70% voter turnout in Caraga

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/11 May) – The regional office of the Commission on Elections in Caraga (Region 13) reported a 70-percent voter turnout in the country’s first automated general elections.

Regional Comelec Director Francisco Pobe declared the voting in the region “very successful and generally peaceful” despite the delays caused by faulty PCOS machines particularly in the island province of Dinagat and other problems.

Caraga Region has a total of 2,145 clustered precincts. It covers the provinces of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte, and Surigao del Sur and the cities of Butuan, Surigao, Bislig, Bayugan, Cabadbaran and Tandag.

Pobe said a total of 30 PCOS machines malfunctioned but that these were immediately attended to by the boards of election inspectors and technical persons from Smartmatic-TIM.

“Our spare PCOS machines helped a lot and those that malfunctioned were immediately replaced while others were also immediately repaired by our technical men in the field,” he said.

He added the region had a total of 2,145 PCOS machines, 137 of which served as backups.

Aside from the faulty PCOS machines, some polling places encountered problems like paper jams and incorrect ways of shading and over voting.

Pobe said the rains on Election Day and the missing names of voters also hampered the flow of voting. He said some polling places in the towns of Hinatuan and Marihatag, both in Surigao del Sur were flooded.

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) of the Diocese of Butuan, however, blamed the glitches on the COMELEC.

Fr. Randy Jasper Odchigue of the PPCRV media affairs said “unsystematic” procedures and faulty PCOS machines delayed the voting.

PPCRV reports said that many voters had to wait for several hours outside the precincts for their turn to cast their votes. (Alden Pantaleon, Jr./MindaNews)