Brillantes insists no failure of elections
The Commission on Elections on Monday ruled out special elections in areas where glitches were reported in the operation of the precinct count optical scan or PCOS machines, and where ballots and other paraphernalia were delivered to the wrong places.
Election watchdog Kontra Daya said reports of PCOS malfunctions were widespread and would have a major effect on the elections, a view the Comelec disputed.
Although polling stations opened at 7 a.m., more than 90 polling precincts in Metro Manila had not received their designated ballot-counting machines, memory cards and other paraphernalia by 8 a.m.
The watchdog group also noted cases of switched ballots affecting polling precincts in Baguio and Compostela Valley and urged the holding of special elections in these areas.
But Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said there was no failure of elections anywhere in the country.
“No major problems were reported. There may be about 200 out of around 78,000 PCOS machines that malfunctioned, but unless the results will be affected, there is no need for special elections,” Brillantes said.
“These were all small incidents,” he added. “In Bukidnon, we confirmed that the ballots were too big for the machines, and they asked our permission to cut them. Our instructions were that if the machines would accept the trimmed ballots, they could continue cutting them. But this was only one instance. There were certain reports that have been blown out of proportion by the media.”
Brillantes also acknowledged that ballots were delivered to the wrong areas in Baguio City and Compostela Valley, but said no special polls would be conducted there.
“There was no failure of elections,” he said. If at all, he said, the failure might be only in one particular precinct.
He also said it would cost the government P5 million for a special election.
As more than 50 million voters trooped to the polling stations, PCOS malfunctions were reported in Masbate, Pasay, Baguio, Pampanga, Mandaluyong, Quezon City, Marawi, Zambales, Laguna and Zamboanga.
In Binuangan, Misamis Oriental, five PCOS machines in four barangays were rejecting ballots.
In Canlaon City, Negros Oriental, voting had yet to start as of 8 a.m. Because of a malfunctioning PCOS machine.
In Paranaque City, a PCOS machine in Cluster 241 in Marcelo Gym, Marcelo Green Village was rejecting ballots while in Binondo, some voters in P. Guevarra Elementary School chose to go home instead of waiting for the PCOS machine to start functioning.
Vote buying was reported in Calabuanan, Baler where voters were given from P1,000 to P1,500 each. There were also reports of vote buying in Olongapo, Pampanga and Masbate.
In Padre Burgos Elementary School in Manila, one ballot was pre-shaded for local candidates.
Power outages and manual voting was reported in Batangas, Iloilo and Mandaluyong while in Zamboanga City, voters were asked to drop their in a container, presumably for feeding into a counting machine later.
In violation of election rules, supporters of several candidates trooped to polling centers distributing campaign materials in various precincts.
As early as 6 a.m., supporters of local candidates were seen distributing flyers near the Baganga Central School in Baganga, Davao Oriental.
Kontra Daya criticized the Comelec for the use of the PCOS machines.
“Taxpayers paid P1.8 billion for these PCOS machines. The fact that we are seeing numerous cases of PCOS failures, malfunctions and delays only underscores the long-held observation that we were duped by Smartmatic. Comelec allowed the electorate to be shortchanged. This should be the last time we use these machines,” said Gani Tapang, a co-convenor of Kontra Daya .
Another poll watchdog, the Parish Pastoral Council for for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) said it received numerous cases of defective PCOS machines during Election Day.
The PPCRV said voters in P. Guevarra school in Tondo Manila, precinct NO. 1116-A, said they were given pre-shaded ballots, while some were given sample ballots with P500 cash.
Voters in Almario Elementary School, also in Tondo Manila, complained that some PCOS machines bogged down and they were not able to vote.
Voter turnout at the 75 polling precincts under the diocese of Pasig was high but several PCOS machines malfunctioned.
Loreto Sanchez, a priest and coordinator for the Pasig diocese, said the mood and enthusiasm of early voters soured when at least four PCOS machines malfunctioned.
“There were reports that some would not turn on, or accept allots, but the voting continued,” he said.
Sanchez also reported a power interruption in a barangay Lower Bicutan in Taguig.
The National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) reported 17 PCOS machines malfunctioning in the first three hours of the election in Misamis Oriental.
In Bulua National High School, a PCOS machine blacked out and remained unusable, while another machine in Suntingon Elementary School rejected ballots from three precincts.
