By Minka Klaudia Tiangco
The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) said the reports that they have been receiving are all “usual problems” encountered during elections and are no cause for alarm.
PPCRV Media Director Agnes Gervacio said most of the reports that they have received pertaining to malfunctioning vote counting machines (VCMs) and voters not finding their names in the election day computerized voters list.
“For the VCMs malfunctioning, it’s the electoral boards who are taking care of that. As per law, they will just make a decision on how it’s done and how it is addressed, and so far, we have been receiving reports that everything is being addressed to the satisfaction of a lot of constituents,” she said.
Meanwhile, PPCRV Executive Director Maribel Buenaobra said the number of VCMs that malfunctioned should not be a source of worry since this is only a small percentage compared to the total number of VCMs used.
“Actually, that’s not alarming. If you listened to sir James Jimenez, 400-600 VCMs malfunctioned since this morning out of 85,000. That’s just about less than 1 percent. That’s not alarming,” she said.
“In 2016, we received a report of 257 malfunctioned VCMs out of 92,000 VCMs,” she added.
Gervacio said this is the first time that officials are “really cracking down” on vote buying so this may have caused the apparent increase of reports on vote-buying incidents.
The poll watchdog official also said social media made it easier for people to report incidents of vote buying.
However, Gervacio said not all the reports coming in are verified, and those involved must undergo due process.
“There should be a process that should be followed in order for us to ascertain that it is really happening. Let’s not kid ourselves here, it’s true that we need a process,” she said.
Gervacio also said that the PPCRV addresses the problem of vote buying with voter’s education.
“We’re very happy that a lot of people are very interested in their voter’s education. I think they are more eager to participate in the elections,” she said.
The PPCRV is an accredited citizen’s arm of the Commission on Elections. About 300,000 volunteers will be deployed to 85,000 polling precincts to conduct poll watching and to man voters’ assistance desks.
Once the polling precincts close, the poll watchdog group will be picking up the copies of the fourth election returns, which they will use to conduct parallel counting of votes at their command center at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila.
A total of 300 volunteers will conduct a parallel count every day.
The command center can run to up to 14 days so volunteers can finish the parallel count, Gervacio said.