Cotabato poll officer admits errors in BOL plebiscite tally
MANILA, Philippines – Errors were committed in the entry of data during the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) plebiscite in Cotabato City, an election officer admitted before the National Plebiscite Board of Canvassers (NPBC) on Thursday.
Discrepancy issues on the number of votes cast and the number of registered voters in the city were raised during the plebiscite earlier this week.
Cotabato City Election Officer lawyer Rommel Rama said the discrepancy stemmed from the error of the plebiscite committee in Cotabato City in tallying the actual number of votes.
“For example, if the Yes vote is 100, they will also put 100 on the total number of voters who actually voted. For the No vote, they adopted it and put it on the voters who did not vote,” Rama told the NPBC as the Commission on Elections (Comelec) convened to mark the official start of the canvassing of votes for the BOL plebiscite.
“So there was an error on the part of the pleb comm, that’s why there’s a discrepancy or we can say that the computation is not accurate because of the omission or the incorrect data provided by the pleb comm,” Rama added.
In the Certificate of Canvass (COC) of Cotabato City, there were only 39,027 who voted in the plebiscite instead of the corrected number of 61,676.
But the result showed that the “Yes” vote won for the ratification of the BOL with 36,682 votes as against 24,994.
The Comelec en banc, sitting as the NPBC, was led by Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas.
Also present during the session were lawyers from the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, the panel which helped Congress draft the BOL.
Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez earlier said that the discrepancy on the COCs was a ‘clerical error.’
He also said that it is up to the board of canvassers if it will sanction the three election officers who affixed their signature on the document.
The signatories were identified as Rama, Mariam Mastura-Linsangan and Concepcion Balawag.
Thursday’s session ended without fully resolving the issue on the discrepancy, with the Cotabato COC turned over to the Comelec Tabulation Committee.
The next session for the canvassing of votes for the BOL plebiscite is scheduled on Friday at 2 p.m.
Voter turnout in Cotabato City was at 54.22 percent, the lowest among the participants of the referendum.
Maguindanao had the highest voter turnout at 93.35 percent.
Ballot boxes from the city of Isabela and the province of Basilan arrived in the Comelec headquarters in Intramuros, Manila about an hour after the session was suspended.
Only the regional office of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has not delivered its COCs. /gsg
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