May 09, 2022, Quezon City. The Legal Network for Truthful Elections continues to observe election irregularities, election offenses, technical issues, and non-technical issues nationwide as Filipinos cast their votes before the closing of polls by 7:00P.M.
In this report, LENTE provides that the violation of health and safety protocols, malfunction of the Vote Counting Machines (VCMs), and Unlawful Electioneering are the most persistent election offenses and election irregularities all throughout the 12-hour monitoring period (5:00A.M. to 5:00P.M.). Moreover, some notable monitoring observations and reports were voters using cellphones in the polling place, and several issues regarding vulnerable sectors voting, particularly the voting in the Emergency Accessible Polling Place (EAPPs).
ON HEALTH AND SAFETY PROTOCOLS AND ISOLATION POLLING PLACE
LENTE monitors continue to observe poor compliance to health protocols such as unmanned triage, no triage set up, lack of health and safety materials (such as foot baths and plastic barriers), and continued neglect of social distancing in voting centers nationwide. As voters continue to flock to the voting centers, LENTE monitors observed that most areas in Regions I, IV-A, IV-B, IX, XII, failed to comply with the minimum health and safety protocols imposed by the COMELEC, IATF-EID / MEID and Local Government Units, such as manning of triage, temperature checks, and physical distancing. LENTE likewise observed that the Electoral Boards allow more than five (5) voters in a polling place to vote simultaneously, all in violation of Article XIII, COMELEC Resolution No. 10727.
For the Isolation Polling Place (IPP), a LENTE monitor reported that a senior citizen in Legarda Elementary School in Sampaloc, Manila, was brought to the IPP due to high temperature (38°C), nausea, and shivers. After being advised to rest in the meantime, her temperature eventually went down and was allowed to proceed to her precinct. As of writing, LENTE received no more reports of voters in the IPP. Meanwhile, some voters mistakenly proceeded to the IPP to inquire about directions to their precincts. LENTE emphasizes the need for clearer signages to be placed in conspicuous areas inside the voting centers to properly guide the voters and to reduce the risk of exposure to Covid-19.
VCM MALFUNCTION AND OTHER TECHNICAL ISSUES
Malfunction of the voting counting machines (VCMs) continues to be a problem in certain polling places nationwide. Specifically, there were instances of VCM malfunction across Metro Manila, Rizal, Pangasinan, Davao City, Davao del Sur, Kalinga, Benguet, La Union, Ilocos Sur, Zamboanga City, Aklan, Cebu and in Palawan.
In addition to VCM malfunctions, paper jams upon insertion in the VCMs slowed down the casting of votes in certain areas, such as in Plaridel Elementary School in Aborlan, Palawan and in Lunzuran Elementary School, Guiwan Elementary School, and Talabaan Elementary School all in Zamboanga City.
An instance of the ballot registering as an error was reported in Brgy. Mameltac in San Fernando, La Union. Mismatched results of the ballots and the voter-verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) also occurred in the Vacunero Day Care Center in Sto. Domingo, Ilocos Sur.
LENTE monitors continue to report instances of unlawful electioneering in the areas of Kalinga, Abra, Apayao, Aklan La Union, Ilocos Sur, Cavite, and the National Capital Region.
Partisan poll watchers were also reported to have assisted voters and acted as COMELEC support staff in the areas of Pio Del Pilar Elementary School, Manila, Rafael Palma Elementary School, and Miriam College in Loyola Heights, Quezon City, and in Bulag Elementary School in Bantay, Ilocos Sur. There were also reported incidences of watchers acting as assistors in Bulag Elementary School, Bantay, Ilocos Sur, Pogo-Lasip Elementary School, Dagupan, Pangasinan as well as Rio Hondo Elementary School, Zamboanga Sibugay and Southcom Elementary School, both in Zamboanga City.
VULNERABLE SECTORS AND THE SITUATION IN THE EAPPS
LENTE monitors continue to observe issues encountered by the vulnerable sectors. In some areas in Bantay, Ilocos Sur, Dagupan, Pangasinan, Zamboanga Sibugay, and Zamboanga City, there appears to be insufficient support staff in EAPPs which contributed to the delay in voting.
Further, the set-ups for EAPPs in Mataas na Paaralan ng Neptali Gonzales, Mauway, Mandaluyong City, Santiago Syjuco Memorial School, Malabon City, and Vergonville Elem School, Las Piñas City were observed to be not conducive to voting of senior citizens or older persons, persons with disabilities, and heavily pregnant women, which resulted in overcrowding and discomfort among them, defeating the purpose of EAPPs.
LENTE also expresses its concern over senior citizens or older persons not being allowed to vote without senior citizens’ ID or proof of age in Santiago Syjuco Memorial School, Malabon, Metro Manila. LENTE reminds the public that proof of identity is not among the requirements in allowing individuals to vote.
NON-TECHNICAL ISSUES DURING THE VOTING PROPER
On non-technical issues, LENTE monitors observe voters in Bangkerohan Elementary School in Zamboanga City using their cellphones inside the polling precinct. The same is observed in Balbalan Central School in Balbalan, Kalinga, Ligao West Central Elementary School, Ligao City, Albay, and Ligao National High School both in Ligao, Albay, Tabaco Northwest Central School in Tabaco City, Albay, and Bangkerohan, Ipil in Zamboanga City, where voters were reported to have taken pictures inside the polling precinct. LENTE urges the public to refrain from using cellphones inside the polling precinct as this is prohibited under Section 66 (f) of COMELEC Resolution No. 10727.