As an excellent sign of swift electoral process, the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines deployed in Misamis Oriental are reported to be successful though having encountered minor problems.
In a press conference, Fr. Nathan Lirio of the Philippine Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) said, “I could say that the machines in Misamis Oriental are operating, although naay may mga nag-bog down, pero it is all answered” (I could say that the machines in Misamis Oriental are operating although there are some units that bogged down, but it is all answered).
“Walay incident nga na-stop gyud ang voting because of the failure of the machine. It is a good sign” (There is no incident that the voting really stopped because of the failure of the machine. It is a good sign), he added.
However, the suspicions on the election failures do not end with PCOS machines validating the ballot votes.
Most voters complained the slow, long line before one could fill up a ballot. Added to that was the repetitive failures of the PCOS machines to validate the ballots. The machine would discharge the inserted ballot if it fails to read the votes.
“Ang problema lang nato kay basin dili makabutar tanan” (Our only problem is if not all could vote), said Fr. Lirio, implicating on the slow voting system.
The anticipated voting process should have ended before the sun sets; yet, the Commission on Elections had already issued an extension up to 7:00 pm cut-off for voting registrations.
“But voting will go on as long as voters are still there within 30 meters radius,” said Atty. Maria Dulce Cuevas-Banzon, Assistant Election Regional Director of Comelec in region 10.
It means that as long as the voters are still waiting for their turn to cast their votes, rest assured that the precinct would not close until the last person validated his or her ballot.
As of meantime reports, the progress had been at merely 70% voter turnout in the province.
Basic Ecclesial Community (BEC) Executive Secretary Msgr. Elmer Abacahin of the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) commented on the sluggish progress. “Hinay pa sa bao” (slower than the turtle), he said.
He emphasized that the attention was more focused on the accounting process; on the other hand, the provision of the preparation alone was out of anticipation.
As he shared it took him six (6) minutes to finish the ballot with careful marking of the tiny ovals. However, he waited two (2) hours to get one. Worse, when an old woman’s ballot kept being discharged as it had 17 marked ovals for senators.
Added to the slow voting system was hunch of the transmission of votes to for major counting which would affect the credibility of votes.
Comelec and PPCRV also cleared possible manual counting issue.
“The purpose of manual counting is to measure the accuracy of the machines,” said Fr. Lirio, supposing if there will be.
Atty. Banzon added that they have already formed the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI’s) to administer the manual counting. But its purpose is unlike PPCRV’s anticipation, however, it would serve as unofficial, random vote count to serve preliminary election results.
For random manual counting, they tasked the Random Manual Audit Team (RMAT) as liable.
There has also been intuition of a protest that would take place just to create confusion of the result.
“Any reason could be used as an issue,” said Msgr. Abacahin.
But the Comelec is ready to face any possible outcome.
This year’s election supposed the start of the hopeful change. It was also the first automated election with speculation of shifting the political and economic course of the country. (XU BS DevCom/PIA)