PHL elections generally peaceful despite some glitches — military PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 14 May 2013 10:53

With nearly eight hours after the polling precincts opened at 7 a.m. yesterday, the military said the political exercise was thus far “peaceful” and still had to detect any threat that could disrupt the voting process.

The 77,829 polling precincts nationwide will close at 7 p.m., with majority of the 52,014,648 registered voters from Batanes to Tawi Tawi expected to have cast their votes, this time nearly two million voters more than the 2010 registered voters of 50,653,828, according to the Commission on Elections.

Positions to be filled up in Monday’s exercise are: 12 senators; 279 district members of the House of Representatives; 80 provincial governors; 80 vice governors; 766 members of the different Sanggunian Panlalawigan (provincial board members); 138 city and town mayors; 138 city and town vice mayors; 1,532 members of the Sangguniang Panglungsod or Bayan (city or town councils); and 11,972 members of the Sangguniang Panglungsod or Bayan.

Interior Secretary Mar Roxas himself gave assurances the military and the police are on full alert, claiming Monday’s elections “will be safe and fair and will surely reflect the will of the people.”

“Sa halalang ito, tinitiyak po natin na tao ang tunay na panalo at ang boses nila ang mangingibabaw,” Roxas said before he cast his vote in his hometown in Roxas City in Capiz.

Roxas said that as voters troop to the precincts for the election, this is considered as a referendum on President Aquino’s first three years in office.

Aquino’s six-year term expires in 2016.

“Oplan Last Two Weeks”, which Roxas announced on April 30 in the run-up to the election, sent an additional 30,000 Philippine National Police personnel to guard over 36,000 polling precincts nationwide and augment security around vital power installations and communications facilities.

“Ito’y makakadagdag ng personnel para makasiguro tayo na may presenya ang PNP, may presenya ang gobyerno hindi lamang sa mga particular na hotspots pero sa buong bansa,” Roxas said in a statement.

“Makikita, mararamdaman ang presenya ng PNP para makasiguro tayo na tahimik at regular ang ating halalan,” he added.

All these moves are aimed at protecting the vote and voters nationwide and ensuring an uninterrupted transmittal of canvassing results in the automated counting of election returns.

The PNP said it has added to its mobilization 11,758 PNP recruits on schooling in training centers and deployed some 18,000 personnel or 50 percent of the uniformed men and women assigned to administrative duties in their respective offices.

Meanwhile, the private National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFEEL) noted two major problems which confronted voters — the voters’ missing names and congested schools used as polling precincts during elections.

At the same time, NAMFREL reported faulty Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in Legazpi, Albay, Camarines Sur and Libmanan which rejected ballots that caused the delay of the election flow.

NAMFREL also added that ballots which are supposedly for Antique were brought to Romblon which prevented some voters to cast their ballots.

Power interruptions and insufficient electricity supply were reported in Patikul, Sulu that incapacitated the machines to operate and delayed the election up until 8:30 a.m.

“So far okay pa naman. Not unless these problems aren’t big enough we will not call for a special election,” NAMFREL spokesman Damaso Magbual assessed.

“The PNP hopes to surpass this year the achievements made in past elections,” Ontog said in an earlier interview.

He said police have recorded 19 validated election-related incidents (ERIs) as of Friday from 64 cases, which authorities are still investigating. So far, the number was less than the 101 ERIs recorded in elections in 2007 and 93 posted in 2010.

Ontog said this was due to the early preparations undertaken jointly by the DILG and PNP after Roxas launched TF SAFE in November last year.

The police paid special attention to the so-called 15 priority provinces where they concentrated on neutralizing private armed groups (PAGS), facilitating peace covenants between intense political rivals, and intensifying the campaign against loose firearms that may be in the hands of PAGS, criminal and other threat groups.

In cooperation with the Comelec and the Armed Forces, the DILG and PNP set up security checkpoints and joint security control centers in select areas and provided protective security detail to individuals with real threats on their lives.

Roxas said he is confident that with these security plans in place, the public can proceed to exercise their right of suffrage without any fear of reprisal from those out to thwart the will of the electorate.