May 9, 2022, Quezon City. 4,000 volunteers of the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (“LENTE”) are currently deployed nationwide to monitor the 2022 National and Local Elections. As early as 5:00 a.m., LENTE’s election monitors proceeded to their assigned voting centers to observe the health and safety protocols being implemented, preliminaries to voting, and the opening of polls.
LENTE monitors observed long queues as early as 6:00 A.M. in Jamiat Buladon Al Islamie School, Buldon Central Elementary School, and Kulimpang Elementary School all in Iranun Corridor, Maguindanao, Estancia Elementary School, Balagbag Elementary School and Ogsip Primary School in Aklan, and in Laong Laan Elementary School in District 4, Manila.
There are multiple reports from various monitoring areas that physical distancing is not being followed. There were also reports where there is no triage set up in Bukidnon National High School, Bukidnon, and Baliwasan Senior High School in Zamboanga City. We also received a report that polling places in San Jose Central School and Dr. AP Banez Memorial Elementary School in Tacloban City allowed the entry of 10 voters inside, contrary to the health protocols imposed by COMELEC. Further, the protocol on the contactless application of the indelible ink was not followed in a polling place in Marasbas National High School. LENTE expresses its concern about the non-compliance to health and safety protocols due to the influx of voters and calls on the public to follow the 1-meter social distancing and to wear face masks at all times.
In the first hour of the opening of polls, reports were received regarding technical issues such as the malfunctioning of the voting counting machines (VCMs) and paper jams.
LENTE monitors reported machine paper jams in Sagayaden Elementary School, Don F. Quilala Memorial Elementary School, Bucay Central School, and Cabugao South Central School all in Ilocos Sur, Sagkahan Central School in Tacloban City, Malilipot Central School in Albay, and Catanagan Elementary School in Zamboanga City, which caused the delay in the voting proceeding.
There were also reports of VCM malfunction in 15th Avenue Elementary School and the National Vocational Rehabilitation Center, both in Quezon City, as well as in Edwards Elementary School, Prk. Rizal Elementary School, and Dole Cannery Central Elementary School all in General Santos City.
We call on the COMELEC to provide an update on the total number of VCMs that have broken down and the specific reasons for each of the breakdowns.
Among the non-technical issues reported, a member of the Electoral Board in a regular polling place in San Fernando Central School fed the ballot to the VCM instead of the voter, and voters were not given a ballot secrecy folder in certain precincts at San Jose Central School, Bulacan, Marasbas National High School, Cebu City, and Katangawan Elementary School, General Santos City. LENTE also calls on the Filipino voters to remain patient and steadfast amidst reports of technical and non-technical issues.
LENTE also received reports that there were persons giving sample ballots and campaign flyers, putting up tents reflecting the faces of candidates inside and near the voting center, and other instances of campaigning which constitutes unlawful electioneering. These were reported in Valenzuela Sports Complex in Makati City, Abangansur Elementary School in Marilao, Bulacan, Melchora Aquino Elementary School in Tondo, Manila, Laong Laan Elementary School in District 4, Manila, Hippodromo Elementary School in Cebu City, Cebu, 15th Avenue Elementary School in Quezon City, De La Salle Santiago Zobel School in Muntinlupa, Taysan Elementary School in Legazpi City, Zapatera Elementary School in Cebu City, Malabanias Elementary School, Angeles City, Pampanga, Pareja Elementary School, Butuan City, and Bulag Elementary School, Ilocos Sur, Project 6 Elementary School, Quezon City, and inside the embassy premises of the Philippine Embassy in Madrid. LENTE would like to remind the public that the giving of sample ballots and campaign flyers, the putting up of tents reflecting the faces of candidates inside and near the voting center, and any form of campaigning on election day are all election offenses. Voters are asked to report these offenses to COMELEC as these are prohibited.
LENTE also received reports from its volunteers of shooting incidents in Magsingal, Ilocos Sur and in multiple barangays in Cabugao, Ilocos Sur at around 8:00 P.M. yesterday, May 8 and at 7:00 A.M. today. In Magsingal, Ilocos Sur, the shooting incident happened between supporters of two Mayoral candidates. In Cabugao, Ilocos Sur, the affected barangays are Barangays Sisim, Arnap, Alinaay, Mar-gaay, Aragan, and Salapasap. An altercation with deadly weapons was also reported from Datu Batangan Elementary School Saguiaran, Lanao Del Sur. LENTE expresses its concern about these reports of violence on Election Day as they may instill fear or intimidate voters from exercising their right to vote. LENTE calls on the COMELEC and the PNP to immediately address these incidents to prevent further escalation.
LENTE also asks COMELEC to reinforce that the use of phones, even if utilized as a voter’s “kodigo” inside the polling place, is not allowed. COMELEC earlier stated that the use of phones was strictly not allowed inside the polling place but Commissioner George Garcia’s retraction has created confusion on the matter.
LENTE will continue to closely monitor the conduct of the 2022 National and Local Elections. Election offenses and irregularities may be reported to LENTE volunteers on the ground and to the volunteer lawyers of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) which has set up assistance desks nationwide. The public may also utilize LENTE’s hotlines: 0917 106 6265 (Globe), (02) 7502 1591 (Landline), 0920 266 0944 (Smart). LENTE can also be reached through our social media pages: LENTE Philippines (Facebook) and @LENTE_PH (Twitter).