No Failure Of Elections In E. Visayas Despite ‘Problems’

The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Monday said there was “no failure of elections” anywhere in Eastern Visayas despite several hours of delay in voting in some far-flung villages in Northern Samar and Samar provinces.

“The mid-term elections is generally peaceful as the Comelec, police, and army managed to address all concerns to ensure peaceful and orderly elections,” Col. Ma. Bella Rentuaya, PNP Eastern Visayas regional spokesperson, said in a text message.

Election Day was met by reports of Vote Counting Machines (VCM) glitches, violence, and massive vote buying.

PNP reported at least three people were killed in separate shooting incidents in Tagapul-an, Samar; Sta. Margarita, Samar; and Leyte, Leyte. Authorities have yet to find out if these are election-related violence.

Meanwhile, out of the 5,503 VCMs used in the region on Monday, only 65 have malfunctioned, according to reports from city and municipal police stations.

These VCMs with glitches were reported in the towns of Hindang, Pastrana, Javier, Abuyog, Alangalang, Kananga, Dulag, Capoocan, Albuera, Merida, Matag-ob, Mahaplag, Villaba, Tabontabon, and Ormoc City in Leyte.

Malfunctioning machines were also noted in Bontoc, Pintuyan, Padre Burgos in Southern Leyte; Cabucgayan, Caibiran, Culaba, Naval, and Kawayan in Biliran; Marabut and Jiabong in Samar; Balangiga, Lawaan, Taft, Salcedo, San Policapo in Eastern Samar; and Catubig, Gamay, Laoang, and Bobon in Northern Samar.

“I think one of the reasons why these VCMs malfunctioned is the very hot weather in many areas. To cool down the machines, the Board of Election Inspectors have to use electric fans or turn off the machines for few minutes,” said Rafael Olaño, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Eastern Visayas regional director.

The state weather bureau recorded higher heat index in the region: Borongan, Eastern Samar at 41.8 degrees Celsius; Catarman, Northern Samar at 42.3 degrees Celsius; Catbalogan, Samar at 46.7 degrees Celsius; Guiuan, Eastern Samar at 46.8 degrees Celsius; and Maasin, Southern Leyte at 43.9 degrees Celsius; and Tacloban, Leyteat 40.8 degrees Celsius.

Technical people were sent to curb technical glitches while some machines were replaced with contingency VCMs.

The Comelec also received reports of massive vote buying in several areas with each voter being offered amounts ranging from PHP20 to PHP5,000. The amount varies depending on the elective position and intensity of political rivalries in an area.

As of Monday noon, the Comelec field offices in the region received 6 formal vote buying complaints.

About 3.01 million voters trooped to 3,503 clustered precincts in six provinces of the region on Monday’s midterm polls to elect senators, partylist, members of Houses of Representatives and local government officials. (PNA)

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