Best elections so far, COMELEC says of May 9 polls

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TAGKAWAYAN, PHILIPPINES - MAY 09: Electoral staff print election returns after polls closed at a school converted into a polling precinct on May 9, 2022 in Tagkawayan, Quezon province, Philippines. The country awaits results in a hotly contested elections marred by several incidents of violence and numerous complaints of faulty vote counting machines. The son and namesake of ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., who was accused and charged of amassing billions of dollars of ill-gotten wealth as well as committing tens of thousands of human rights abuses during his autocratic rule, has mounted a hugely popular campaign to return his family name to power. Ferdinand
TAGKAWAYAN, PHILIPPINES - MAY 09: Electoral staff print election returns after polls closed at a school converted into a polling precinct on May 9, 2022 in Tagkawayan, Quezon province, Philippines. The country awaits results in a hotly contested elections marred by several incidents of violence and numerous complaints of faulty vote counting machines. The son and namesake of ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., who was accused and charged of amassing billions of dollars of ill-gotten wealth as well as committing tens of thousands of human rights abuses during his autocratic rule, has mounted a hugely popular campaign to return his family name to power. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. enjoys a lead in opinion polls against his main rival, Vice President Leni Robredo. Marcos is running alongside Mayor Sara Duterte of Davao City, the daughter of outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte who is the subject of an international investigation for alleged human rights violations during his war on drugs.

Despite the problems with vote counting machines (VCMs) being worse than the past two elections in 2019 and 2016, the recently concluded May 9 polls were “the best elections, so far” according to Commission on Election (COMELEC) officials.

“This is the election with the least problems,” COMELEC Commissioner George Garcia said on Tuesday (May 17), rating the May 9 elections successful.

Additionally, COMELEC acting spokesman Rex Laudiangco said that the success of the recent elections was evident “because of the quickness and full disclosure of the results to the public” and the generally peaceful situation on election day.

“The elections were very transparent, fully monitored by all real-time, with watchdogs vetting the results across the board. This, in turn, made the results credible,” Laudiangco said.

Meanwhile, many voters were stranded in their precincts hours after the polls closed because of malfunctioning VCMs and SD cards.

Election watchdog Kontra Daya has earlier noted that the VCM problems in 2022 is almost double from the past elections, with 1800 reported malfunctioning machines compared to 961 and 801 in 2019 and 2016, respectively.

The COMELEC was also caught in a P14 million mess over payments for the hotel venue of the presidential debates. The poll body was also plagued with questions and criticisms over its rulings on disqualification cases against now presumptive president and dictator’s son Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

Garcia, however, insisted that the poll body was able to hold “honest elections at all costs.”

“We value our critics. It is from them that we gained a lot of insights. We cannot have a monopoly of knowledge. More heads are better than one. They deserve our attention always,” the commissioner said.

A day after the May 9 elections, various progressive and religious groups held protests outside the COMELEC main office in Intramuros citing election fraud, massive voters’ disenfranchisement, and the possible return of two dictators' child to power.

The critics were met with hundreds of police, SWAT officers, and firefighters threatening to disperse the otherwise peaceful protests.

Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. She advocates for animal welfare and press freedom.

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