Danao asks public to check info first before concluding amid video of cops tearing ballots
MANILA, Philippines — Philippine National Police (PNP) officer-in-charge Lt. Gen. Vicente Danao Jr. has asked Filipinos to be more “circumspect” with the information they get from supposedly unverified sources, as videos of police officers tearing ballots in Cotabato City surfaced.
Danao in a statement on Wednesday said they got reports from the Police Regional Office in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region (PRO-BAR) about the incident, saying that the police officers were only tearing ballots that were empty and unused — to prevent electoral fraud.
“The Philippine National Police again cautions the public to be circumspect in dealing with information from unverified sources. We wish to reiterate our advice to the public to be wary of disinformation circulating in social media especially during this election period,” Danao said.
The video was supposedly taken inside the Datu Ayunan Elementary School in Cotabato City.
“Reports from Police Regional Office-Bangsamoro Autonomous Region indicate that the video footages were taken at the Datu Ayunan Elementary School, MB Kalanganan, Cotabato City where PNP personnel served as members of the Special Electoral Board (SBEI),” Danao explained.
“The PNP City Director of Cotabato City, Police Colonel Rommel L. Javier has satisfactorily explained that after the casting of votes/cut off time at about 7:00 PM of May 9, 2022 in the respective Precincts, the PNP BEI members were mandated to tear up the unused blank Official Ballots Sheets as per COMELEC Omnibus Election Code – Article 17 of Section 204 entitled Disposition of unused ballots at the close of the voting hours,” he added.
According to Danao, it was witnessed by poll watchers from OneCotabato and the United Bangsamoro Justice Party (UBJP) — the political party of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which have both expressed support for Vice President Leni Robredo’s presidential bid.
“It was further reported that the said tearing was witnessed by Mr. Arfaj-Erven P. Ahmad, the Designated Election Supervisor Officer (DESO) and Watchers from parties of OneCotabato and UBJP,” he said.
Videos posted on social media showed two police officers tearing the ballots, which are supposedly shaded. A closer look at one of the torn ballots showed circles for Robredo and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio shaded.
PNP assured though that the incident is being investigated by the PRO-BAR, and a report about it will be made public.
“We hope this clarification and verified information puts this matter to rest and further enlightened the public of the election rules and procedures,” Danao said.
Earlier, Danao also chided people who insist on massive fraud, asking them to present the evidence at the proper time and venue. He also asked why a certain camp is protesting when it lost without actually leading in the surveys.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the transparency server of the Commission on Elections showed that based on the partial and unofficial tally, former senator Bongbong Marcos already has over 31.08 million votes, way ahead of Robredo’s 14.81 million votes.
Marcos running mate and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte leads all vice presidential candidates with 31.54 million, while behind her is Robredo running mate Senator Francis Pangilinan with 9.227 million votes.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.