GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/11 May) – Despite the initial setbacks caused by some malfunctioning precinct count optical scan or PCOS machines and largely disorganized system of voting, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) declared Monday’s automated national and local elections in Region 12 or Southwestern Mindanao as more orderly and peaceful compared to the previous polls.
Lawyer Michael Abas, Comelec Region 12 director, said that aside from reports on problems regarding some faulty PCOS machines and other minor voting-related concerns, they have not received any report regarding the escalation of violence in any part of the region during the elections.
He specifically noted the peaceful and orderly conduct of the polls in several municipalities and cities in the area that were earlier listed as possible election hotspots or areas of concern.
“Everything here is generally smooth so far especially in terms of peace and order,” Abas said in a radio interview.
Comelec Region 12 supervised Monday’s polls in the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong and Kidapawan.
Voting in several parts of South Cotabato, Sarangani and this city was disrupted early on Monday after some of the PCOS machines malfunctioned but election automation firm Smartmatic-TIM immediately provided replacements for some of them.
A number of polling precincts affected by the PCOS glitches proceeded with the polling through the manual system.
Voters also complained of the long queues at the polling precincts amid the heavy rains Monday afternoon.
Winnie Ebola, a Comelec-12 employee, said in a phone interview that they encountered problems with the conduct of the voting in most polling precincts because of the new election system but that they were all considered minor.
“As the voting went on, the BEIs (board of election inspectors) and poll clerks were able to manage the voting system quite well and the results were very encouraging,” she said.
Ebola said they have yet to establish the voting turnout in the region but said the initial feedbacks from the field were so far quite significant.
She said the canvassing of votes at the provincial and municipal levels has been ongoing throughout the region and that they expect to complete them within the day.
“Our target is to complete the canvassing and proclaim the winners within 24 hours after the end of the voting,” she added. (Allen V. Estabillo/MindaNews)