MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday, March 8, unanimously required the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to issue voting receipts for the May 9 national and local polls.
“The Commission on Elections is ordered to enable the vote verification feature of the vote-counting machines (VCMs), which prints the voter’s choices,” the SC said.
The SC voted 14-0 to grant the petition of senatorial candidate Richard Gordon and his political party, Bagumbayan, to require the Comelec to issue voting receipts.
The high court said this decision is “without prejudice to the issuance of guidelines to regulate the release and disposal of the issued receipts to ensure a clean, honest, and orderly elections.”
The SC said possible guidelines will ensure “that after voter verification, receipts should be deposited in a separate ballot box and not taken out of the precinct.”
Gordon welcomed the SC ruling, saying, "Democracy, transparency won today."
He added that the decision is also "a victory for the millions of Filipino voters because this feature will help ensure clean, honest and credible elections." With the issuance of ballot receipts, Gordon said, "voters will have an assurance that their ballots were properly processed by the VCMs and that their votes were correctly credited to the candidates of their choice."
Used for vote-buying?
Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista is expected to issue a statement Tuesday afternoon.
The Comelec earlier voted 7-0 against issuing voting receipts. The poll body said receipts can be used in vote-buying and can also lengthen the time for voting. (READ: EXPLAINER: Why it’s alright not to have voting receipts)
Two previous batches of Comelec members also voted 7-0 against issuing voting receipts, former elections chief Sixto Brillantes Jr said.
The poll body, however, approved the on-screen verification of votes. Through this feature, VCMs will display each person’s votes on the monitor for 15 seconds at most.
The Comelec said on-screen verification will ensure transparency in the May 9 elections, but critics said this is not enough. – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.