Sunday, May 16, 2010

Long lines, pre-shaded ballots hound 2010 polls, observers say


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05/12/2010 | 05:02 PM
JACQUES I. JIMENO, GMANews.TV
http://bit.ly/9gNwOj 


Foreign observers in the May 10 elections flash their Compact for Peaceful and Democratic Elections vests at a QC news briefing last week. GMANews.TV
















Foreign observers in the May 10 elections flash their Compact for Peaceful and Democratic Elections vests at a QC news briefing last week. GMANews.TV

Long queues, pre-shaded ballots, malfunctioning voting machines, and bypassed electoral procedures were some of the problems noted by international observers who observed the Philippines’ first nationwide automated polls.

"A few machines were not working," Tiina Hiltunen of Finland said in a Balitanghali interview on Wednesday.


Hiltunen, a member of the International Observer's Mission (IOM), also said that equipment that did work "were not as fast" as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Smartmatic promised.

Hiltunen was deployed to Pampanga by Compact for Peaceful and Democratic Elections (Compact), a group advocating peaceful and democratic elections.

Similar problems were also noticed by James Miraflor from the team assigned in Pasig City.

"Some PCOS machines jammed and malfunctioned," he told GMANews.TV in a phone interview.

Instead of voters themselves feeding their ballots into the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, it was done by volunteers from the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and other groups, Miraflor noted.

Although no cheating was seen, "in an ideal electoral set-up, voters should feed the ballots to the machine," Miraflor said.

In the election hot-spot Maguindanao, "although may ilang skirmishes and given the history and context in the area, relatively peaceful [ang elections]," Vim Santos told GMANews.TV in a seprate interview.

But there were pre-shaded ballots in a precinct in Barangay Tenorio, Datu Blas Sinsuat, Maguindanao, said Santos, who was assigned to the area.

"PPCRV members also did not do anything," she added.

"May nakausap kaming poll watchers na nagsasabi na in general, BEIs [Board of Election Inspectors] are cohorts of the politicos," Santos said.

(We were able to talk to poll watchers who said that in general, the Board of Election Inspectors are cohorts of the politicos.)








Foreign observers check out the preparations for the May 10 polls at the Comelec canvassing center at the Philippine International Convention Center.GMANews.TV
Some BEIs also didn’t have proper identification cards, claiming that no budget was allotted for them.

However, the Commission on Elections in Manila said that funds were allotted for the IDs but that these arrived late in Maguindanao, Santos said.

Poll automation plagued with old problems

Other old problems that plagued the conduct of elections included vote-buying and candidates’ campaigning in the polling areas, the group noted.

There were also reports of voters being handed P500 and P1000 bills in exchange for their votes, but these were not rampant, Santos said.

Both Hiltunen and Miraflor confirmed that local candidates campaigned in the polling centers in their areas.

For her part, Santos said, "Same problems plagued this year's automated polls but this time, it was faster and there was less violence."

She attributed it to the newly-assigned soldiers in Maguindanao who could have not yet developed allegiance to local politicians who are known to control the local police and military.

During the 2004 national elections, three towns in Maguindanao left the late Fernando "FPJ" Poe Jr. with no votes at all. The late action star later accused President Gloria Arroyo of massive cheating.

Maguindanao seized the international spotlight in November last year after 57 people, mostly journalists, were brutally massacred when they accompanied — and covered — a politician’s relatives to file his gubernatorial candidacy.

"Although may ilang skirmishes and given the history and context in the area, relatively peaceful [ang elections]," Santos added.

"Voter turn out was between 20 and 30 percent, hindi ganoon kataas, (not that high)," Santos said.

As of 11 a.m. of Tuesday, 40 percent of election returns from 76 municipalities in the province has so far been transmitted.

Foreign observers were just left "laughing" at how "chaotic" elections in the province were, according to Santos.

Compact guided 24 IOM delegates from 10 countries and divided into five teams deployed in 5 areas in the country.

The group said it will consolidate their report and recommendations to the Comelec on May 14. - RJAB Jr., GMANews.TV

1 comment:

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