Comelec: We can’t fix wrong ballots

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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(UPDATED) Voters in Baguio and Compostela Valley have effectively been disenfranchised, says poll chief Sixto Brillantes Jr

NO VOTING. Voters in two precincts end up 'effectively disenfranchised.' File photo by John Javellana

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) confirmed it has “effectively disenfranchised” voters in at least two precincts on Monday, May 13, after a case of wrongly delivered ballots.

In a press conference, Comelec chair Sixto Brillantes Jr said two precincts – located in Baguio City and Compostela Valley – will lose their right to vote because of the incident. 

“There is no way that we can bring Compostela ballots to Baguio City within the day. There is no way we can exchange. But this involves only one particular precinct, and therefore it should not affect elections both in Compostela and Baguio,” Brillantes said.

He added it will cost the Comelec around P5 million to correct the problem. He said because of this, voters in these precincts have ended up “effectively disenfranchised.” (Watch more in the video below.)

 

Brillantes said the Comelec will not hold special elections “unless the votes in Baguio or in Compostela (are) so close that one particular precinct can adversely affect these votes.”

What if critics cite a possible violation of the human right to suffrage? “Eh ‘di pumunta sila sa UN,” Brillantes replied, alluding to a case filed by election watchdogs against the Comelec before the United Nations. (Then let them go the UN.)

The wrong delivery of Compostela Valley’s ballots to Baguio City led to confusion and stopped the voting in these areas on Monday. (Read: Wrong ballots lead precincts to stop polls)

Failure of polls?

In an earlier interview, Comelec denied reports on Monday morning that elections failed in areas like Baguio City, saying it is too early to declare this. (Read: Comelec denies ‘failure of polls’ in areas.)

The Comelec will discuss this matter in an en banc meeting later on Monday.

“That’s too early. I don’t think so. It’s too early to declare a failure at this time,” said Comelec commissioner Lucenito Tagle in an interview with Rappler. (Watch more in the video below.)

Based on various reports around noon on Monday, local officers have declared a failure of elections in certain precincts in Baguio City and Maguindanao.

Tagle, however, said only the Comelec en banc can declare a failure of elections. The commission does this only under “worst scenarios,” such as a sabotage on ballot-counting machines and massive disenfranchisement of voters.

The commission had declared this in certain Mindanao precincts in the past, Tagle said.

Tagle said this means local officers who declared the failure violated the Comelec’s rules. – Rappler.com


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Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior multimedia reporter covering religion for Rappler. He also teaches journalism at the University of Santo Tomas. For story ideas or feedback, email pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.