Comelec concealing ballot info?

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star
Comelec concealing ballot info?
A worker verifies printed ballots which will be used for the May 9 national and local elections, at the National Printing Office in Quezon City, suburban Manila on March 15, 2022.
AFP / Jam Sta. Rosa

MANILA, Philippines — Less than a month before the national and local elections, Sen. Imee Marcos questioned the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for banning accredited observers from noting down the destinations and packing details of voter ballots ready to be shipped nationwide.

Marcos, who chairs the Senate committee on electoral reforms and people’s participation, said the incident took place last Tuesday when the officer-in-charge of security at the National Printing Office (NPO) told observers that they were no longer allowed within the agency’s premises.

Marcos said the ban followed a confrontation the previous day between the observers and an NPO security guard, who said their taking down of notes on ballot shipments would cost him his job.

“Why be secretive about the shipping info on voter’s ballots, unless Pandora’s boxes are being sent out for election mischief?” she added.

The independent inspection of ballots and secure digital (SD) cards only began last month after most of them had already been produced and Marcos’ committee discovered that observers were being kept out of the NPO compound in Quezon City and the Comelec’s technical hub in Santa Rosa, Laguna.

Marcos noted that the Comelec was setting itself up for failure in deciding to limit the use of digital signatures to Metro Manila, Cebu and Davao due to supposed difficulty in procuring the right type of cable for vote-counting machines.

“The Comelec has made excuses of the pandemic and procurement to set aside inspections and security checks required by law. It has offered no convincing remedies to inspire public trust,” she said.

“Less than a month before May 9, the Comelec’s shortcomings have put the integrity of the coming elections under a cloud of doubt,” she added.

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