President Rodrigo Duterte has acknowledged the possibility that not all his preferred candidates would win the 12 senatorial spots in the upcoming elections on Monday.
After endorsing to the public the candidates he supports during a campaign rally in Bohol late Wednesday evening, the President said “the law of averages” worked against a sweep by his senatorial picks.
But he again advised voters to “think hard” before supporting opposition candidates.
“Think hard and sleep on it tonight. It’s just around the corner,” Duterte said after slamming the opposition Otso Diretso again in his speech.
“Look at Otso Diretso. You’ve seen them and you know how they perform,” Duterte said, accusing the opposition of using black propaganda against his administration.
He singled out former Interior secretary Manuel Roxas II for criticism.
“I will not try to convince you that what he did is great. I will just share my sentiments about him. It’s my personal opinion. If you don’t believe me, fine. It’s not a problem,” he said.
Duterte said Roxas acts “like a senyorito” in public while “the fool is very arrogant” in private.
“There are people who have weak principles just like Mar. Why should I even be surprised?” he said.
“You do not need Mar Roxas in your life, ladies and gentleman. I’m telling you. You don’t need him,” he added.
The President endorses the senatorial bids of former Philippine National Police chief Ronald dela Rosa, his former assistant, Christopher Go, former political adviser Francis Tolentino, Maguindanao 2nd District Rep. Zajid Mangudadatu, and reelectionist Senator Aquilino Pimentel III.
He also campaigns for folk singer Freddie Aguilar, re-electionist Senators Juan Edgardo Angara, JV Ejercito, and Cynthia Villar, Taguig City Rep. Pia Cayetano, and Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos.
The President vowed to deliver peaceful elections this year and reminded all candidates not to resort to violence and let the people exercise their right to vote freely.
He also ordered members of the Armed Forces and the police to remain neutral during the campaign period and election.
Hours before attending the campaign in Bohol, Duterte said he dropped by Negros Occidental to confront a local chief executive suspected of creating a ruckus.
“Well, there’s a certain mayor that’s really the suspect of everybody. So, I confronted the mayor. I talked to him,” he said, without mentioning the mayor’s name.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the country’s armed forces have prepared themselves for the elections.
“The military and police are prepared,” Lorenzana said.
The Commission on Election, however, said that it has received dozens of complaints about rampant vote buying.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said several candidates still resorted to “money politics” to bribe voters, saying cases of vote buying in the final leg of the election campaign are very common during elections.
In a forum, Jimenez admitted that there are many last-minute voters who wait for the highest bidder, adding “it’s something that’s talked about all the time that people are hanging around outside, refusing to go in on the off chance that someone will approach them and give money.”
Jimenez urged the public to report any incident of vote buying.
Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said vote-buying includes giving away of gadgets, cash, and other items, which is an election offense.
Guanzon also appealed to candidates and the public not to participate in vote buying as it tarnishes the image of the election in the country.
Jimenez, on the other hand, said vote buyers and sellers are the only ones to be blamed for the occurrence of vote buying, and not the electoral system.
Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) Commissioner Greco Belgica also urged Filipinos to report cases of vote-buying in their areas.
“We encourage everyone to report all cases of vote-buying. Every report will have a significant effect in our fight against corruption. Do not be afraid. We will protect you and file appropriate charges against the violators,” Belgica said in a statement.
Belgica said vote-buying and election fraud destroy the country’s democratic process.
“When a candidate chooses to pay for your votes, they show utter disregard for our democratic process and a willingness to use illegal means to further their interests,” he added.
Belgica reminded candidates of President Duterte’s call for a clean and honest 2019 elections.
“The President is serious in having a clean election,” he said.
Belgica endorsed the various vote-buying reports his office received to the Comelec.
Jimenez, meanwhile, reminded the public that the ban on buying, selling and consuming alcoholic drinks will be effective on Saturday midnight and last until midnight of Monday, the day the country goes to the polls.
Comelec data showed that there are 61,843,771 million registered voters nationwide, with females outnumbering males, 31,816,812 to 30,026,959.
Region 4-A has the biggest number of voters with 8,674,351, followed by the National Capital region with 7,074,603 voters and in third is Region III with 6,829,661, while the Cordillera Autonomous Region has the lowest number of registered voters at 1,013,418.
Earlier, the Comelec said voting may take a little longer because of the new voter registration verification system (VRVS), saying voters may need an additional two to 15 minutes to cast their votes.
The new system was designed to identify and verify a voter’s registration through live fingerprint scanning of voters assigned in a particular polling precinct.
Jimenez said that before getting an official ballot from the Board of Election Inspector (BEI) at a voting center on election day, a registered voter should first go through the VRVS machine for fingerprint scanning to check his identity and information.
“The VRVS can take at least 2 to 5 minutes to verify. The voter would then be given an official ballot once their registration is confirmed in the system,” he said.
“If a voter’s information does not appear on the machine after live scanning their fingerprints for four times, an election officer will manually search for the voter’s name on the system. Voters may also search their names in the printed voters' list,” Jimenez said.
He said the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) will be the command center of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for the May 9 polls.
This will also be the venue for the canvass of votes for party-list and senatorial candidates.
The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) said Metro Manila is all set for Monday’s mid-term elections.
“All the 8,298 vote counting machines (VCM) were delivered in 723 polling centers,” NCRPO Chief, Major Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said.
“The final testing and sealing of VCMs are all done and all official ballots were transported from the National Printing Office to the City Treasurer’s Office last week,” Eleazar added.
The Metro Manila police chief said 16,000 policemen will be deployed to secure Monday’s polls.
“This (personnel deployment) is not just in polling centers or canvassing areas but also to maintain our anti-criminality efforts,” he said.
“There’s no room to be complacent, the criminal elements might strike anytime, anywhere they have an opportunity,” Eleazar said.
He also said that the NCRPO continues to implement the gun ban and checkpoint operations all over in Metro Manila until the last day of the election gun ban on June 13.
Eleazar also directed his five district directors to “always ask directives from the Comelec” on possible security problems they will encounter in voting precincts.
He said the PNP has put all its units in Metro Manila on full alert.
“Full alert means the highest level of readiness in all police offices and units and all personnel should be accounted for 100 percent,” Eleazar said.
“All leaves are cancelled, except for those that are emergency in nature. All of our policemen are present in their different offices or stations,” he added.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Friday placed all its units and camps nationwide on “red” alert.
“The AFP is on red alert status starting 8 a.m., May 10, in support (of) the Commission on Elections, and the Philippine National Police in the upcoming national and local elections,” AFP Chief of Staff, Gen. Benjamin Madrigal, said in a statement.
This is to ensure that all military personnel are ready to act on any emergency and respond to possible threats, Madrigal said.
“We are ready to respond appropriately for the honest, orderly, and peaceful conduct of elections,” he added.
A total of 98,000 AFP personnel will be deployed to reinforce the more than 143,000 PNP operatives who are tasked to secure the elections.
Earlier, Madrigal said efforts to neutralize security threats, especially in areas with armed groups and lawless elements, will continue to make sure that there will be no failure of election.
He said some 40,000 troops will be tapped for these operations while the rest will secure the actual elections, along with members of the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU).
“The AFP will also continue to intensify military operations, intelligence monitoring, community support programs and other efforts to prevent corrupt and destruction elements that intend to jeopardize and disrupt the conduct of the elections,” Madrigal said.
Also on Friday, the Department of Energy said the supply of electricity would be sufficient for the entire election week. With PNA