Commission on Elections Commissioner Rey Bulay on Monday said he did not threaten the poll body’s critics following his statement last week of having them arrested.
He said his statement was a “warning” to those who plan to induce lawless violence as a response to the results of the May 9 polls, rather than a threat.
Bulay said there is a “world of difference” between criticisms and accusations of electoral fraud.
“What I said was, to those that will comment on lawless violence by inducement, with respect to the results of this election, you will be met with the full force of the law. It’s no threat; it is the truth,” Bulay said.
“I am actually warning people to obey the laws in case they don’t know it. Nowhere in the whole video did I mention the word ‘threat,’” the commissioner added.
Bulay earlier claimed those accusing the Comelec of favoring candidates in the 2022 polls that they could be arrested and jailed.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon blasted Bulay for his statement, reminding him not to be “onion-skinned” because people are only expressing their concerns about the elections.
Meanwhile, the Comelec tried to allay concerns about the “deactivated” status of some voters in its online Precinct Finder and said it would issue a clarification.
In an interview with radio dzBB, Commissioner George Garcia admitted that the Comelec has been receiving such complaints from voters who said they were active voters in previous elections.
“If they experience this, they don’t have to worry. We will clarify all of that,” Garcia said in Filipino.
Garcia noted that it is more important that the names of voters are in the voters’ information sheet, which is the most accurate record of voters for the 2022 elections on May 9.
He said voters who failed to vote in the past two elections, the 2018 barangay elections, and 2019 midterm elections, have been deactivated.
On March 31, the Comelec said it deactivated more than 7 million people who failed to vote in two successive preceding elections as shown in their voting records.
Last week, the Comelec opened its online Precinct Finder to voters, to enable them to find their assigned voting centers or precincts ahead of the May 9 polls.
At the same time, Garcia branded as “fake news” reports that Vice President Leni Robredo’s name was omitted from a ballot in New Zealand.
Garcia said that ballots are printed by batch, so there should be multiple complaints lodged if the allegations were true.
Garcia issued the statement after the Philippine Embassy in New Zealand called on Filipinos claiming to have received ballots without the name of one presidential candidate to immediately return them to the diplomatic post for verification.
A Filipino from New Zealand claimed to have received a ballot where Robredo’s name was omitted from the list of candidates. A photo of the ballot circulated on social media over the weekend.
“Please believe us. That is not true. That’s fake news. Our embassy in New Zealand has made a declaration that they have not received a single complaint from our compatriots there,” Garcia said in an interview over ABS-CBN news.
Garcia heads the poll body’s task force against fake news.
Overseas voting for the 2022 polls began on April 10 and will end on May 9, Election Day in the Philippines.
Garcia explained that when the Comelec print ballots, “we don’t print them individually. We print them by batch. For example, if a batch for New Zealand voters consists of a thousand ballots, then there should be a thousand of our compatriots complaining that a candidate’s name is missing from their ballots.”
“That’s fake news. We have referred a lot of them to the NBI,” he added, referring to the National Bureau of Investigation.
Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said security measures are all set as more than 40,000 police personnel will be deployed for
the May 9 national and local elections
PNP chief Gen. Dionardo Carlos said this figure is still expected to go up next week to boost the security operations for the upcoming polls.
Carlos said more than 16,000 police officers with their mandatory career courses and field training exercises for election duties have been recalled and would serve on election day.
“We will have more police on the ground come D-Day,” Carlos said in a media interview on Monday after the unveiling ceremony of the “PNP Officer” Statue at Camp Crame.
Carlos said they are closely monitoring the situation on the ground ahead of the polls.
Aside from security operations, the PNP is also taking part in the Commission on Election’s effort to prevent vote buying and other illegal poll-related activities.
Meanwhile, PNP Directorate for Operations director, Maj. Gen. Valeriano de Leon said the peace and order situation in Abra is continuously monitored, even if it is no longer under Comelec control.
De Leon, who was also concurrent deputy commander of the National Security Task Force on National and Local Elections, said he instead ordered stricter security measures in the province.
Abra is among the provinces in the Cordillera being closely watched by the police due to a history of poll-related violence.
De Leon said the police commanders have been asked to ensure that there will be no repeat of the incident in Pilar town, wherein the bodyguards of a vice mayor running for reelection engaged the police in a gunfight.
More than 30,000 personnel of the PNP are set to participate in the local absentee voting (LAV) for the 2022 national and local elections
for three days, a PNP official said Monday.
A total of 26,813 cops assigned in police regional offices and 3,248 cops assigned to the national headquarters in Camp Crame will avail the LAV on April 27, 28 and 29, PNP public information office chief Brig. Gen. Roderick Alba said. They may vote on any of these days from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.
The manner of voting for LAV is manual where they have to write down the names of their candidates on the official ballot.
They will be voting for national positions only, one each for president and vice president, 12 senators, and one party-list group.
Under LAV, voters are allowed to vote in places where they are not registered voters but where they are temporarily assigned to perform election duties on election day, or in the case of the media, who will not be able to vote due to the performance of their functions in
covering and reporting on the elections.