Comelec reiterates ban in taking pictures of ballots

Published May 14, 2019, 2:12 AM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Jeffrey Damicog

The Commission on Elections reminded the public that they are prohibited from taking pictures of filled-up ballots and receipts.

Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez gave the reminder after receiving reports that some candidates have been urging their supporters to take pictures of ballots or receipts in the event the name of the candidate cannot be found.

“Bawal litratuhan ang filled-up ballots or receipt (It is prohibited to take pictures of filled-up ballots or receipts),” he told reporters during a press conference at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).

“I would not do what is being recommended,” Jimenez advised.

The Comelec Spokesman cited that under the Omnibus Election Code it prohibited to reproduce ballots in any way and the taking of pictures is a form of reproduction.

Among the candidates, PDP-Laban senatorial bet Francis Tolentino posted on his Facebook page on election day advising his supporters to take pictures of ballots where his name does not appear.

He also advised to take pictures of receipts which have discrepancies with their respective ballots.

Meanwhile, a group of petitioners have sought before the Supreme Court (SC) to at least allow digital cameras and mobile phones in voting precincts.

The petition was filed by AES Watch, Mata Sa Balota, Citizens’ Crime Watch, One Vote Our Hope, Buklod Pamilya, Capitol Christian Leadership, Latter Rain Harvest Ministries, Upper Room Brethren Church, and other individual petitioners.

In their petition, the petitioners questioned Comelec’s Resolution No. 10088 issued in 2016 which bans the use of digital cameras and cellular phones in polling precincts.

The petitioners said the ban “has a chilling effect… on every watcher and voter… without specifying the start time and end time of the prohibition.”

They added that the ban “suppresses the right of watchers and members of the public to take photographs of the proceedings and incidents pursuant to the Omnibus Election Code and its amendments.”

The petitioners explained the ban is against the Automated Election Law which allows political parties, candidates or citizen’s arms to examine and test the polling machines to make sure that the system is operating properly.

Citing previous Comelec instructions, the petitioners said the poll body had allowed the taking of photographs of the proceedings and incidents provided that the secrecy and sanctity of votes are protected.