Palace rejects fears of rampant poll cheating

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

MALACANANG allayed fears that widespread cheating would occur in the midterm polls on Monday, saying it already tasked the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to safeguard the sanctity of the ballot.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said law enforcement agencies were “ready to carry out the instructions of President Benigno Aquino III that we must have peaceful, credible, safe and honest elections.”

“That was the last word to them at the ending of the command conference that we had last week,” she said over Radyo ng Bayan on Sunday.

She said law enforcement agencies are well aware of the assistance that they are mandated to provide the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

At the same time, Valte called on Filipinos to exercise their right of suffrage by going out on Monday and participating in the 2013 midterm elections.

“We reiterate our appeal to everybody to go out and exercise your right to suffrage and your right to vote. So please go out, exercise your right to vote, and guard your votes well,” she said.

She said the President would cast his vote at his hometown of Tarlac on Monday morning, and would closely monitor the proceedings as the day progresses.

Based on the schedules sent to media, Team PNoy senatorial bets will vote in these areas: Grace Poe (San Juan), Francis Escudero (Sorsogon), Aquilino Pimentel III (Cagayan de Oro), Cynthia Villar (Las Piñas), Ramon Magsaysay Jr. (Muntinlupa City), Juan Edgardo Angara (Aurora), Jamby Madrigal (Quezon City), Antonio Trillanes IV (Caloocan City), Alan Peter Cayetano (Taguig), Paolo Benigno Aquino IV (Tarlac), Risa Hontiveros (Quezon City) and Loren Legarda (Malabon).

UNA leader Vice President Jejomar Binay, meanwhile, will cast his vote at the San Antonio High School in Makati City.

Some 18,000 positions are up for grabs while a total of 52,014,648 registered voters are expected to troop to the 77,829 clustered precincts in 36,772 voting centers nationwide.

These include 40,000 detainees in 212 prison areas in the country, according Comelec Commissioner Luie Guia.

Guia said a prisoner can still exercise his right to suffrage as long as he or she has not been convicted by the Supreme Court with finality.

He added that they set up special polling precincts in areas where there are more than 50 registered voters.

However, Guia said inmates cannot experience feeding their ballots into precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.

“The inmates were given until 3 p.m. to cast their votes because those ballots will still be taken to the mother polling precincts where it will be counted,” he said.

Inmates in jails with less than 50 registered voters may be allowed to go to their assigned polling precincts as long as there is clearance from the court hearing the case and must be escorted by authorities.

Guia said political parties may also opt to deploy watchers in the special polling precincts for inmates.

The Commission on Human Rights earlier asked Comelec to allow inmates to vote since 95 percent of the prisoners in the country are still awaiting trial and resolution of their cases. (SDR/Virgil Lopez/FP/Sunnex)

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