'A historic first': Comelec holds random ballot sampling to appease observers, candidates

Jauhn Etienne Villaruel, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 24 2022 06:41 PM | Updated as of Mar 24 2022 10:05 PM

handout photo
In a "historic first," the Comelec conducted Thursday, March 24, 2022, a random sampling of official ballots following criticisms over earlier restrictions. Office of Comelec Chairman Saidamen Pangarungan handout photo

MANILA (UPDATED) — In a "historic first," the Commission on Elections (Comelec) held Thursday a random sampling of official Halalan 2022 ballots in a bid for more transparency following criticisms over earlier restrictions.

Election watchdogs, representatives of candidates, and other stakeholders were allowed to inspect ballots they randomly selected from the Comelec warehouse. 

The Comelec was earlier criticized for preventing stakeholders from observing the ballot printing at the National Printing Office (NPO) early January, citing the COVID-19 surge driven by the omicron variant. 

As a compromise, Comelec agreed to publicly examine official ballots printed during the observer blackout.

During the random sampling held at the NPO headquarters in Quezon City, participants were asked to wear gloves to avoid contaminating the official ballots.

UV lamps were used to check the security marks on the official ballots.

While Comelec Commissioner George Garcia said the random sampling was a "historic first," he added that "a lot of things still need to be done" to gain the trust of the electorate.

"We have to walk the talk so to speak... The next big thing to be done is to see to it that these ballots and other election paraphernalia are delivered on time," Garcia said.

The timeline for the delivery of official ballots is from April 20 to May 5. 

Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal, representing presidential candidate Leni Robredo, thanked Comelec for allowing the random sampling which he demanded along with other watchdogs. 

"I'd like to thank the commission for being so transparent. I think this is the first time that the Comelec allowed political parties and candidates to observe a random sampling of the ballots... I think we are all happy that for the sake transparency we conducted this activity," Macalintal said.

Comelec chairman Saidamen Pangarungan said that under his leadership, the poll body would be more transparent to stakeholders.

—With a report from RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News 


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