Comelec to hold special elections in Isabela precinct

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said it will hold special elections in a polling precinct in Jones, Isabela, where armed men burned a vote-counting machine (VCM) a day after the May 13 polls.

"Special elections will be conducted on May 20, 2019, in Barangay Dicamay 1, Jones, Isabela, as a consequence of the intentional burning of VCMs in that area, on election day," said Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez in a statement around 9:30 pm on Saturday, May 18.

In a press conference earlier on Saturday, Comelec Director Frances Arabe said the recommendation was "to hold special elections on May 20" in a polling precinct with around 1,000 voters in Jones, Isabela.

This comes after unidentified armed men burned the VCM for Barangay Dicamay I, along with poll paraphernalia, in Jones on Tuesday, May 14.

In San Pablo, Zamboanga del Sur, a VCM was also burned on Wednesday, May 15. 

Arabe said that in the case of Zamboanga del Sur, the regional election director is waiting for the request of the election officer "to lower the threshold" of votes that the consolidation and canvassing system (CCS) can already canvass.

If there will be no special elections in San Pablo, Zamboanga del Sur, the lowering of the threshold is crucial because the CCS can only canvass votes within an acceptable threshold.

Arabe said that the remaining number of votes in San Pablo, Zamboanga del Sur – around 400 votes – "will not affect the standing of the local candidates."

"So the request is leaning toward the lowering of the threshold so that they can proceed to proclaim," said Arabe. 

The Comelec, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC), is now canvassing votes for senators and party-list groups. Arabe said the NBOC has canvassed 149 out of 167 certificates of canvass as of posting time. –

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

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