Comelec Cebu office open to probing 2016 poll claims

By Morexette Marie B. Erram March 08,2018

The Board of Election Tellers (BET) in Cebu test a vote counting machine. Inquirer and Cebu Daily News file photos

The provincial office of the Commission on Elections said yesterday that they are open to any investigation into allegations of poll fraud that occurred in the May 2016 elections.

Provincial Comelec Supervisor Marco Castillano said their office is willing to cooperate with investigators to verify claims that some automated voting machines transmitted poll results even before the actual voting day on May 19.

“It involves the wisdom and integrity of the election and the election process itself. We also want to know the truth,” Castillano told reporters at yesterday’s press conference.

In a privilege speech during last Tuesday’s session, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III called for a Senate investigation into the allegations raised by a “concerned and impeccably reliable” source.

Sotto said his source claimed that the election results were transmitted a day before the elections.

He also questioned why a foreign party had access to the servers used in the elections.

Sotto’s speech prompted the Comelec to conduct their own investigation to determine the authenticity of the allegations.

But Castillano said there were several factors that could lead to suspicions of irregularities in the election process, which include but were not limited to security reasons and logistical difficulties.

He cited one instance when the Comelec in Western Visayas had a hard time testing and sealing the ballots from its vote counting machine (VCM) in the Negros Oriental province.

“Due to the fact that the place is a far-flung area, the testing and sealing was done a day before the elections, and they could no longer properly follow the guidelines. The distance there is one factor,” Castillano said.

Testing and sealing of ballots of VCMs are usually done three days before the elections. Castillano said they needed a dump truck to deliver a vote counting machine to a remote area in Tuburan town, northern Cebu.

Otherwise they had no other logistical difficulties, Castillano said.

He also said they will hire private school teachers and government employees to work as Board of Election Tellers (BET) in the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) elections.

“Their signature is required in their certificate of appointment that they volunteered. We lacked BET since our number of precincts in the province have also increased,” he said.

As of January this year, the Comelec provincial office recorded 8,150 clustered precincts in the province.

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