Ballots were not immediately recorded in Bongbongon Elementary School because of paper jams, while in Lumbia Elementary School, five of the eight PCOS machines were unable to start immediately.
Technical problems were also reported in polling centers in Naawan, Initao and Binuangan.
Namfrel said a number of residents could not find their names in the voter’s lists at their respective voting precincts. Election officials said this was probably caused by the late updating of the voter’s information on the computerized voter’s list.
Voters who could not find their names were advised to go to the local Comelec offices.
Namfrel volunteers also observed that there were frequent complaints of polling centers being overcrowded, and the lack of assistance to make the voting go faster.
There were also isolated incidents of violence.
In Shariff Aguak, Maguindanao, unidentified men fired a grenade toward a polling precinct to scare off voters.
School officer Bai Meriam Kawit said no was reported hurt in the blast.
Maguindanao is one of the provinces identified by the Comelec as an area of concern .
In Basilan, there were reports of ballot snatching.
In Manila, Mayor Alfredo Lim waited for the precinct at Rosauro Almario Elementary School to start accepting voters after PCOS machines there malfunctioned. Lim was accompanied by his running mate Lou Veloso.
Former President Joseph Estrada cast his vote at Padre Burgos Elementary School.
Former Manila mayor Lito Atienza was irked when the PCOS machine rejected his ballot several times. He asked for, and received, a replacement ballot.
In Pedro Guevarra Elementary School in Binondo, Manila 17 of 30 precincts stopped voting because some of the marking pens were drained and others were too watery.
Of the 90 pieces marking pens the school requested at noontime only six were delivered.
In Caloocan City, three trucks of men clad in black shirt and pants who were later identified as Liberal marshals intimidated voters at Deparo Elementary School and Congress Elementary School.
Later in the day, about 35 PCOS machines were reported defective.
Militant lawmakers on Monday demanded that the Comelec order the manual counting of ballots.
The people’s constitutional right to suffrage should be the main concern of Comelec. It must do its utmost that all votes are counted and only a manual counting can remedy this situation,” Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said.
Voters whose ballots were rejected by the PCOS machines must insist that their votes be recorded and all rejected ballots must be counted by the board of election inspectors and anvassed by the board of canvassers, Colmenares said, adding that the Comeelc must order a count of the ballots that were rejected by the machines.
The Gabriela Women’s Party-list Group also reported PCOS failures in various parts of Metro Manila.
In Kalantiaw Elementary School, ballots were directly entered into the ballot box because the machine failed to read them.
Similarly, the group said, in Paltok Elementary School, voters were told that the board of election inspectors would insert their ballots into the PCOS machines when they became operational. Similar problems were reported in Tondo, Muntinlupa, Malabon, Caloocan and Quezon City, Gabriela said.
“If the ballots were directly entered into the box or will be fed into the machine later, how will the voters be assured that their ballots will not be tampered? Gabriela Rep. Luz Ilagan said.
“With these reports, we expect extended voting hours, an incomplete tally of an estimated 20 percent of 7 million votes, and an unreliable election result,” she added.
Kabataan party-list president Terry Ridon said he feared the problems encountered were part of “a massive, organized and planned” electoral fraud aimed at benefiting administration candidates.
“We are off to a bad start,” the youth group leader said. “Massive electoral fraud is inevitable and Team PNoy stands to gain the most from the electoral problems,” he added. “The problems were not minor glitches. The sheer number of incident reports confirms earlier fears we expressed. Both the Aquino government and Comelec are accountable for not addressing the PCOS problems beforehand.”
In Taguig City, where voting was disrupted by a power outage caused by an exploding transformer, PCOS machines switched to battery power.
Several instances of PCOS machines malfunctioning were reported in the city, which was placed under the Comelec’s list of “areas of immediate concern” due to the intensive rivalry of the Tinga and Cayetano clans.
In Makati City, voting at polling precincts was relatively smooth despite the heavy downpour at around 10:30 a.m.
At San Antonio National High School, senior citizens lamented the lack of special precincts for elderly and persons with disabilities, complaining that they had to go up to the third floor to cast their votes.
It was at the same school that Vice President Jejomar Binay and his family, including his daughter and senatorial candidate Nancy Binay, and his son, Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr., cast their votes.
Binay said he was optimistic that both would win. With Vito Barcelo, Gigi Muñoz David, Maricel V. Cruz, and Ferdinand Fabella