original uploader themselves, then so much better,” he said. 

The poll body’s spokesperson also said it is “hard to imagine” that the incident shown in the video would affect midterm elections as a whole. 

“Hindi ka pwedeng kumukha ng isang incident sa isang lugar at i-po-project mo sa buong Pilipinas. Kung ito ay nangyari dito, kailangan nating malaman first and foremost gaano ba kalaki ang operasyong ito at kung ma-identify natin kung saan ‘yung problema, yung ang i-q-quarantine natin na result,” Jimenez said. 

(You cannot use an incident from one place and project it to reflect the entire country. If it really happened, we need to know first and foremost, how big is the operation. If we identify the where the problem is, we will quarantine the result.)

He added: “Is it possible that we suspend elections there? Why not? If it can be proven the ballots used were false, then yeah. Let’s suspend elections there by all means. But will it affect everyone else? Unlikely,” Jimenez said. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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