Comelec: May polls still fraud-free despite stolen ballot box in Maguindanao

Robie de Guzman   •   June 17, 2019   •   890

A stolen ballot box was found submerged in floodwater behind a municipal office in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao | Courtesy: Sam Zailon Esmael’s Facebook

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday maintained that the conduct of 2019 midterm elections remains fraud-free despite a report on a stolen ballot box in Datu Salibo, Maguindanao.

Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez issued the statement after a certain Sam Zailon Esmael posted on social media last June 14 several photos showing a ballot box allegedly found submerged in floodwater.

Esmael, who ran but lost in 2019 mayoral race in Datu Salibo town, claimed in his post that the ballot box was found submerged in a flooded area behind the municipal office by a passerby who claimed to have been fishing in the floodwaters. He said this is evidence of fraud.

Based on Comelec records, Datu Salibo has 9,504 registered voters. Esmael only garnered a total of 273 votes out of the estimated 5,000 total votes cast.

“As mandated by law, custody of ballot boxes after election day is with the city of municipal treasurer of the locality. Ali A. Mamoribid, the municipal treasurer of Datu Salibo asserts the ballot box found allegedly submerged and abandoned had been stolen from the municipal office by still unidentified persons,” Jimenez said.

“Contrary to allegations made by Esmael and in the absence of any proof of fraud, Datu Salibo Election officer Mary Ann Marohombsar maintains that the conduct of the May 13 polls in her jurisdiction was fraud-free,” he added.

The poll official assured that Mamoribid is presently in close coordination with Marohombsar and the Comelec in the province of Maguindanao in aid of investigation being conducted by the Philippine National Police.

Comelec also called on the public to be cautious of “malicious” allegations and “unfounded” claims, which he said, may be intended to taint the integrity of the recently concluded 2019 midterm polls.

“Actions are now being taken to set the facts straight and hold to account those who are responsible,” Jimenez assured.

Comelec says voter registration to resume in August

Robie de Guzman   •   June 21, 2019

Residents search for their names on the voters list

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Friday that the voter registration for the next election is expected to resume on August 1, 2019 and will run until September 30, 2019.

“Voter registration is expected to run Aug 1 to Sept 30, 2019, inclusive of Saturdays & holidays,”Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said in a post on Twitter.

Jimenez said approximately two million new voters are expected to register in the said period.

“SK (Sangguniang Kabataan) voters need not register anew upon turning eighteen; their names will automatically be transferred to the regular List of Voters,” he added.

Comelec data showed there were more than 61 million registered voters in the last 2019 May Midterm polls. More than 18 million of the said number are from the youth sector or the so-called Millennials and Generation Z, born in the mid-90s and early 2000s.

The poll body has been urging Filipino voters to go out and exercise their right to suffrage in order to elect honest and deserving officials.

Comelec on proclamation of winning senators, party-list groups: ‘Not today’

Robie de Guzman   •   May 21, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has deferred the expected proclamation of winning senators and party-list groups in the 2019 midterm elections on Tuesday.

Comelec Spokesperson Director James Jimenez said in a press briefing that they are still waiting for the certificates of canvass (COC) from Washington, D.C. in the United States.

Jimenez explained the transmission of returns from Los Angeles caused the delay in Washington.

The COC from Washington, D.C. is expected to arrive on Tuesday evening.

He said these votes represent more than 200,000 registered voters, which may still change the rankings in the senatorial race particularly for candidates in the bottom of the top 12.

“In order to make sure na wala nang movement sa rankings ng elected officials natin, we need to get that squared away,” he said in a media briefing at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

He added that even a partial proclamation is still not being considered at this point.

“So not today. We will announce when,” he said.

Jimenez said on Monday that the proclamation of winning senators and party-list organizations may likely be held on May 21.

READ: Comelec hopes to proclaim winning Senators, party-list groups on Tuesday

The Comelec, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC), has so far canvassed 166 out of 167 COCs for the May 13 polls.

As of Tuesday, reelectionist senators Cynthia Villar and Grace Poe still topped the Comelec’s partial and official tally, followed by Bong Go, Pia Cayetano, Ronald dela Rosa, Sonny Angara, Lito Lapid, Imee Marcos, Francis Tolentino, Koko Pimentel, Bong Revilla, and Nancy Binay.

Placing outside the winning circle are reelectionist senators JV Ejercito, Bam Aquino, and former senator Jinggoy Estrada.

Although a date has yet to be determined, the poll body is still eyeing to proclaim winning senators and party-list groups on the same day.

“Ang worst case scenario natin, baka ma-split ang dalawa. But again, right now we are confident na mapagsasabay natin,” Jimenez said.

Once the canvassing of votes is completed, Comelec said it will send out invitations to election winners and their families, and other government officials. Senate race winners will only be allowed to bring ten visitors each due to limited space in the venue.

“There will be no interviews by the media yet, that will be done after the ceremony. We can use the press conference area or even along the sides of the venue but after the program,” said Atty. Frances Arabe, Comelec Director for Education and Information Department.

The poll body has yet to confirm whether President Rodrigo Duterte will attend the proclamation ceremony.

A dry run for the upcoming event is also being held. (with details from Aiko Miguel)

Comelec: No need to extend voting hours

Robie de Guzman   •   May 13, 2019

A voting precinct in Caloocan continues to accept votes past the deadline given by COMELEC | Courtesy: Drew Saludes

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday said there is no need to extend voting hours despite some issues during the opening of voting precincts in several areas.

“We feel that extension is not necessary because the voting hours by design are already flexible,” Comelec spokesperson Director James Jimenez said in a press briefing at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay.

He added that voters who were within 30 meters of the voting center by the poll closing at 6 p.m. will still be allowed to cast their ballot.

“If you’re already there at 6 p.m. and you’re able to get your name in the list then you’ll be able to complete your voting process no matter how long it takes,” he said.

Vote-counting machine (VCM) glitches in various polling areas reportedly delayed the voting process.

Jimenez said that based on reports they received, around 400 to 600 VCMs were replaced, while some voting centers have yet to report its opening to the poll body.

These include some precincts in Naga City in Cebu, Compostela Valley, Samar, Zambales and Sultan Kudarat in Mindanao.

Jimenez said some VCMs were reported defective while other election officers blamed the SD cards that were not functioning.

“Again, we are still really pinning down the reason for the issues experienced by the VCMs, but right now, what we have is the SD cards,” he said.

Although some of these issues have caused a setback in several voting centers, Jimenez said, the election was still considered generally successful because a lot of people were still able to cast their ballot.

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