Comelec 100% ready for third automated nat’l elections

By , on May 8, 2016

A man casts his vote with the VCM in a mock voting conducted by Comelec.  (Photo from Comelec's official  Twitter account)
A man casts his vote with the VCM in a mock voting conducted by Comelec. (Photo from Comelec’s official Twitter account)

MANILA–The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is 100-percent ready to conduct the third automated national elections in the country on Monday.

According to Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez they are very much prepared to hold a more transparent polls.

“Mas handa ang Comelec ngayon kesa sa ibang halalan ang sabi nga ng chairman (Juan Andres Bautista) namin ang kanyang pangako na ito ang magiging pinakatransparent na halalan sa kasaysayan ng Comelec and very importantly we feel that on Election Day we wil be 100 percent ready to conduct the elections,” he said in an interview at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), which is the venue of the Comelec headquarters for the 2016 polls.

“So far no hitches,” Jimenez added.

He noted that the Final Testing and Sealing (FTS) of the 92,509 units of vote counting machines (VCMs) to be used in the forthcoming polls.

“FTS have been clean across the board. There have been some issues regarding late arrivals etc. but mukha matatapos natin siya within the allotted time which is today. So wala tayo major discrepancies,” he said.

The FTS involves the end-to-end test of the process, from the initialization of the machines, to the voting of 10 people, to the feeding of the accomplished ballots to the VCMs, and until the printing of election returns (ERs).

With this, the poll body official said they expect voters turnout of 75-80 percent of more than 54 million registered voters.

“We are looking at 75 to 80 percent voters participation during Monday’s polls,” he added.

Jimenez also issued last minute reminders to all the voters including to prepare a list of the candidates they will be supporting to make their voting process faster and convenient, make sure that they do not over vote or their votes will not be counted and make sure they fill up properly the ballot.

“We encourage everyone to prepare a list of the people they want to vote kasi mapapabilis ang proseso para sa mga botante. Pangalawa make sure na tama ang pagshade sa balota. Ok mag-abstain, mag undervote pero hindi okay mag-overvote. And the third make sure that you only fill up the ballot properly use the physical paper properly also which means huwag punitin, huwag basain, huwag tupiin at huwag gumamit ng kahit anong panulat malaban doon sa official marker,” he explained.

Five candidates are eyeing the presidency which include Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, Senator Grace Poe, Vice President Jejomar Binay, and former Interior Secretary Manr Roxas II.

There are six candidates for vice president while 50 candidates are running for 12 posts in the Senate; 115 candidates for 59 partylist seats.

For the House of Representives there are a total of 634 candidates vying for 238 seats; 275 candidates for 81 gubernatorial posts and 206 candidates for 81 vice gubernatorial posts.

There are a total of 1,813 candidates for 776 seats in the Sangguniang Panlalawigan; 4, 159 candidates for 1,634 mayoral seats; 3,795 candiates for 1,634 vice mayoral seats; 33, 737 candidates for 13,540 seats for Sangguniang Panglungsod/Pambayan; 4 candidates for the governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; 4 candidates for vice governor of ARMM; 68 candidates are fighting for 24 seats for the ARMM Regional Assembly.

Under the Philippine Constitution’s Article IX-C, Section 2, the Comelec is in charge of conducting elections in the Philippines. Comelec enforces all laws and regulations relative to the conduct of an election.

A few days before the elections, Bautista said that “credible elections should not only be honest, but also perceived to be honest by the majority of the citizenry.”

Over 92,000 Vote Counting Machines (VCMs) and election paraphernalia have been delivered by technology provider Smartmatic before May 9. Hardware Acceptance Tests, Pre-election Logical Accuracy Tests, local and independent source code reviews were completed.

On Election Day, Comelec’s Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) and Election Officers will be operating the VCMs in the polling centers. Canvassing and consolidation of votes will be conducted by the Board of Canvassers in each municipality, city, district and province. For senators and party-lists, Comelec will act as the National Board of Canvassers.

Meanwhile, Congress and Senate will act as the National Board of Canvassers to consolidate the country-wide votes and proclaim the winners for President and Vice-President.

To ensure that technical incidents are addressed immediately during Election Day, Smartmatic will provide support through its National Technical Support Center (NTSC)—a call center set up to guide and assist BEIs in handling and solving technical incidents with the VCMs and the CCS.