MANILA, Philippines – Despite reports of supposed errors in voting receipts, not a single formal complaint has been filed with the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to protest these discrepancies, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said.
“Dito po sa mga nakikita natin sa social media na hindi raw tumutugma sa resibo, hanggang ngayon wala pa po kaming nakukuhang formal complaint at wala pa pong ebidensya o pruweba na ipinapakita sa amin,” Bautista said in an interview with GMA News on Friday evening, May 6.
(Of the things we see on social media about voting receipt discrepancies, until now we haven’t received a formal complaint, and there’s still no evidence or proof being shown to us.)
He added, “Ang kailangan po natin, pruweba (What we need is proof)."
In this television interview, Bautista cited social media posts that claim discrepancies between actual votes fed into vote-counting machines (VCMs) and those indicated on voting receipts.
These discrepancies had reportedly been spotted in Lanao del Sur, Mati City in Davao Oriental, and Santa Ana in Cagayan.
Bautista also mentioned viral posts on supposed voting receipt discrepancies during the month-long overseas absentee voting.
Davao City 1st District Representative Karlo Nograles, for instance, earlier said votes for Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte had been credited to former interior secretary Manuel Roxas II during the final testing and sealing (FTS) of VCMs in Lanao del Sur and Mati. (READ: Duterte lawyer: Votes went to Roxas in VCM testing)
‘Biggest sin’ in elections
Referring to the reported voting receipt discrepancies during the FTS, Bautista said, “Pina-investigate na po namin, at sa totoo lang wala po kaming nakikitang ebidensya na kunyari ang boto sa isang kandidato ay naililipat sa kabilang kandidato.”
(We had that investigated, and to be honest, we haven’t seen any evidence that votes for one candidate had been transferred to another candidate.)
Bautista explained it is the “biggest sin” in the elections to pad votes of a candidate at the expense of his or her rivals.
Comelec Commissioner Arthur Lim earlier said the poll body is ready to sue voters who, even through social media posts, falsely claim election fraud.
Lim also appealed to media practitioners and opinion-makers “not to magnify” unverified reports “out of proportion.”
“And anything that undermines the credibility or integrity of the elections will be defeating to each and every well meaning Filipino,” Lim said.
The Comelec earlier rejected the idea of issuing voting receipts because these documents can facilitate vote buying. The poll body also said these receipts can be used in making up claims of cheating.
The Supreme Court, however, still ordered the Comelec to issue voting receipts in its ruling on a petition by senatorial candidate Richard Gordon and his political party, Bagumbayan.
The Comelec partly lost this case by default because it failed to meet the deadline to comment on the case.
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.