Comelec says it received 400 reports of vote-buying

Robertzon Ramirez, Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
Comelec says it received 400 reports of vote-buying
At a press briefing, Comelec Commissioner and Task Force Kontra Bigay head Aimee Ferolino noted that the Comelec got these reports as of 10 p.m. of May 13.
Boy Santos, file

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) had received some 400 complaints of vote-buying with “supporting evidence,” an official said yesterday.

At a press briefing, Comelec Commissioner and Task Force Kontra Bigay head Aimee Ferolino noted that the Comelec got these reports as of 10 p.m. of May 13.

Since Feb. 9, however, the Comelec’s Law Department had received 73 vote-buying concerns.

The poll body did not only receive reports of vote-buying incidents but there were also other issues raised by complainants, according to Ferolino.

“Many of the reports were not vote-buying or vote-selling related. There were complaints regarding video clips that went viral and they just tagged us,” she said.

She claimed that there were messages sent “just to insult the Commission, to air their complaints against the Commission.”

Ferolino maintained that there were incidents of vote-buying, but those reporting them do not want to testify or do not have evidence.

“They are afraid to testify or there is no witness or no evidence. Most of the time, they were just sharing their grievances or they want to have someone to talk to … about some of their frustrations against certain candidates,” she said.

Random technical audit

Meanwhile, the Comelec is studying the conduct of a random technical audit of the vote counting machines (VCMs) and secure digital (SD) cards used in the May 9 elections as part of its investigation on the issues encountered during election day.

Acting Comelec spokesman Rex Laudiangco said Commissioner Marlon Casquejo has proposed to conduct the random technical audit of the VCMs and SD cards to allay fears over anomalies in the recently concluded national and local elections.

Laudiangco added that the plan is also in response to President Duterte’s call for the Comelec to conduct an investigation on VCM issues.

“(Casquejo) will be moving for the random audit not just of the VCMs, but also of the SD cards. That’s how it is, we initiate our own investigation and audit also to check what happened, to get the best practices, how we improve for the next elections,” Laudiangco explained in English and Filipino.

Casquejo yesterday met with representatives of the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC) and the Property Management Office (PMO) and discussed the issues about the defective VCMs and SD cards in response to Duterte’s call.

Laudiangco said the random technical audit would be held after the 10-day period for the filing of election protests to give way to political parties and candidates who are planning to question the election results.

He added that the SD cards and the machines would be reserved so that the Comelec would have the necessary evidence if they are required by local courts, the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) or the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) when interested parties file an election protest.

“So if we still don’t receive anything from potential election protests, we will be proceeding with the random technical audit,” Laudiangco said.

Based on initial findings generated from Casquejo’s meeting with the CAC and the PMO, Laudiangco noted that it appears that the VCMs and SD cards have encountered “very minor issues,” including flickering LCDs and paper jams, among other issues.

Minor issues also include failure to connect the connectors properly, failure to connect the batteries, failure to connect the AC plugs, while some others had encountered “procedural problems” such as the failure to follow the procedures on how to operate the machines.

The minor issues were resolved by cleaning the scanners, activating the printers, repositioning the VCMs and arranging the ballots inside the ballot boxes, according to Laudiangco.



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