MAY 13, 2013
DAVAO CITY – As long as the problems are not immediately fixed and the integrity of the elections is compromised, poll watchdog Kontra Daya said there is no reason for the Comelec to undermine the significance of such glitches and call them “minor problems”.
Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes said in a presscon earlier that reports of errors in the Automated Election System (AES) are but petty.
But Krista Iris Melgarejo, convener of Kontra Daya Southern Mindanao, said one cannot simply call minor an election-related problem that threatens the democratic right as basic as suffrage.
“We know that a single vote disenfranchised, or sacrificed in whatever way, is one too many. It is unacceptable that even in its second year of implementing the automated elections, the Comelec has still not learned its lessons, yet it keeps on covering-up the flaws of the automated elections. This is but an arrogance on the part of the COMELEC,” said Melgarejo belying Brillantes’s pronouncement in the past days that Comelec is 99.9999% prepared for today’s polls.
Melgarejo shared that in many areas in Davao region alone, the reports of fraud, violence and AES glitches are overwhelming. She said that the AES “is such an expensive failure” that discredits the 2013 midterm elections.
“One cannot consider as fruit of careful preparations the misdelivery of ballots for Benguet to Compostela Valley; not even the lack of PCOS machines in many clustered precincts, the number of ballots rejected in Marilog District in Davao City, the pile of oversized ballots in Compostela Valley that needed on-the-spot trimming, and dysfunctional PCOS machines in Davao Oriental and Cotabato City that eventually required manual voting,” added Melgarejo.
Besides problems with the AES, Kontra Daya also monitored a number of frauds like using of relief funds and buying of votes for up to Php 10,000 notably in the Pablo-devastated town of Baganga, Davao Oriental by the camp of the incumbent reelectionist governor Corazon Malanyaon. Other cases of vote buying and illegal campaigning were also monitored in almost all areas in the region.
The poll watchdog also shared the report of a shooting incident that killed a supporter of a mayoralty candidate in Pantukan, Compostela Valley. The group also monitored a bomb-threat in San Miguel, Compostela town this morning, aside from the cases of military harassments against supporters of the Makabayan progressive candidates and partylists in the region.
“We have seen military trucks and tanks in several polling centers, and also soldiers freely roaming around in Marilog, Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental. Worse, priests in Baganga complained that the 67th IBPA under Lt. Col. Mortela engage in partisan-politics by leading prayer rallies in the recent days in support of a particular candidate under the incumbent governor,” shared Melgarejo.
Meanwhile, the group fears more difficulties in the transmission and canvassing of votes later today as some areas in the region are already experiencing power outages and signal jamming such as in North Cotobato.
“This AES brings more worries than confidence. There is no safeguard for the integrity of our votes. There are no accessible solutions for the glitches encountered. There are no clear contingency plans amidst failure of polls in particular areas. This is a big loss, which the Comelec has to be accountable for to the taxpayers,” concluded Melgarejo. ###
Krista Iris Melgarejo
Kontra Daya SMR