Poll cheating to be prosecuted to ‘fullest extent of the law’ – Palace

Published May 10, 2019, 4:52 PM

by AJ Siytangco

By Genalyn Kabiling

The government has warned those plotting to cheat in the May 13 elections to abandon “sinister plans,” saying lawbreakers will be prosecuted to the “fullest extent of the law.”

With the government ready to ensure peaceful and orderly midterm elections, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the administration will not tolerate any poll irregularity and has placed measures to find out if any fraud occurred.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo

Any hindrance or manipulation of the right to vote will be considered “a lethal attack against the very heart of our country’s democracy,” according to Panelo.

“The President has put in place measures designed to determine if cheating has been committed in the polls. We are thus issuing a stern warning to those who have sinister plans and evil machinations of thwarting the will of the electorate to abandon them,” he said.

“Any violator will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. No one will be spared regardless of their political affiliation or station in life,” he said.

Panelo also called on the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to ensure the “integrity of the ballots.”  He said the poll body must perform its constitutional duty “as the sentinel of the elections.”

“Any form of cheating committed by the electoral body’s personnel or contractor (Smartmatic) will not to be tolerated by this Administration,” he said.

The latest Palace statement came after learning about the concerns and apprehensions raised by some concerned sectors on the conduct of the coming elections.

The government, meantime, is “all set” for the midterm elections this coming Monday, citing security preparations and stable power situation.

“The Philippines under the Administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte will have its first national midterm elections. We enjoin all Filipinos who are eligible to vote to participate in this healthy democratic exercise,” he said.

Panelo also appealed to candidates to ask their supporters to observe honest, orderly, peaceful and credible elections that will be “reflective of the people’s genuine will.”

He acknowledged that the right to vote is the strongest action a person can perform in a democratic society.  The election period is the only time the rich and poor voters, as well as the powerful and the weak, have “equal value on the weighing scale,” he added.

On poll preparations, around 36,000 schools are now ready to be used as polling precincts while 230,000 teachers have been tapped to serve members of the Electoral Boards and technical support for Monday’s elections, Panelo said.

At least 150,000 policemen would also be deployed to various parts of the country to ensure public safety and security on Election Day.

He noted that the Philippine National Police (PNP) has launched the National Election Monitoring Action Center to monitor situations in all polling centers from Camp Crame, including the arrival of vote counting machines (VCMs), counting of ballots, and delivery of ballot boxes.

He said the Department of Energy (DOE) has assured the public about the stable power supply on election day. He noted that the power situation was of paramount concern as electricity is required in the automated voting system. #MatalinongBoto2019