Comelec orders inventory of CdO election paraphernalia

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/07 May)–The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has ordered the inventory of all election paraphernalia in Cagayan de Oro City following allegations that poll forms, envelopes for voting and counting, pens and indelible inks were stolen Monday night.

Comelec officer Raul Pabito handed Tuesday morning the order to city treasurer Marilyn Legaspi at the Cagayan de Oro City hall amidst the mounting political tension following the discovery of the alleged theft.

“Please notify the different stakeholders and this office prior to the schedule of said inventory and conduct the inventory in the presence of Comelec representative(s), citizens’ arm, candidates and representatives/watchers of political parties to erase doubts as to the integrity of the election paraphernalia,“ the order from City Comelec chief Palmer Palamine said.

Cagayan de Oro has a voting population of 277,931.

Legaspi immediately ordered her personnel to notify all political parties, the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) to send their representative to witness the inventory scheduled at 2 p.m. today (Tuesday).

She also provided the media with copies of the inventory report of the ballots and other forms of supplies that the City Treasurer’s Office (CTO) received from the Comelec.

Late Monday afternoon, tension ran high after a group of NAMFREL volunteers spotted three City Hall workers spiriting out four boxes from the CTO.

Fearing a repeat of the 2010 incident when ballots and compact flash memory cards for PCOS machines were found dumped at the sanitary landfill, the NAMFREL called in their volunteers to hold a vigil at the City Hall.

Hundreds came, including supporters of Misamis Oriental Gov. Oscar Moreno, who is running for mayor in Cagayan de Oro.

The call elicited a similar response from supporters of reelectionist Mayor Vicente Emano, who is seeking a second term.

City Budget officer Grecilda Joson later came forward, claiming that the boxes contain her “personal effects.”

But she refused to open the boxes unless there is a court order.

Namfrel local chief Nestor Banuag said they welcome the Comelec order, saying this would lower the political tension in Cagayan de Oro.

“The inventory will allow us to see if anything valuable in the election paraphernalia is missing or not,” Banuag said.

The inventory list provided by city treasurer Legaspi to the media includes election forms, envelopes for voting and counting, indelible ink and other supplies from the Comelec.

Banuag said they will also inspect if the 360 boxes containing the ballots are intact and not tampered. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)