President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday appealed to allow first the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to explain the reason behind the reported malfunctioning vote counting machines (VCMs) during the mid-term elections before government conducts an investigation.
“Comelec is an independent body. And if there is any malfunction there or aberration at all in the procedure or process in the conduct of elections, let Comelec first explain to the people before we initiate a sort of investigation that is in recognizance of our independent (commissions),” Duterte said in a chance interview after he cast his vote at the Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School in Davao City.
The Comelec earlier admitted that VCM issues tripled in this year’s polls but assured that the number of VCMs that malfunctioned is still “within range.”
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez explained an expected 400 to 600 malfunctioning VCMs out of the total 85,000 VCMs was a “small figure.”
Duterte, meanwhile, said candidates caught vote-buying would be prosecuted to the full length of the law.
“If they are caught, they should be prosecuted to the full length of the law,” Duterte said.
He, however, acknowledged the practice of buying votes has been an “integral” part of election in the country since many Filipinos are poor.
“Walang hindi nagbibili ng boto dito, maniwala ka. Ituro mo kung sinong di nagbili ng boto (There’s no candidate that doesn’t engage in vote-buying, believe it. Point to me a person who hasn’t engaged in vote-buying),” Duterte said.
“When you start to give money, that’s not because I’m buying the vote of the fellow. It’s because I’m giving him money to go to the precinto (precinct), cast his vote, and go home. ‘Di naman lahat may pera (Not everyone has money),” he added.
Aside from the malfunctioning VCMs, vote-buying, and violence in some parts of Mindanao, Duterte said he has yet to receive information about anything that disrupted the conduct of elections.
Duterte said he wanted to visit Lanao del Sur following reports of violence and harassment in the area, but prioritized casting his vote.
“People will always congregate where I am and political leaders are also there and it might be construed by the many that campaigning beyond the allowable days and rather than risk disqualification,” Duterte said.
“Lanao remains to be controllable. I communicate with the Army, police almost every hour and for them to tell me there is something big in the conduct of elections,” he added. (PNA)
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