Comelec’s last minute changes alarm PPCRV

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Henrietta de Villa, head of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, inspects a vote-counting machine during the unveiling of the poll watchdog group’s command center, May 3 2016. (R. Lagarde/CBCPNews)

MANILA, May 3, 2016— A poll watchdog has some qualms over the Commission on Election’s preparedness for the May 9 synchronized presidential, senatorial, and local elections.

With only six days to go before the elections, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) is a bit worried over the many major changes taken by the Comelec in the election process last month.

“And 12 days before elections, the Comelec issued general instructions… so many changes for very little time. That is a deadly combination,” said de Villa.

“Understandably, with little time and unforeseen changes, challenges do present themselves,” she added.

Among the changes initiated by the poll body include the provision of replacement ballots, which according to her, could possibly trigger a ballot shortage if there will be higher voter turnout than past elections.

She expressed concern that the effect of the last-minute changes will be shouldered by the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs).

“These changes are confusing for people on the ground,” explained De Villa.

She lamented that even the preparations of the PPCRV are also affected by the last-minute adjustments since they have to train their volunteers yet again.

“Even poll watchers, even if we want to train them properly, we cannot since we changed [the process] several times,” said De Villa.

The citizens’ arm of the Comelec also lashed out at the seeming lack of transparency in the deployment of the vote counting machines (VCMs) and other election paraphernalia.

De Villa said they were expecting to be informed when the VCMs will be dispatched from their warehouse, their expected schedule of arrival at their destinations, and at which specific warehouses.

“How can we be sure if there were no interventions when they did not give us those information?” she asked.

On Tuesday, the PPCRV unveiled its command center for the 2016 polls at the Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila where its unofficial parallel count will be conducted.

Among the new services PPCRV will be providing is the launch of a precinct finder from its website to help voters locate their precincts.

Ana Singson, PPCRV Communications Director, said they requested the needed data from the Comelec whose website was defaced by hackers last month.

De Villa also revealed they are deploying an estimated 700,000 PPCRV volunteers nationwide on election day. (R. Lagarde/ CBCPNews)

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