The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday, May 19, answered the supposed poll anomalies raised by the International Observer Mission (IOM) in its report about the recently concluded election in the country.
The IOM is sponsored by the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP).
“These Philippine National Elections 2022 were not free and fair. They were marred by a higher level of failure of the electronic voting system than ever before, along with rampant vote-buying, disturbing levels of state and military orchestrated red-tagging of candidates and parties including numerous incidents of deadly violence,” the report stated.
During a press briefing on Thursday, May 19, Comelec Acting Spokesperson John Rex C. Laudiangco answered most of the issues raised by the IOM, but declined to comment on the red-tagging issue as he deemed it as “another issue.”
He noted that there were only 915 vote-counting machines (VCMs) that malfunctioned on Election Day, May 9, noting that they were “readily replaced with contingency or were pulled out for repair and it accounts only for 0.8 percent of the total.”
As to election-related violence, Laudiangco said only 27 incidents have been recorded which have been validated by the Philippine National Police (PNP).
“[T]he confirmed election-related incidents only numbers to 27, significantly lower po sa lahat ng elections na naganap for automated (this is significantly lower compared to the past automated elections). Huwag na po natin isama ‘yung manual dahil mas mataas po iyon (Let’s not even include the manual polls in the past because those have higher number of incidents),” Laudiangco said.
He added: “It’s really significantly lower that’s why the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and the PNP were really confident in stating that the elections were generally peaceful, and these 27 were isolated. In fact, ‘yung 27 po na ‘yan not Election Day po ito, it stretches from Jan. 9 up to the period of election, ganoon kahaba po siya (that’s how low it is).”
On vote-buying activities
As the rampant vote-buying activities in the country were also noted by IOM, Laudiangco said the Comelec created Task Force Kontra Bigay to address vote-buying and vote-selling activities.
“Massive na rin po ‘yung aming info campaign on this, kaya nga po sabi namin, ibinababa na po naming sa tao talaga po kasi ‘yun ang part na hindi kayang solvin ng makina (Our information drive on this is massive that’s why we brought it closer to the people to love this problem that the VCM cannot solve),” Comelec acting spokesperson said.
“Iyong makina po kasi (The VCM is only) up to the voting and counting but the other human factor that is the one we are working on multi-agency,” he added.
He said the poll body has been “more aggressive” to address vote-buying activities, urging the public to cooperate with the poll body to help prosecute people engaging in vote-buying activities.