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Massive disenfranchisement, cheating feared as VCMs fail

Paper jam in Aliongto Elementary School in Davao City. Photo by Davao Today.
Massive disenfranchisement, cheating feared as VCMs fail

Poll watchdog group Kontra Daya has called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to extend voting hours to 7 p.m. because of numerous reports of failures of Vote Counting Machines (VCMs).

By midday, Kontra Daya has monitored 59 incidents of VCM errors and failures. Within the National Capital Region, malfunctioning or non-functioning VCMs were reported across various precincts in Quezon City, Manila, Navotas, Makati, Paranaque, Marikina, Muntinlupa and Caloocan.

Outside NCR, ongoing VCM malfunctions were reported in the cities and provinces of Batangas, Tacloban, Occidental Mindoro, Naga, Cavite, Davao Oriental, and La Union.

In Brgy. Kayrilao, Nasugbu, Batangas, for instance, some precincts resorted to manual voting due to VCM breakdown and due to the absence of replacement machines. In a precinct from Tuao, Cagayan, a VCM reportedly stopped functioning after processing the first 50 votes.

In many cases, of VCM malfunction, voters were asked by Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) to simply fill out the ballots, and sign a waiver authorizing the BEIs to later feed the ballots into the machine.

In precinct cluster 275 in Brgy. Holy Spirit, the replacement VCMs arrived at 11:30 a.m., so many voters opted to sign the waiver, although poll watchdogs say that such a waiver is illegal and may lead to vote manipulation.

Meanwhile, in this video by BicolToday.com, voters from Brgy. Sirangan, West District, Sorsogon City refused to sign the waiver.

“The direct effect of the VCM malfunctions is the disenfrancisement of voters, as they might not be able to vote in the late afternoon. It also opens up the vulnerablity of using of untested machines—because of the rush and confusion of BEIs, the VCMs might not be set up properly. We also have no way of knowing if they are counting properly. Another problem we are anticipating would be problems of transmission,” said Giovanni Tapang, Kontra Daya convenor.

Alleged vote-buying in the 2nd district of Sorsogon. Photo by Bicol Today.

Incidents of VCMs that failed to print receipts were also reported in Mariano Marcos High School and Araullo High School in Manila, San Francisco Elementary School in Quezon City, and Parañaque National High School.

Inconsistent vote receipts

There were also reported incidents of “inconsistent vote receipts,” or of voter’s receipts allegedly not reflecting the voters’ choice.

In Tipas Elementary School in Taguig, it was reported that votes to presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte went to Mar Roxas, while votes to vice-presidential candidate Alan Peter Cayetano went to Gregorio Honasan.

In both clustered precincts 131 in Palatiw Elementary School in Pasig and 2016A in Juan Luna Elementary School in Manila District 4, a voter claimed to have voted for Duterte, but Roxas appeared in the receipt.

Votes for senatoriable Neri Colmenares were also not recorded in the receipts, in three separate incidents.

Meanwhile, in Sirangan, Sorsogon City, a voter reported to BicolToday.com that his vote to Chiz Escudero went to Alan Peter Cayetano.

Kontra Daya also received reports that votes for Migrante party-list in Cabantuan City, Nueva Ecija were not reflected in the receipts, as reported by Cesar Veloso, father of OFW in death row Mary Jane Veloso.

In two separate incidents, votes for Anakpawis and Bayan Muna party-lists went to An Waray.

Vote-buying

Reports of vote-buying were also widespread. In Cotabato City, P500 was offered to voters, while voters were offered as much as P3,000 in Bislig, Surigao del Sur, allegedly by entities affiliated by the Liberal Party.

Other monitored incidents involve power interruptions, harassment, and presence of the military inside the polling precincts, creating an atmosphere of fear and discouraging voters.

#BeyondElections2016

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