Less than 50% voter turnout in some voting centers observed during the March 13 Palawan plebiscite -- Namfrel

The National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) has observed less than 50 percent voter turnout in some voting centers during the March 13 Palawan Plebiscite.


"Namfrel observers -- who are registered voters in the municipalities where they are observing, as required by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) -- estimated that voter turnout was at less than 50 percent in some voting centers compared with the usual turnout in regular elections, but in some voting centers, turnout reached about 70 percent," the group said in a statement on Saturday, March 13.

"Observers noted the low turnout of voters at the start of voting, but as the day progressed and the weather cleared, more voters turned up," added Namfrel.

The citizens' arm of the Comelec also observed that the voting went on smoothly and counting started on time, with no delays and disturbances.

Namfrel said the Comelec's anti-coronavirus disease (COVID-19) protocols were enforced and adhered to.

"In at least one voting center in Taytay town, people with no face mask or face shield were not allowed entry. However, in Coron and Narra towns, Namfrel observers in some voting centers reported that the Comelec or the school principal provided face masks and face shields to those who came without them," the poll watchdog group said.

"In voting centers with Isolation Polling Places (IPPs), observers noted that only a few voters used them, because only a few, or no voters with a temperature of more than 37.5C, turned up at the voting center," added Namfrel.

The poll watchdog group noted that some voters in Taytay, Narra, and Bataraza towns told observers that they prefer the manual system of counting because they could see and hear the votes as they were being read and tallied, and that they are confident that their votes were being counted correctly.

It observed that most polling places in the voting centers have finished the counting process as early as 6 p.m., and have started delivering their ballot boxes and other election paraphernalia to their respective municipal canvassing centers.

Namfrel vowed to continuously monitor the canvassing process at the municipal and provincial levels.