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Gabay-Halalan notes same old polling problems

May 14, 2007 7:16pm
Media coverage of the 2007 national elections showed how the usual incidents prevented the smooth flow of voting in several areas. Whether those incidents happened by design, accident, or incompetence is something the Commission on Elections will have to sort out, hopefully in the next few days.

On Monday, the Gabay-Halalan call center, one of the groups involved in the Volunteers for Clean Elections, gave a list of polling precinct incidents to GMANews.TV. Though unverified, the incidents offer a rough sketch of the situation on Monday.

Last-minute campaigning

Some candidates made a last-ditch attempt to sway voters, or at least their supporters did so on their behalf — by handing out campaign materials to voters in front of polling precincts, in violation of election laws. Or possibly, it was their political rivals who were behind the distribution in a ploy to discredit them.

The Gabay-Halalan list cites four such incidents — one in front of Miriam College in Quezon City and three in Sampaloc, Manila.

In one of these Manila incidents, some people were seen giving away campaign materials in front of the Albert Elementary School. In another incident, some people were even bolder — sticking posters in front of the Epifanio de los Santos Elementary School.

Money talks

Other candidates, perhaps thinking that leaflets wouldn't be very persuasive, resorted to outright vote-buying — and there were several in the Gabay-Halalan list:

• In Camarines Sur, several mayoralty bets in several towns were reportedly giving away P100 to P500 to each voter.

• In San Mateo, Rizal, a mayoralty bet is reportedly giving away P200 to each voter.

• In Caloocan, a barangay official is reportedly giving away P300 per vote on behalf of a congressional candidate.

• In Taguig, candidates for the House, mayor, and vice mayor were reportedly buying votes, amount unspecified, and giving away T-shirts.

If you can't buy them...

If money wouldn't talk to some voters, then some candidates decided that a show of muscle would:

• In Baliwag, Bulacan, candidates for mayor and vice mayor tried to prevent 200 to 300 people from voting, presumably because they were in favor of their rivals, by herding them to resort at around 7 a.m., the start of voting.

• In three towns in Lanao del Norte, three ballot boxes were reported stolen from the provincial office. The towns also had brownouts, and pro-administration candidates were reportedly preventing opposition bets from entering certain areas.

• In Danglat, Abra, unspecified "threats and hostility" were reported. "Residents are afraid and very much concerned," the Gabay-Halalan list said.

Clerical chaos

Inside some voting precincts, confusion prevailed.

Some voters couldn't vote right away because the precinct was still closed, as was reportedly the case with precinct 0214 B in Biñan, Laguna, which as of 10 a.m. remained closed.

As usual, many of the voters couldn't find their names in their precincts. In Poblacion, Makati, for instance, a woman couldn't find her name in the voters' list, although the rest of her relatives' names were there. In Navatos, a similar case happened in which a man is registered, but his wife couldn't find her name in the list.

Or worse, voters couldn't find the precincts where they were supposed to vote, as was the case in Marulas Central School in Bulacan.

In that school, there was "no voting process," as the Gabay-Halalan entry put it. "Hindi sila humihingi ng ID car — kayo nag-volunteer. Hindi in-allow ang voter to drop her ballot in ballot box. Hindi nilagyan ng ink ang finger."

Over in Greenhills, San Juan, a certain Chris found his name in two lists, the current registration and the deactivated lists, which prompted a Comelec representative to say that he could not vote.

If the government has its overseas absentee voting, which showed a low turnout, some candidates have their beyond-the-grave absentee voting — which allowed even the dead to vote.

In Mali Elementary School — the list doesn't say where — relatives of a certain Claro Barretto were still listed as voters — two of whom had died two years ago and another in 1999.

Missing lists

Are some candidates relying on the saying "out of sight, out of mind"?

The Gabay-Halalan list showed several instances in which certain names were missing from certain precincts:

• At the SM Guerrero Elementary School in Paco, Manila, there was reportedly no official list of mayors, vice mayors, and councilors.

• At the Felix Elementary School in Taytay, Rizal, all precincts reportedly had the some pages missing from the list of official candidates. The list was said to start on page 29.

• At Precinct 159-A in Barangay Mayamot Elementary Schoo in Antipolo, Gabay-Halalan noted: "There is a list of party-list groups, but it seems that those party-list representing views contrary to the administration are deliberately excluded from list."

• in Precinct 0753B in the second district of Makati, there was reportedly no party-list information in the ballot secrecy folders.

Strange incident

Even precinct officials are not spared from trouble.

A Mrs. Fernandez, chairman of Precinct 3236B at the Tandang Sora Elementary School in Quezon City, found that someone else had collected her salary on her behalf, but without her knowing about it.

Someone else presented proof of identification a "letter of appointment" as chairman to the Comelec officer in charge of her area. The imposter collected P1,800. ALEXANDER T. MAGNO, GMANews.TV