Probe of preshaded ballots readied

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CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Pampanga and the provincial chapters of two poll watchdogs have agreed to investigate the alleged use of preshaded ballots in two towns in the province in Monday’s elections.

“We came up with a resolution committing to do a serious investigation,” lawyer Fernando Cot-om, provincial election supervisor, said of the result of the meeting with leaders of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) on Wednesday.

The investigation will start after the provincial canvassing is over, he said.

A status report of the PPCRV and Namfrel said preshaded ballots were distributed by members of the board of election inspectors (BEI) in the villages of San Miguel Betis, San Juan Nepomuceno and San Juan Bautista, all in Guagua town, on Election Day.

“A specific complaint [for] shaded [circles] for local candidates, from governor to municipal councilors, [was] filed by Marlene David-Ocampo [at] Precinct 0169A against Elsa Bondoc, BEI, San Juan Bautista,” said the report issued at 8 p.m. on May 13.

Ocampo’s sworn statement was sent to the Comelec national office.

Preshaded ballots were reportedly used in Barangay (village) San Nicolas in Floridablanca town.

Watchers of the Liberal Party refused to sign a waiver that the BEI prepared in a bid to clear themselves of the alleged irregularity, said lawyer Vivian Dabu.

Dabu lost to reelectionist Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in the second congressional district race.

Guagua, according to the PPCRV and Namfrel report, had a nonfunctioning precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine in Precinct 0231A at Betis Elementary School.

Cluster 50 in San Miguel Betis received ballots for Sta. Ursula Cluster 72. It said that ballots accomplished in San Miguel Betis were taken to Sta. Ursula so these could be fed into the PCOS machine there.

But Guagua and Floridablanca were among the towns that managed to electronically transmit their certificates of canvass (COC) of votes on Tuesday.

As of Thursday noon, the COCs of Lubao, Mexico and San Simon towns, and Mabalacat City have not been transmitted to the provincial board of canvassers. Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon

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