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Glitches cause delays in first automated polls nationwide

May 10, 2010 11:23am
Voters formed long queues in thousands of precincts nationwide as the country’s first automated polls opened Monday, with some areas reporting glitches in the operation of the Precinct Count Optical Scan machines and sporadic incidents of violence reported in a few provinces.

Among those affected by the computer glitches was Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III, the front runner in pre-election preference surveys for the nine-way presidential race. Voting was delayed in a precinct at the Central Azucarrera de Tarlac Elementary School in Tarlac City where he was scheduled to cast his vote after the PCOS stopped functioning in the middle of reading a ballot.

Aquino held a press conference in the wake of the glitch. Election lawyer Luie Guia told GMA News that holding the press briefing is allowed as long as it is newsworthy and other candidates are given the same opportunities.

In Caloocan City, voting was also delayed as the box of ballots delivered to clustered precinct 599 in the city's Pajo district contained ballots for a clustered precinct in Sampaloc in Manila.

Hundreds wait for their turn at a precinct in Davao City on Monday. In this precint, Board of Election Inspectors only allow 10 voters to vote per batch, causing long lines outside. Keith Bacongo


Helen Filomeno, a member of the Board of Election Inspectors, said the box containing the ballots arrived about 5 a.m. but they were only able to inspect it when the precinct opened at 7 a.m.

At the Guadalupe Viejo Elementary School in Makati, there was general confusion at the start of the voting due to a numbering system that did not quite work out. At one point, voters and volunteers began shouting at each other angrily but the situation was soon sorted out and voting proceeded smoothly starting 8 a.m.

The quadrangle at the Guadalupe Viejo Elementary School in Makati is full even before polls open at 7 a.m. on Monday. Melay Lapeña


At clustered precinct no. 326 in the school, voting began twenty minutes late when the PCOS machine shut down after it was first tested, according to poll watchers. After restarting, the machine started to work smoothly.

First precinct to open

The first precinct to officially open its doors to the Filipino voters was the Bagong Pook Elementary School in Sta. Maria, Laguna, according to Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal of the Commission on Elections (Comelec). He said voting there began at exactly 7 a.m.

Meanwhile, Smartmatic Asia president Cesar Flores said initial reports received by the poll body were "encouraging."

"Thousands of people have already cast their votes so that's very encouraging. The president just cast her vote... we're very happy with the development," Flores told reporters.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo cast her vote in her hometown in Lubao, Pampanga, where she is running for a congressional seat against Adonis Simpao of the Liberal Party. She was accompanied by her son, Rep. Juan Miguel "Mikey" Arroyo.

Elsewhere across the country, GMA News reported that many candidates were able to cast their votes without any problem. Among those who voted early were presidential candidates Gilberto Teodoro Jr. of Lakas-Kampi- CMD in Tarlac, Bro. Eddie Villanueva of Bangon Pilipinas in Bulacan, JC de los Reyes of Ang Kapatiran in Olongapo City, and Aquino’s running mate Manuel Roxas III in Roxas City.

A Board of Election Inspector assists an elderly couple in Davao City as they cast their votes. Keith Bacongo


Poll violence

Earlier in the day, Philippine National Police chief Director General Jesus Verzosa vowed to keep Monday’s elections orderly amid a culture of violence that has long tainted Philippine elections.

“We remain your servants and protectors, loyal only to our Constiution and with the best interests of the people foremost in our hearts and minds," said Verzosa.

According to police records, the latest tally of election-related violent incidents stands at 82, with 27 people killed and 40 others wounded. Six people died in separate incidents of poll-related violence in Isabela province and Zamboanga Sibugay on Sunday evening and early Monday morning.

Provincial police director Senior Supt. Jimmy Rivera said three supporters of Palanan town Mayor and reelectionist Angelo Bernardo were killed when armed men staged an ambush about 10 p.m. on Sunday.

“The perpetrators are allegedly supporters of a rival candidate, a certain former Judge Salazar, who is also a former mayor of Palanan," said Rivera.

At about 2 a.m. on Monday, three supporters of a mayoralty candidate of RT Lim town in Zamboanga Sibugay in southern Philippines died in an encounter with policemen who were manning a checkpoint. Police chief Senior Superintendent Federico Castro said the mayoralty bet’s supporters opened fire first. - With staff reports/YA, GMANews.TV



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