By Dwight de Leon in Manila
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) says it is investigating a viral video which purportedly showed men in police uniform tearing up automated ballots inside a classroom.
The poll body has also yet to verify where the tearing of ballots in the video took place, but the viral post on Facebook indicated the incident took place in Cotabato City.
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Personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) served as electoral board (EB) members in the city on Monday, May 9, after teachers who were supposed to man the polls backed out due to fears for their safety, the Comelec previously said.
Commissioner George Garcia welcomed criticism of how Comelec handled the vote in the wake of demonstrations outside the election agency’s headquarters in Intramuros, Manila, yesterday amid allegations of election fraud and automated ballot rigging.
“That’s okay. The Comelec cannot be onion-skinned. That is why we are facing the public and explaining to them,” Garcia said today.
“The public’s condemnation is welcome, we should accept it.”
The Comelec said it had sought the assistance of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) regarding the police ballot papers allegation.
“One indication is, although this report has yet to be vetted, maybe what happened was, they were tearing the unused ballots, but perhaps, those were spoiled ballots,” acting Comelec spokesman John Rex Laudiangco said in Filipino at a press briefing.
“This will be investigated thoroughly and we will be very transparent,” he added.
Commissioner Garcia also gave the police the benefit of the doubt.
“We cannot accuse yet the PNP, it’s so unfair. Maybe that’s not their people,” he said.
Under Comelec Resolution No. 10727, electoral boards are required to tear unused ballots in half, lengthwise, after voting, and place the two halves in separate envelopes.
One envelope will be submitted to the election officer for safekeeping, and another envelope will be deposited inside a ballot box.
Republic Act No. 10756 or the Election Service Reform Act also allows the police to “render election service as a last resort” in areas where the peace and order situation raises the need to do so.
Dwight de Leon is a Rappler reporter. Republished with permission.