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Lingering suspicion on poll fraud

Party list groups seek independent probe of Comelec glitches

Party list representatives on Thursday demanded an independent investigation of technical glitches that marred Monday’s midterm elections, giving rise to suspicions of fraud.

Kabataan Rep. Sarah Elago told reporters that while a joint congressional oversight committee would look into the problems that led to a seven-hour delay in the transmission of results on Monday, an independent investigation was necessary because of the Duterte administration’s control over the Senate and the House of Representatives.

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“Instead of giving us the truth, the findings of the joint congressional oversight committee might be further used to justify the widespread electoral fraud,” Elago said.

Independent body

She said the independent investigation could be done by a body composed of representatives of people’s organizations, election lawyers and information technology experts.

Thousands of people are expected to picket the Commission on Elections (Comelec) count of Monday’s vote at the Philippine International Convention Center on Friday to protest the conduct of the elections.

Other party list groups—including Gabriela, Anakpawis and Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT)—said they received significantly fewer votes this year in areas that had been their traditional bailiwicks, giving rise to more suspicion of fraud.

Anakpawis nominee Cathy Estavillo said her party received zero votes in precincts where the group had members as registered voters, including Caloocan and Valenzuela cities.

In Cagayan province, where Anakpawis has 20,000 members, she said the party polled only 8,000 votes.

Elago said Kabataan, which was hanging to its seat in the House by a thread as of Thursday, also received fewer votes in areas where the size of its chapters should have generated higher counts, such as Samar and Benguet provinces and Malabon City.

ACT Rep. France Castro said an area in Iloilo province where the party had consistently drawn more than 700 votes gave it just seven on Monday.

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Credible elections

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, however, said on Thursday that the elections were credible.

Sotto said that in percentage, the problems encountered with the vote counting machines and security digital (SD) cards were not that high, as pointed out by the Comelec.

These tend to be magnified because of the ubiquity of social media, he said.

“But in general, I think the elections were credible. If there are those who harbor doubts, they should present the reason for these and present the evidence,” Sotto told a news forum at the Senate.

He said he supported the joint congressional inquiry into the glitches.

“I support it because it would be good to clear things up,” Sotto said.

See the bigger picture with the Inquirer's live in-depth coverage of the election here https://inq.ph/Election2019

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TAGS: Comelec, Elago, Elections, fraud, glitches, Party list, poll, Probe, SD card, VCM
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