Pre-shaded ballots torn? Those were spoiled, says PNP on viral video
MANILA (UPDATE)— The Philippine National Police (PNP) clarified on Thursday that what seemed to be pre-shaded ballots torn by police personnel in Cotabato City on election day as captured on video were already "spoiled."
Police spokesperson Col. Jean Fajardo said they already spoke with the cops involved in the viral video, who were supposedly part of the special electoral board of inspectors.
"Nakausap na po natin sila at ito ang nakuha nating information sa kanila. They were tasked to tear itong mga balota dahil tapos na ang botohan. At ayon na rin po sa board ay puwede pong punitin ang unused ballots para hindi na ito magamit," Fajardo explained in a televised briefing.
"'Yung isang nakita doon ay nakita na shaded na balota, ito po ay considered spoiled ballot. Kaya ito po ay sinama na rin sa napunit ng ating kapulisan na nagsilbing special electoral board of inspectors doon sa nasabing presinto," she said.
Earlier, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Commissioner George Garcia said mock ballots were torn in a video circulating online, and that these were not used in the polls.
Garcia explained that political parties typically produce mock ballots to teach supporters how to properly cast their vote.
Police said different versions of the video made rounds on social media, some of which have supposedly been edited "to cast doubts on the integrity of the elections."
The only video they have verified was the one in Cotabato City, where police were authorized to tear the ballots after polling precincts closed at 7 p.m. on May 9.
"Iba-iba kasi ang lumalabas na video at tinitingnan na yan ng PNP anti-cybercrime group... dahil it appears na pinagdikit-dikit po 'yung ating mga video," Fajardo said.
The Comelec, for its part, said the ballots being torn were the "unused" ones.
Acting Comelec spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco added that investigation is still ongoing and they would release a copy of that video.
“'Yung sa tearing up of the ballots, yung video na nakita natin, the PNP had already spoken. Although we have yet to receive the official report, it aligned likewise with my initial perception na lumalabas po, yun po yung unused ballots. That is the first explanation nila," said Laudiangco.
"Kitang-kita mga police, alam na vini-videohan sila. 'Di po nagtatago. Eh, in fact, tinuruan pa nung isang kasamahan nila, 'Hindi ganiyan ang pagpunit. Ganito'," he added.
Reports of faulty vote counting machines (VCMs), power outages, and other issues marred Monday's elections, the first since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
President Rodrigo Duterte urged the poll body to conduct investigation on what happened with the VCM glitches on election day to dispel doubts about the integrity of the elections.