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Inspectors’ ouster stirs fraud fears

The Commission on Elections  has replaced teachers with city hall employees in more than 2,000 precincts in Caloocan City, and it could lead to massive cheating in the May 13 polls, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers  said on Tuesday. ACT Rep. Antonio Tinio said teachers, who were trained for election duties, have been replaced as members of the Board of Election Inspectors with city hall employees identified with the re-electionist candidates of the ruling Liberal Party. “This is not just alarming but dangerous. The BEI’s role is crucial since they are the ones calling the shots in the precincts. They have the power to decide who can cast and cannot cast their votes,” Tinio said. Voting precincts operate under the supervision of the three-member BEI, which is composed of the chairman, secretary and member. They make sure that voters freely cast their votes and every vote was counted. Caloocan City has a total of 2,986 precincts with 587,994 registered voters clustered in three districts. The alleged revamp was in the first district, which has 2,012 precincts for 390,975 voters. Tinio said the city hall employees who replaced the teachers “are obviously partisan and could bar the people from casting their votes, especially if the voter is identified with the opponents of their mayor and administration senatorial candidates.” He said non-teachers can be tapped to takeover if there was a shortage of teachers, and in Caloocan City “there are more available teachers who were waiting to be tapped for poll duties.” Tinio said it was possible that “operation replacement” could be happening in other parts of the country, especially in far-flung areas of the country, to ensure a 12-0 sweep for the Team Pnoy senatorial candidates. “Since Day One of the campaign period, the President and the LP campaign manager, Sen. Franklin Drilon, have been barking orders to toe the 12-0 sweep for Team Pnoy. We cannot help but question whether or not this is one way of making sure the mandate is carried out,” he said. Tinio said the Comelec should explain to the public why the teachers who were trained for poll duties were replaced by those “who were trained to do something else.” “We want to know how massive this replacement operation is in areas whose incumbent governors and mayors are members of the Liberal Party,” he said. Teachers who go on poll duty would receive P4,000 per diem, which means that “some 2,012 teachers were deprived of income of P4,000 or a total of P8 million that went to the pockets of the supporters of the administration,” Tinio said. “The Comelec must stop the irregular replacement and reinstate those BEI teachers. If the Comelec will claim this is an isolate case, then we demand that this better not be replicated through the country now that we only have 12 days left before the Ma 13 polls,” Tinio said.
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