MANILA — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday maintained that only trained teachers would handle vote counting machines (VCMs) during election day, after reports surfaced that some personnel in Cotabato City got replaced by untrained ones.
Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Sayadi earlier told state media that she was puzzled how this happened and called on Comelec to sort out the matter, alleging that the untrained staff were not even voters there.
"This is something anomalous. Panawagan lang kay [Comelec chairman] na huwag niyong hayaan 'yung karapatan ng tao dito sa Cotabato City [ay] manipulahin ng mga tao na gusto nila maluklok sa puwesto 'yung kandidato na gusto nila," said Sayadi.
(We are calling on the Comelec chairman to not let other people manipulate our votes just so their candidates would be elected.)
But Comelec Commissioner George Garcia said they were already coordinating with authorities there and they were addressing the problem.
VCM handlers, he noted, must have certification from the Department of Science and Technology.
"Paninindigan ng Comelec kung ano ang nakalagay sa ating guidelines na dapat ay makakapaglingkod lamang na mga miyembro ng electoral boards ay yung mga na-train namin sa napakahabang araw," Garcia said in a televised briefing.
(The Comelec would keep our guidelines which states that only members of the electoral boards could serve us during the elections. These were the people we trained for how many days.)
"Talagang nagtiyaga sila mag-training, at the same time, certified ng DOST ang mga dapat na guro na magsisilbi na miyembro ng electoral boards," he added.
(They worked hard for the training and the only teachers who can be members of the electoral boards were those certified by DOST.)
Meanwhile, Garcia said that the poll body reshuffled some of their field officers in Bangsamoro due to the need to "fix things" in some areas. He did not elaborate.
"Tama po na mayroong pagbabago... 'Yun pong tungkol sa ilang bilang ng na-reshuffle o na-reassign na mga election officers sa bandang area ng BARMM at ilang area sa ating bansa, babalikan ko po kayo sa mga bagay na yan," he said.
(There were changes. Regarding the total number of reshuffling or reassigning of officers in the Bangsamoro region,
President Rodrigo Duterte vowed for a clean and orderly elections this May, threatening those instilling fear to the public.
Duterte earlier last month reiterated that government would not allow "terrorism" in the upcoming polls.
"Kami taga-enforce the law and we will enforce it. Maniwala kayo’t sa hindi, totohanin ko kayo, we will enforce the law to make the election peaceful," he said in a taped address on April 18.
(We are law enforcers and we will enforce it. Believe me.)
Around 65.7 million domestic voters are expected to cast their ballots on Monday.