Special polling centers to be set up in places battered by typhoonBy Judy Quiros
DAVAO CITY, Philippines—The Commission on Elections is to put up makeshift voting centers in areas hardest hit by Typhoon Pablo last December as school buildings that were flattened still have to be rebuilt, a local election official said.
Comelec regional director Wilfred Jay Balisado warned, however, that balloting would be delayed in at least four towns in Compostela Valley and several others in Davao Oriental if it rains on election day on May 13 as the electronic precinct count optical scan machinese cannot be exposed to rain.
“We have to turn the PCOS machines off if it rains because they will be damaged if we let them get wet,” he told reporters here. “There is nothing wrong if the voting process will be temporarily stopped during rainfall because this will be continued thereafter.”
Balisado said machines that malfunction during the balloting will be replaced. All municipalities in the region, Balisado said, will be provided with extra PCOS machines as backup.
He said the Comelec would also be sending power generators to each town in case of power outages. Election officers were also asked to buy emergency lighting systems.
Balisado said putting up makeshift voting centers in Compostela Valley and Davao Oriental would ensure elections in these two provinces would be held as scheduled, contrary to rumors the balloting there will be scheduled at a later date. The rumors were fueled by the lack of school buildings to be used as voting centers.
When Pablo struck the two provinces in December, many school buildings were flattened along with houses. Hundreds were killed.
Balisado said the Comelec was all set for the May 13 elections and that all the PCOS machines and ballot boxes to be used in the region had arrived and will be delivered to the voting centers soon so they could be tested on May 6 to ensure they are functioning correctly.
Balisado said ballots will be distributed on election day itself in areas that are easily accessible and at least 12 hours earlier in hard to reach places.
Southern Mindanao has about 2.6 million registered voters, 10 percent of whom would be voting for the first time.