Comelec dispels disenfranchisement, probes vote-buying
PUERTO PRINCESA - Election watchdog Legal Network for Truthful Elections (Lente) has reported complaints of disenfranchised voters and vote-buying throughout the recall elections in Puerto Princesa Friday.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec), for its part, said those who did not get to vote were really deactivated or unregistered voters to begin with.
Speaking to ABS-CBN News, Carlo Africa, Lente's national secretariat head, said the recall election was "generally peaceful."
"Pero marami pa ring problema na kailangan mabigyan ng solusyon. Unang problema integrity ng voters list. Maraming kumausap sa amin na merong voters ID, dati nakaboto sila sa precinct pero ngayon wala sila. Ang daming botante tinry bumoto, di nakaboto. Maraming galing sa malayong lugar, di sila makaboto," Africa said.
"In terms of actual number wala po akong mabibigay. Inikot namin, nakita sa bawat presinto, tatlong tao kinausap kami... Nagulat sila ang daming lumalapit walang pangalan," he added.
He also spoke out about vote-buying. "Early in the morning naririnig natin may vote-buying nakikita. May ibang tao na nag-provide ng transportation, pagkain, humahakot. Nakadaan po ako sa limang presinto, parang bawat presinto may mga truck, may mga taong lumalabas galing doon."
Comelec commissioner Christian Robert Lim, meanwhile, thinks the election was generally uneventful.
"So far everything has been peaceful. We've checked in all voting centers, they all opened on time. Voting was orderly. No untoward incident... There's been reports na luto eleksyon dahil maraming voters natanggal sa voters list. As early as 10 o' clock, we've been coordinating with provincial election supervisor and election officer to verify."
"We've checked. Yung complaining voters lumalabas they were deactivated -- they failed to vote twice. Yung iba naman di registered voters... We understand lot of misinformation being passed around to attack the credibility of recall elections," Lim said.
The Comelec is learning its lesson for the 2016 presidential elections. Observers have noted the recall poll is but an opening salvo for 2016.
"Nakikita namin, alam namin vote-buying station meron. Pag tingnan niyo malapit sa school maraming nagkumpol, yun na bayaran. Sa akin nga one problem we have really is even if they're doing blatantly under OEC, you cannot arrest without warrant for arrest, di pwede po," said Lim.
He is hoping Congress can rectify this. "We want to study again vote-buying, principles creating presumption of vote-buying. Kung pwede ma-check sa police as matter of deterrent. Pangit, they're doing with impunity."
Counting began after the close of voting at 3 p.m.
The city board of canvassers is expected to convene at 6 p.m. to start its work of canvassing and later in proclaiming the winner.