Puerto Princesa recall: Vote buying, flying voters reported
PUERTO PRINCESA, Philippines – The much-anticipated recall elections in this city on Friday, May 8, was "generally peaceful," according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), but poll watchdogs reported complaints of anomalies.
Poll watchdogs expressed concerns over vote buying, flying voters, the transportation and food provision of candidates to voters, and the illegal entry of barangay officials at the voting center.
Thousands flocked to polling precincts early Friday to elect the new mayor of the city, choosing between the two leading contenders: incumbent mayor Lucilo Bayron and his challenger, former Puerto Princesa mayor Edward Hagedorn.
Bayron, who is on his first term as mayor, is being recalled for what complainants alleged as mismanagement of the city.
This is the only recall election that the Comelec allowed in the 2013-2016 term of local officials.
On Friday, many voters were frustrated when they failed to find their names on the official voters' list. The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) said this was the most common problem they encountered in the polling precincts.
Father Jasper Odchigue of the PPCRV said many of the voters who claimed that they had voted in the last elections suddenly found their names missing for the recall polls. Others found their names listed in far-away precincts.
The Comelec, however, said that many of those who were delisted were either unregistered or deactivated voters.
Odchigue urged the poll body to make sure that the same problem won't happen again in next year's presidential polls.
He added that it is the electorate who suffers from the backhanded tactics of candidates.
"Ang mga botante ang nahihirapan. 'Yung iba, malayo pa ang pinanggalingan para lang makaboto. Kung sino pa ang walang-wala, sila pa ang hindi nakaka-exercise ng right to vote," he said.
(It's the voters who suffer. Some of them travel a long way just to cast their votes. The ones deprived in life are also the ones who are unable to exercise their right to vote.)
At around 7:30 pm, the canvassing process began at the provincial capitol. But the local Comelec is still not able to provide statistics on how many people turned out at the polling precincts to vote.
At around 9:30 pm, the canvassers went on recess after a slight commotion broke out outside the canvassing area among the board of election inspectors lining up to submit election returns.
Many teachers, who served as poll inspectors, were frustrated about the long line; some complained that they were tired after a long day of conducting the polls.
As of posting, at least 50 election inspectors were still waiting to submit their election returns.
The canvassing of ballots is expected to be completed early Saturday. – Rappler.com
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