KONTRA DAYA-SOUTHERN TAGALOG
Reference Person: Erica Chiong
When Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes claimed last Sunday that the commission is 99.99999 percent prepared to oversee the elections, it was to reassure the electorate amid controversies surrounding the entire electoral process. This, even though there was no exhaustive source code review conducted on the PCOS machines, casted serious doubts on the credibility of the country’s second automated elections. Sadly, this is just one of the election-related problems hounding the country today.
Right into the middle of the elections, numerous reports of PCOS malfunctions has turned Comelec’s confident claim into something like an ill-timed joke. In Southern Tagalog alone, no less than 13 polling precincts have experienced PCOS shutdowns, jams, and rejected ballots during the first five hours of the elections, disenfranchising hundreds of voters as a result. There are also reports of pre-shaded ballots, power outages in a number of municipalities in the region, and harassment of poll-watchers, aside from the usual Philippine election fare of vote buying, flying voters and election-related violence.
As of 1:03 pm, some of the election irregularities documented by Kontra Daya-Southern Tagalog include the following:
- PCOS shutdown and malfunction in Bgry. Real, Calamba City; Brgy. San Isidro, Antipolo, Rizal; Brgy. Sinalhan, Sta. Rosa City; and Brgy. Mayondon, Los Baños, Laguna, among others
- PCOS paper jam and ballot rejection in Paliparan 3 Elementary School, Bacoor, Cavite; Dasmariñas Central Elementary School, Burol 1, Cavite; and Paga-asa National High School, Brgy. Victoria Reyes, Dasmariñas, Cavite; Precinct 77, Brgy. Mamatid, Cabuyao, Laguna; and Clustered Precinct 223a-223b, Brgy. Mandaragat, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
- Power outages in Lipa City and Tanuan City in Batangas, which stalled voting in the said areas
- Cases of vote buying in Brgy. San Nicolas, San Pablo City and Brgy. Sampaloc 4, Dasmariñas, Cavite
- Pre-shaded ballots reported in GMA, Cavite. Members of partylists such as Anakpawis also reported that they were not able to vote because their names are not included in the roster
- Supporters of local candidates in Cavite City and Bacoor City were allegedly killed
Brillantes was quick to temper his expectations on the heels of mounting evidence that their much-vaunted PCOS machines are failing them exactly when they needed them to work properly. He said merely 200 PCOS machines are expected to fail at the end of elections, as opposed to the 400 PCOS that malfunctioned in 2010. Volunteers on the ground, as well as numerous poll-watchers, however, are continuously sending in reports that render this projection a gross underestimation. Keep in mind that the PCOS snafus are happening not only in Southern Tagalog but all over the country.
What is the Comelec trying to pull off here? If it is to reassure the public that the elections will still be smooth sailing, then reports from the ground are belying this minute by minute. The PCOS troubles we are experiencing now should be addressed with dispatch so that no additional voters will be disenfranchised. But whatever the case, and after the dust has settled, we should hold the Comelec accountable and Brillantes for his overconfidence without much basis.