MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/24 Oct) — Teachers queueing for election paraphernalia from the City Treasurer’s Office here went home dismayed late Sunday afternoon upon hearing that election supplies from the Commission on Elections in Manila have not yet arrived as of 4 p.m. Sunday, with some officials fearing the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections here will be delayed.
Grade school teacher Leonora Rivera, from the Bangcud Elementary School, said they are worried about their work as members of the Board of Election Inspectors.
“It’s uncertain if we can start at 7 a.m. and we are worried about being asked to come early morning tomorrow to get our supplies. Some of us have no place to stay here and we need to travel to our assignments after the distribution,” she said.
In the morning, City Treasurer Danilo Linoay announced to hundreds of teachers waiting to claim their election supplies at the city hall here that they still cannot fix the time of distribution because the forwarder had not yet delivered the supplies.
Linoay said aside from the official ballots for the barangay elections, other supplies — like posters indicating the precincts, election returns, paper seals, certificate of receipt of official ballots, envelopes for elections returns, and for the key of the ballot boxes — have not been delivered yet. The official ballots for the SK elections have already arrived though.
He said among those that have been delivered so far are the tally sheets and the Certificate of Votes. But the Certificates of Canvass (COCs) are not yet in.
“In the past, these supplies are already delivered two days before the elections,” Linoay said.
He told MindaNews they feared they cannot start the elections on time in the city’s 259 precincts because of the delay.
But he clarified that a representative from Ximex forwarding firm, which the Comelec contracted to deliver the supplies in Malaybalay City, told him as of 1:46 p.m. that the delivery truck from Cagayan de Oro is already on the way.
His announcement caused the hundreds of teachers waiting outside to squeeze under the city hall canopy to avoid the heavy rain outside.
As of 4 p.m., there was still no sight of the delivery truck. About a hundred teachers stayed behind at the city hall, almost an hour after SPO1 George Palasol announced the 4 a.m. distribution on election day itself based on Ximex’s estimate to deliver between 4 and 5 p.m. today.
Linoay said the City Treasurer’s Office staff needed at least 10 hours to sort out the official ballots based on the number needed in each of the 259 precincts.
“If it arrives at 5 p.m., we can probably distribute it to the teachers by 4 a.m.,” Linoay said.
But he said he could not discount that the conduct of timely elections on Monday is already at risk with the delay.
“This is the first time it happened here since we have been holding elections,” Linoay told MindaNews.
He said he called up the Comelec monitoring office in Manila early this morning but an officer he named as Joseph Casas could not give him a categorical answer about the location of the supplies for Bukidnon. He quoted Casas as saying he is yet to check the location from the cargo forwarder.
A certain Ronald from forwarder Ximex also told him the delivery truck was on the way as of 1:46 p.m. but the truck had not showed up in front of city hall a few hours later.
He said he was puzzled by the incident because the election officers in the province told the Comelec command conference last Friday that “they were all set and ready for the elections.”
Lawyer Lordino Salvana, Bukidnon election supervisor, could not be reached for comment as of 4 p.m.
“Personally, I think the delay of the election supplies is a clear sign that the Comelec came unprepared for the conduct of the elections,” Linoay said.
While the delay of distribution was announced, many teachers stayed in city hall, including those assigned to serve in the elections in Upper Pulangi and other remote areas of the city. (Walter I. Balane / MindaNews)