845 local candidates sure winners on May 9 | Inquirer News

845 local candidates sure winners on May 9

/ 05:32 AM March 25, 2022
Election graphics by INQUIRER.net; campaigning, #VotePH2022, election

Election graphics by INQUIRER.net

The campaign period for local candidates officially kicks off Friday, March 25, with 845 candidates running unopposed in the May 9 polls, according to the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Based on Comelec records, a total of 18,023 local positions nationwide will be contested.

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There are 39 congressional candidates running unchallenged among those vying for the 253 available district representative seats.

In the 81 provinces, nine candidates for governors and 11 for vice governors have no opponents, and out of the 782 available provincial board seats, 45 board members are assured of being elected since they are running unopposed. (See related story in Regions, Page A8.)In the 146 cities and 1,488 municipalities, there are 203 mayors and 254 vice mayors who are also assured of getting elected since there are no other contenders.

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There are likewise 284 city or municipal councilors who will need only one vote to get elected, out of the 13,558 city or municipal council seats to be contested on May 9.

The official campaign period for national posts began much earlier on Feb. 8 for those seeking to be elected president, vice president, senator (with 12 available seats) and party list representative.

Comelec, however, has so far not declared which are the so-called areas of concern for election-related violence.

Ballot printing

With 45 days to go before the elections, 39.4 million “good” ballots have been printed, or 58 percent of the 67.4 million ballots needed on May 9.

The National Printing Office (NPO) has so far printed 58,838,453 ballots but only 39,433,714 of them have passed final quality control, according to Elections Commissioner George Garcia.

Some 13.2 million ballots are still being verified while another 6.1 million ballots are on “quarantine” for further checking, he said.

So far, Garcia added, 105,853 ballots have been confirmed as “defective.”

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“We’ll account for each one of them. We will burn them in front of all of you,” he said on Thursday during the first weekly press briefing of the poll body.

Later in the day, Comelec officials had 15 representatives from poll watchdogs and political parties scrutinize some printed ballots from 10 randomly selected precincts. Ten sealed ballot boxes were opened before Comelec officials, accredited watchers and media representatives inside the NPO conference room.

READ: Comelec urged: Issue rules on random sampling; address matters on defective ballots

Under new leadership, Comelec last week opened the ballot printing process to official watchers and agreed to the scrutiny of some of the ballots that have been printed since Jan. 28 without any observers.

Garcia said “no glitch whatsoever” occurred during the random ballot testing. “It’s a historic first. But a lot of things still need to be done to gain the trust of our people on the institution and the electoral process,” he said.

Probe of ‘data breach’

Comelec Chair Saidamen Pangarungan ordered elections system provider Smartmatic to submit its internal investigation report on the alleged data breach instigated by an employee.

READ: Comelec assures en banc ‘taking action’ on alleged data breach

He also ordered the Comelec’s law department to review the contract with Smartmatic and give advice on possible action that may be taken by the poll body.

“Serious allegations of violations and indiscretion of Comelec providers will be stringently addressed,” Pangarungan said in response to Sen. Imee Marcos’ disclosure last week that a Smartmatic employee allowed a group of hackers to copy election data from a laptop issued by the company.

“Although we maintain that the Comelec has not fallen victim to any attacks that will amount to a security breach, we will not take these allegations sitting down,” he added.

Smartmatic has denied any “personal data breach” in its operations “that could possibly affect the 2022 national and local elections.”

READ: Comelec to review contract with Smartmatic amid security breach allegations

READ: Smartmatic assures ‘2022 PH elections are 100% safe and secure’

It said it provided only the automated election system and was not involved in the processing or storing of personal data of any voter for the 2022 polls.

The National Bureau of Investigation earlier said it was still investigating the incident.

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