LAST Monday’s elections were “generally fair and peaceful,” declared the Commission on Elections (Comelec), dismissing reported incidents of cheating and other irregularities as minor and isolated.
But reports by election watchdogs are portraying a different picture. On Election Day, 45 cases of fraud and ten cases of violence marred voting in precincts nationwide, reported the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV). The cases involve vote buying, misinformation, electioneering, presence of flying voters and disenfranchisement.
Attempts at ballot snatching were reported in Borongan, Eastern Samar, where a member of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) intentionally misread the names of candidates. In Plaridel, Bulacan, three policemen entered precincts, allegedly upon orders of their commander. Presence of an armed group was likewise reported in Baler, Quezon. While in Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat, armed men were even stationed inside the polling place.In Surigao del Sur, the Philippine National Police was asked to investigate alleged incidents of ambush and shooting.
Even the PPCRV was not spared from fraudulent acts; three persons misrepresented themselves as PPCRV personnel in different precincts in Navotas, while in Bukidnon and Shariff Kabunsuan, volunteers were barred from entering the polling precincts during the counting of votes, due to allegations that only poll watchers from Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (Lakas-CMD) and the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC) are allowed inside the polling places.
In Balaga, Bataan, PPCRV volunteers were not recognized by BEI officials, while in Malolos, Bulacan, a BEI official denied volunteers a copy of the certificate of votes (COVs). Similar incidents were reported in different areas in Cabanatuan.
In Pasay, the election watchdog received a letter claiming that 1,000 long-time voters in Barangay 13 were denied their right to vote due to a petition of exclusion filed by a certain Armando Villegas, a pedicab driver who hails from another district. The petition was allegedly signed by Judge Gina Palamos, Branch 46 of the Metropolitan Trial Court.
Meanwhile, in Iligan City, a teacher fell prey to harassment. The teacher was threatened not to report the incident and to declare that the election in the area was “peaceful.”
In Butuan, rampant cases of vote buying were reported. Cash offers ranged from P200 to P500 in the suburbs, to as high as P700 to P1,500 in the municipalities, according to eyewitnesses accounts. Similar incidents of vote buying were reported in Surigao del Sur and San Francisco in Quezon.
The election watchdog also reported 51 cases of irregular election procedure. Pictures were taken showing ballot boxes with only one or two padlocks instead of the required three in various schools in Metro Manila. Ballot boxes were left unattended outside a municipal hall in Cainta and Antipolo. Precincts in Malabon lacked COVs, and in Parang, Marikina, there were allegations that some COVs were not signed by the chair.
A padlocked city hall was reported in Caloocan, which caused the inability of the BEI to deliver the ballot boxes.
Power outage in different parts of the country became a cause of alarm, especially in Pasig where three vehicles carrying “questionable” boxes were spotted near the polling places during the brown out.