By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Administration senatorial bets were among the early birds to cast their votes for the midterm elections Monday, May 13.
Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) president and reelectionist Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel arrived at the City Central School in his hometown Cagayan de Oro City 10 minutes after the polls opened at 6 a.m.
“Voting was smooth,” Pimentel told reporters in a text message.
Like Pimentel, former presidential political adviser Francis Tolentino also came early around 6:30 a.m. and filled in his ballot at the Francisco P. Tolentino Memorial High School in Tagaytay City, where he was former mayor.
It was around 8 a.m. when former police chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa voted in his polling precinct at the Bato Elementary School in Davao City.
Former special assistant to President Duterte Christopher “Bong” Go, meanwhile, rode his motorcycle to the Buhangin Central Elementary School, also in Davao City, around 8:30 a.m.
He lined up and waited for more than three hours to finally be able to vote around 11:40 a.m.
Aside from the Pimentel, Tolentino, Dela Rosa and Go, Maguindanao Representative Zajid “Dong” Mangudadatu also makes up the PDP-Laban’s “MaBaGo ‘Ko ‘To” slate.
He voted at about 1:40 p.m., as broadcast on his official Facebook page.
Guest candidates of the administration party — reelectionist Senators Cynthia Villar, Sonny Angara, JV Ejercito, Taguig Rep. Pia Cayetano and Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, among others — also voted early.
Pimentel said the PDP-Laban has received complaints over a number of malfunctioning vote-counting machines (VCMs) and SD cards nationwide.
Among the affected areas were 16 barangays in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte, namely Larayan, Napo, Potol, Talisay, Potungan, Taguilon, Masidlakon,Sigayan, San Vicente, San Pedro, Tag ulo, Oro, Dawo, Antipolo, Sto Nino, and Aliguay.
Pimentel said these have been coordinated with concerned election officers and inspectors.
“Too many reports of malfunctioning VCMs nationwide. Hence the question to ask now is: Why did Comelec report that all VCMs passed the diagnostic tests?” said Pimentel, who chairs the joint congressional oversight committee on the automated elections system (JCOC-AES).
PDP-Laban information officer Ron Munsayac, for his part, said they were monitoring and documenting such reports. He said party’s headquarter will be available 24/7 to address complaints from their members.
“As of now, generally the situation seems orderly but we are verifying some reports,” Munsayac told the Manila Bulletin in a text message.
“If there are problems we instructed our watchers to report immediately and if there are violations we will take action with the proper legal remedies,” he said.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) earlier declared the PDP-Laban as the Dominant Majority Party in the May 13 elections.
As the dominant majority party, it would have access to copies of election returns (ERs) from the VCMs, electronically-transmitted precinct results, Certificates of Canvass (COCs); and be able to assign official watchers in every polling place and canvassing center.