The possibility of their presence in polling precincts today gives the Commission on Elections (Comelec) more anxiety than the probability of another blackout in Metro Manila today.
Comelec commissioner Grace Padaca herself admits there is not much their trained members or volunteers can do to stop them from disrupting a peaceful casting of votes.
“Handang handa naman po ang Comelec kung magka-power shortage tayo. Meron tayong sapat na generators to ensure smooth transmission of votes,” Padaca assured.
“Pero kapag may nanggulo, that’s out of our hands already. Nasa kamay na ito ng mga kapulisan,” she added.
The former Isabela governor could only cross her fingers that what happened in 2010 presidential polls won't be repeated during the country’s second conduct of automated elections.
She also hopes that the little adjustment the Comelec has made in the voting system could prevent hecklers from making scenes at polling precinct to extend voting to ungodly hours.
“Ang ginawa lang po namin ngayon, sa labas na lang lalagyan ng indelible ink yung botante para mapabilis ang pila. Pag ganun, wala na silang chance manggulo,” she explained.
She advised voters to immediately report similar incidents to police personnel immediately so as not distract teachers and inspectors, who will facilitate the actual voting.
Padaca issued the statement after the Noel Medina, acting president of Institute for Political and Electoral Reforms (IPER), raised the problem that caught everyone by surprise in 2010.
Consortium on Electoral Reform (CER) chair Ramon Casiple cited reports recording instances when supporters of a candidate interrupt precinct queues to prevent people from casting votes in favor of their rival.
Medina and Casiple argued that cases of heckling pose graver problem than power outages considering that it leaves teachers and inspectors to work until late hours.
This is the first time that the Comelec will hold elections from 7 am to 7 pm.
“Kung mapilitan mag-extend ang Comelec ng pagboto, mas delikado yun pag aabutin sila ng gabi lalo na pag nasa malayo o mataas ang incident ng election-related violence sa lugar,” Padaca said.
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