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Comelec: Failure of election is not an option

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) assured voters Thursday that a scenario of the May 9 elections failing is “not an option” amid reports of defective vote counting machines (VCM) just four days before Monday’s polls.
READY TO POLL. Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez (left) sits with (from left) Commissioners George Garcia, Aimee Ferolino, and Marlon Casquejo in answering questions during a press conference at the Comelec headquarters in Intramuros, Manila on Thursday. Danny Pata 

Earlier, the camp of presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. called on Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo to answer the issue on the supposed malfunctioning VCMs.

Comelec reiterated it is all set for the national and local elections, saying the partial and unofficial quick count of votes may already indicate a presidential and vice-presidential winner two to three days after the election day.

“For president and vice president, it’s Congress jointly canvassing the result for president and vice president, and Congress will resume session on May 23 to officially count or canvass the results for president and vice president,” Comelec Commissioner George Garcia said.

In a separate briefing, Casquejo said Comelec “is in control of these elections” following a statement of Vic Rodriguez, spokesman of Marcos, seeking answers regarding alleged “VCM breakdowns left and right.” He pointed out that Casquejo has been silent on the issue.

“Hindi tayo magkakaproblema [sa makina]. Ang daming repair hubs… Naitawid natin ‘yung 2019 elections na mas maraming defective VCMs,” Casquejo told reporters.

[We will not have problems with the voting machines. There are many repair hubs… and we pulled through with the 2019 elections with many more defective VCMs.]

Casquejo reported that out of the 70,924 VCMs subjected to the final testing and sealing (FTS) as of Thursday, only 355 were returned to repair hubs over various issues.

Still, Rodriguez said in a statement Thursday: “We would like Commissioner Marlon Casquejo to answer circulating reports of a looming delay in the conduct of elections scenario.”

National Printing Office (NPO) workers in Quezon City unload ballot boxes from a delivery truck to distribute to different polling precincts in Metro Manila. Mike de Juan 

“Why is Casquejo, as commissioner in charge of the election, conspicuously silent and not being forthright and forthcoming on what is really happening relative to its (Comelec) preparations. Why is he not reporting on the malfunctioning, nonworking and defective VCMs?” Rodriguez added.

The Marcos spokesman said the Comelec official should report before the public the capacity of regional offices to troubleshoot malfunctioning machines.

Meanwhile, the country’s new senators may be proclaimed by May 15 to 16, Garcia said.

“Senators, based on our experience, since the 2010 computerized election, usually po mga [around] May 15 to May 16, we can already proclaim our senators,” Garcia said.

This developed as the Comelec assured the public there will be no foreign intervention in the May 9 national elections.

Garcia said that while foreign media are allowed to cover the elections, the Comelec reminded foreign observers to follow the poll body’s rules or be arrested and deported.

The poll body has accredited around 300 election observers from other countries.

Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente also warned foreigners found supporting any candidates in the coming national and local elections they could be arrested and deported for interfering in the conduct of a political exercise exclusive to Filipino voters.

For local positions, the Comelec may already proclaim the winners as early as the evening of the election day on May 9 up to May 10, according to Garcia.

“Past experiences will tell us that, number one, on the evening of May 9, we will be able to proclaim our mayors, vice mayors, and members of the Sangguniang Bayan (municipal council], at least in smaller municipalities,” Garcia said.

“For cities perhaps, it will take at least 5 days, while for governor, vice governors, provincial council morning of May 10 or the latest up to noon of May 10. That’s how fast we can proclaim the governors,” he added.

He said congressmen can also be proclaimed the next day, which is May 10.

For the top two positions in the country, it is Congress that will proclaim the new president and vice president, the poll official added.

May 9 now a holiday

President Rodrigo Duterte has declared May 9 as a special non-working holiday throughout the country due to the elections, the Palace said Thursday.

Duterte signed Proclamation No. 1357, declaring May 9 a holiday to allow Filipinos “to properly exercise their right to vote” in accordance with COVID-19 protocols.

 

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