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Opinion

Spoiled or shaded?

SINGKIT - Doreen G. Yu - The Philippine Star

The incident of the spoiled ballot in Singapore is claimed to be an “isolated incident” and a Comelec commissioner has declared even before the investigation that he himself is calling for that it is “human error.” Perhaps; but has the embassy made public if there were other – and how many – “spoiled” ballots in the batch they received from the Comelec? And if there were other “spoiled” ballots, were they similarly shaded? On the part of the Comelec, weren’t ballots checked before they were shipped out? I would imagine they did some quality control, so I guess this is where the “human error” comes in?

The embassy and Comelec seem to be focusing on the ballot being given to the voter as the problem. The embassy confirmed to the Comelec – after the voter posted about it on her social media account – that a spoiled ballot was “inadvertently and accidentally” given to a voter.

The Comelec commissioner then said, “We should really find out why this spoiled ballot was in the first place given to the voter. This should have been segregated and put in an envelope for spoiled ballots and should not be included in the good or valid ballots.”

What I am concerned about though is how the ballot became spoiled by shading of one vice presidential and several senatorial candidates. I’m no expert but if it was spoiled at the printing stage, it would be smudged, overprinted, off center or something technical like that. If the spoilage occurred in the transport stage, it would be crumpled, torn, wet, dirty or some other defect resulting from mishandling.

But shaded? And selective shading at that?That sounds to me like a deliberate act, and not some accident.

I am not attributing intent to cheat, and certainly the vice presidential candidate whose oval was shaded would want this investigated, and she has said so. So how did shading happen? Did someone along the chain of custody – at the printers, Comelec, the handlers in transport, at the embassy – decide to “practice” voting? Was the shading done manually, i.e. by a pen, or was it part of the printing process? If the former, who did it? If the latter, then this is probably not isolated and there could be other similarly “spoiled” ballots floating around.

Simply saying it’s an isolated incident and promising it won’t happen again just won’t cut it. Definite, factual, specific and HONEST answers must be given – by the embassy and the Comelec primarily, but as well by all who handled the ballots.

And if it turns out that similarly “spoiled” ballots were found in other diplomatic posts – Dubai was mentioned – it is no longer isolated but downright dangerous.

Comelec, we demand honest and complete answers. Your credibility – with all the intrigues going on in your ranks for the past months and even up to now with a senior commissioner resigning in protest – is precarious enough as it is; don’t let it fall apart completely. It’s not just your reputation but our country’s future that is on the line here.

COMELEC

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