Almost 700 Secure Digital (SD) cards to be used in tomorrow’s midterm polls were found to be corrupted, the Commission on Elections has admitted.
The admission coincided with declarations by the Philippine National Police that while security measures set up were effective, there had been an observed rise in vote-buying incidents in different parts.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez disclosed that as of 6 p.m. Friday, some 686 SD cards were found to be corrupted during the Final Testing and Sealing of vote counting machines.
Jimenez noted there were 85,769 SD cards with the same number of back-up cards.
“Contingency SD cards allocated per regional technical hub (RTH) (amount to) 125 per RTH,” he said in a statement.
The poll body official, meanwhile, said it was good they were seeing this problem now, noting that “this is the actual purpose of the FTS.”
Jimenez said they had addressed the problem by deploying replacement SD cards.
“We respond by preparing replacement cards, which are then swapped for the corrupted SD cards. We don’t issue out new SD cards unless we get the corrupted SD cards in return,” he said in a separate interview.
In the 2010 polls, the compact flash cards of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines were found to have been misconfigured, also during the FTS.
The Comelec and its service provider, Smartmatic—Total Information Management (TIM) Corp. immediately replaced all the estimated 76,000 CF cards nationwide with just a week left before Election Day.
The Board of Election Inspectors started the conduct of the FTS this week.
The process involves the initialization of the machines, the voting, the feeding of the accomplished ballots to the VCMs, until the printing of election returns.
After the FTS, the VCMs will be sealed and locked and will only be opened on Election Day.
In related incidents:
• The decline in election-related incidents means security measures in place are effective, but the rise in vote buying is a cause for concern, PNP said Saturday.
Philippine National Police spokesperson Col. Bernard Banac said in an interview on Super Radyo dzBB, heard nationwide, some candidates shifted their concentration to buying votes instead of using violence to defeat their opponents.
With the rise in vote-buying incidents, Banac said the PNP had formed around 100 tracker teams nationwide to address complaints against vote buying.
• The National Capital Region Police Office and the five police districts are all set, ready and on full alert status to ensure a safe, orderly and credible midterm elections in Metro Manila.
“This is not just in polling centers or canvassing areas but also to maintain our anti-criminality efforts. There’s no room to be complacent, the criminal elements might strike anytime,“ said Metro Manila police director Guillermo Eleazar.
This developed as the NCRPO reported vote-buying activities in the cities of Malabon and Muntinlupa.
Along Governor Pascual Avenue Barangay Concepcion in Malabon, police arrested Joel Adoza, 48, who was seen receiving a bundle of envelopes from an unidentified person on board a gray Toyota Vios.
Recovered from his possession were 17 pieces of a small envelope containing P300 cash, 15 pieces of unsigned acknowledgment receipts with the name of a candidate for councilor and a list of voters beneficiaries.
In Muntinlupa, authorities also arrested 17 individuals for alleged vote-buying activities inside Minerva Compound, along National Road in Barangay Putatan late Friday night.
Recovered from them were 17 pieces letter envelope containing P500 each; 122 letter envelopes containing P300 each, list of voters with their address and precinct numbers, sample ballots, and details of the amount of cash distributions.
Eleazar ordered his men to arrest and prosecute those committing election offenses.
“Arrest those who violate the Election code, charge them and pursue their cases in court—that is my order to all our police officers. As such, I am requesting all candidates and stakeholders in this coming elections to exercise prudence and fair play,” he said.
• Voters may now be able to know the polling precincts where they will vote for tomorrow’s mid-term elections.
The Department of Information and Communications Technology announced on Friday that the public may access the Precinct Finder through its website www.gov.ph/web/precinctfinder to confirm their voter status, as well as the location of their voting precincts, by filling up the required field items—first name, middle name, last name, and address.
The website also contains options for voters who would not be able to locate their polling precincts due to certain circumstances.
“We encourage voters to visit the Precinct Finder website in order to confirm their voter status and the location of the voting precinct before they vote on May 13 (Election Day),” DICT Acting Secretary and Commission on Elections Advisory Council Chairperson Eliseo Rio Jr. said in a statement.
• Two Commission on Elections commissioners have expressed reservations over the poll body’s decision to name the Nacionalista Party as the dominant minority party.
The Comelec earlier named President Rodrigo Duterte’s PDP-Laban as the dominant majority party while the Villar-led Nacionalista Party was tagged as the dominant minority in this year’s polls, drawing criticism from the opposition Liberal Party.
“The Dominant Minority Party should logically come from the minority, that is, a party that belongs to those that stand opposite the majority,” Comelec Commissioner Luie Tito Guia said in a memorandum dated May 8.
“With the current polarized political climate, it is not hard to divine which group belongs to the majority and the minority,” he said.
Under the Omnibus Election Code, the Dominant Majority and Minority Parties are guaranteed to each receive copies of the election returns and certificates of canvass. All other parties will have to share
access to election returns and certificates of canvass.
Earlier, the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commissioner announced it is processing 15 reports of vote buying activities which reportedly occurred in Pasay, Manila, Muntinlupa, Misamis Occidental, and in Santiago City, Isabela,
Vote-buying is punishable by a prison term of one to six years, disqualification to hold public office and deprivation of the right to vote.
Eleazar had ordered the deployment of 16,000 uniformed policemen and the cancellation of all leaves “except for those that are emergency in nature, to assure a hundred percent attendance in different offices or stations.”
Th NCRPO chief also confirmed that all 8,298 vote counting machines (VCM) to be used in Metro Manila were already delivered in 723 polling centers.
“Moreover, the final testing and sealing of VCMs have been done, while the official ballots were already transported from the National Printing Office to the City Treasurer’s Office,” he said.
As part of the “Oplan Baklas” program, Commission on Elections officers, with the assistance of the NCRPO, have removed a total 470,806 campaign posters in places outside designated areas.
Police also confiscated at least 655 firearms and nabbed a total of 1,146 since they started implementing the gun ban in Metro Manila.
The authorities also arrested 39 persons in checkpoints while another 1,107 persons were caught in other police operations.
Eleazar reminded Metro Manila residents about the liquor ban effective from 12:01 am of May 12 until 12 midnight of May 13.
He said selling, furnishing, offering, buying, serving, or taking intoxicating liquor was prohibited and violators will be apprehended.