An aunt based in Tacloban told us that on election day this year, her suppliers and all market vendors were closed for the day. No fishermen went out to sea either. Everyone turned out to vote. She also told us that the family of her househelp was able to earn an extra P30,000 on that day from accommodating candidates...
The initial findings of the random manual audit (RMA) of the May 13 elections showed “discrepancies” in some precincts compared with the computer-generated tallies, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said on Tuesday.
Brillantes said the Comelec had received the reports from 167 out of the 234 randomly chosen precincts across the country but could not immediately state the extent of the problem.
“There were discrepancies,” Brillantes said in an interview, adding that the questionable results were being segregated for review.
He said the discrepancies may have been due to the shading of the ballots. The Comelec has decided to have the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines count as votes even the ovals in the ballot paper that were only “20 percent” shaded.
“They know that we had lowered our threshold to 20 percent from 50 percent (in 2010),” Brillantes said.
He said those with 10 discrepancies and below were disregarded while PCOS machines that had more than 10 discrepancies were brought to the Comelec central office in Intramuros, Manila, together with their ballot boxes.
Brillantes could not say how many precincts had registered more than 10 discrepancies, adding that Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, who is handling the RMA, had yet to make an initial report.
Former Ambassador to the Vatican Henrietta de Villa, head of the Comelec random manual audit committee, said many “clerical errors” were uncovered that could not be considered discrepancies.
When asked if these could be considered “discrepancies,” De Villa said: “Not yet. In the sense of the word that there’s a difference between the electronic and the manual count.”
“We cannot say that at this point because these are mostly clerical errors. There are many like that which we have to clean up. That is why we are forwarding this to the NSO (National Statistics Office),” De Villa said.
She said the NSO had reviewed cases of precincts that had “10 or more variances.”
When asked how many of the 234 randomly chosen precincts had “variances,” De Villa said: “There were many. Many.”
But she declined to give an exact figure, saying the committee was still waiting for reports from the field.
“It’s not good to do that since we don’t have all the reports. That could lead to speculation. It won’t be helpful,” De Villa said.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday issued a reminder to the winners of the May 13 polls: File your Statement of Election Contributions and Expenditures (SECE) as soon as possible or you won’t be allowed to assume office on June 30.
The Comelec said the deadline for the filing of the document is June 12.
“No extensions will be granted,” said Comelec spokesman James Jimenez.
In an interview, Jimenez said losing candidates as well, both in the national and local races, were also required to submit SECEs as mandated by Republic Act No. 7166.
The Synchronized National and Local Elections Law stipulates that “no person elected to any public office shall enter upon the duties of his office until he has filed the statement of contributions and expenditures required.”
Failure to submit the document constitutes an administrative offense punishable with a penalty ranging from P1,000 to P30,000 at the discretion of the Comelec.
“In case you’ve forgotten, all candidates in the 2013 elections must submit their SECE within 30 days after the balloting,” said Jimenez.
He also reminded local candidates about a memorandum of agreement with the Department of Interior and Local Government that requires them to present a Comelec certification stating that they had complied with the reporting requirement before they would be administered the oath of office.
The agreement was signed in March last year.
Jimenez said the Comelec would also look into the authenticity of the contents of the SECEs.
According to the law, a candidate belonging to a political party may spend only P3 for every voter registered in their locality, while an independent candidate may spend P5 per voter. A political party may spend P5 for every voter registered in the constituency where it has official candidates.
Earlier, Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim had suggested that minor discrepancies found in the SECEs shouldn’t necessarily constitute an election offense.
But candidates found submitting untruthful statements would be liable for perjury, said Lim. “That’s a criminal case. We will endorse it to the Department of Justice if it is perjury since that is under their jurisdiction,” he said.—Jocelyn R. Uy