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Will May 9 vote get off the ground?

MANILA (SE): The Supreme Court of The Philippines ruled on March 10 that voters at the May 9 presidential election must be issued with a computer generated receipt upon casting their ballot.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has flaunted this requirement of law in the previous two elections, even claiming that the issuing of a receipt could contribute to the age-old Philippine practice of vote buying and selling.

Following the court ruling, the chairperson of the Comelec, Andres Bautista, is warning that the election may not be able to go ahead as planned, because the receipts have not been printed as yet and may not be ready on time.

The Overseas Absentee Voting may be even further at risk, as it is due to open on April 9, so had less than one month to prepare for the issuance of receipts in an election where a sizeable turnout is expected.

CBCP News reported that Bishop Broderick Pabillo has reacted strongly to Bautista’s threats. In late February, he was highly critical of the Comelec, describing its logic over the receipts as flimsy and stressing that its violation of the law equates to a seriously flawed electoral system.

“It is up to them, but they should follow the law,” the auxiliary bishop of Manila said. “Unless they are just sowing fears again because they are against the (court) decision.”

He said the Comelec violated the law twice in the past and it is about time the poll body is compelled to implement all the security features required under the automated election system.

“They should address this problem, because they have been taking it for granted. And now they are putting the blame on the country,” Bishop Pabillo stressed.

Bishop Ruperto Santos lauded the Supreme Court decision, saying the ruling assures Filipinos that their votes are accepted and are counted.

Filipinos know that their votes are sometimes not counted or registered, even in the more trustworthy system in Hong Kong.

In August last year, Beth Sabado told the Sunday Examiner that she had been told at the voter registration counter at the consulate general in Hong Kong that not only was her vote, which she cast on 2013 at the Bayanihan Centre in Kennedy Town, not registered, but her overseas voter registration was not recorded.

In addition, she learned that the receipt she had received when she registered as an overseas absentee voter is not worth the paper it is written on either.

Bishop Santos says that he believes that with the official receipt there will be proof and evidence that a vote was cast, which even the Comelec office will not be able to deny.

The chairperson of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, Henrietta de Villa, warned the court ruling will certainly affect preparations being made by the Comelec.

 

“But the Supreme Court also specified the receipt should not leave the precinct, but be dropped in a box. Difficult, but doable. Voters will have to be obedient,” De Villa said.

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