President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday “nothing extraordinary” had disrupted the midterm elections.
He said the Commission on Elections should explain to the public the concerns about the faulty vote-counting machines before his administration took steps to probe the issue.
Recognizing that the Comelec is an independent body, Duterte said the poll body should be given a chance to explain the reported technical malfunctions.
“Comelec is an independent body and if there’s any malfunction there or if there’s any aberration at all in the procedure or process in the conduct of the election, let the Comelec explain first to the people before we even initiate a sort of an investigation,” Duterte told reporters after casting his vote in Davao City.
“That is in recognizance of the separation of our subjections, of our independent organs.”
Asked if he would investigate the reported instances of technical glitches and errors, Duterte said: “That would be early.”
Earlier that day, the Comelec admitted that the problems with the VCMs tripled this year compared to the presidential elections three years ago.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez reported that 400 to 600 out of the 85,000 vote-counting machines in precincts across the country encountered glitches. It was higher than the total 188 VCM problems encountered in the 2016 elections.
“In the overall scheme of things, that is a small number but compared to 2016, the figure is jarring,” Jimenez told reporters.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said there was nothing to worry about the malfunctions of VCMs in parts of the country.
“You can use manual counting with respect to malfunctioning machines,” Panelo told POLITIKO.
“We have to wait for the reports from all over the country. For as long as the voter’s ballot is counted, there’s nothing to worry about,” said Panelo who cast his vote at the Kapitan Moy Elementary School Marikina Heights.
Meanwhile, asked to assess the election day, Duterte was seemingly happy that “nothing extraordinary” had disrupted his desire for a peaceful and clean election.
“Well, I have yet to receive something that is more than just the ordinary, the vote buying [reports], the violence there [and] violence here,” he said.
“But nothing of a big one that would maybe probably disturb the conduct of the elections throughout the nation.”
In a previous speech Friday evening, the President warned the people, particularly those sowing trouble, to stop impeding the smooth-sailing elections in Lanao del Sur, threatening to send more troops to provide security.
The province in Mindanao was believed to be targeted by groups who aim to make a failure of the elections. Dismayed by reports of violence and harassment in the area, the President even said he would personally accompany his troops.
However, in the same interview, the President bared his initial plan to visit Lanao del Sur did not push through after a certain political party “requested” him not to go.
“The problem is if I go there today because that was the request last night, whether I like it or not the people will always congregate where I am and political leaders will also be there,” Duterte said.
“So, it might be construed by the many that [I’m] campaigning beyond the allowable days. And rather than risk a disqualification, it seems it’s really not possible, so I did not [push through anymore],” he added.
In a recent development, an improvised explosive device inside a van intercepted near a polling center in Marantao, Lanao del Sur, went off hours before the polling precincts closed.
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