Watchdog flags 'irregularities' in overseas voting; Comelec says issues 'resolved'

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 18 2022 04:59 PM

Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Saidamen Balt Pangarungan (4th from left) poses for a photo with the poll body’s commissioners (from left) Aimee Torrefranca-Neri, Aimee Ferolino Ampoloquio, Socorro B. Inting, Marlon Casquejo, and Rey E. Bulay during the turn-over ceremony at the Comelec headquarters in Intramuros Manila on March 9, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file
Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Saidamen Balt Pangarungan (4th from left) poses for a photo with the poll body’s commissioners (from left) Aimee Torrefranca-Neri, Aimee Ferolino Ampoloquio, Socorro B. Inting, Marlon Casquejo, and Rey E. Bulay during the turn-over ceremony at the Comelec headquarters in Intramuros Manila on March 9, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA — Election watchdog Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) on Monday flagged several "irregularities" in the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) conduct of overseas voting, which allows Filipinos abroad to participate in the elections. 

Interviewed over TeleRadyo, LENTE executive director Ona Caritos said several issues, such as delay of ballot shipments and possible tampering, were reported since the overseas voting began last April 10. 

"Iyung delay [ng ballot arrival] sa ibang mga states sa US, tapos yung may mga ballots na na-mail sa mga ilang botante natin na hindi kumpleto yung stamp... At meron tayong isolated report na nakita na 'yung kanyang envelope ay may sira sa tabi so merong tinitingnan na baka na-tamper," Caritos said.

Caritos advised voters who experience problems with postal voting to immediately reach out to the embassy or consulate.

Sought for comment, Comelec commissioner Marlon Casquejo, head of the poll body's overseas voting committee, admitted there have been delays but all have been resolved.

"Well unahin natin yung delayed arrival. Na-resolve na yun... Yung postage stamp naman, kasi may budget na tayo na binigay doon sa DFA, so sila na po yung one way back and forth postal," Casquejo explained. 

Casquejo, meantime, wants to wait for the report on the allegedly tampered ballot.

The commissioner, however, ruled out the possibility of extending overseas voting.

"Hindi puwedeng mag-extend sila labas doon sa May 9. Kasi that will be a violation of the Constitution kasi ang election natin is May 9 talaga, second Monday of May. Itong overseas voting parang especial ito kasi it will start 30 days before the date of election, di po puwede tayo mag-extend," Casquejo said.

Overseas voting runs from April 10 to May 9.