Comelec covers more bases for vote

Comelec covers more bases for vote
By Kristine L. Alave
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines–The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has issued new guidelines to provide remedies for at least three concerns in the coming polls: What if there is a shortage of ballots in a precinct? What if the counting machine rejects a ballot? Will there be enough staff to answer voters’ questions about the new automation process?

Revised General Instructions for Board of Election Inspectors (BEI), released on March 4, includes two new sections to “finetune the process and address procedural gaps” ahead of the May 10 national and local automated polls.

One new section (Section 37) addresses the possibility of ballot shortages in some precincts. “In case the official ballots of a precinct have all been used up and there are still voters registered at the precinct waiting to cast their votes,” the following procedure will be followed:

The chair of the BEI will ensure that the voters are eligible to vote and write down their names in the minutes. The chair then issues a certificate saying that they are indeed registered voters. The chair will then assign a third member of the BEI to accompany the voters to the next nearest precinct to cast their vote.

The Comelec raised the issue of a ballot shortage after the Supreme Court extended the registration period in December 2010.

In all, the poll body said 50.7 million voters registered to participate in the May 10 polls. Each voter will only get one ballot.

The new instructions also detailed new procedures in case the Precinct Count Optical Scan machine rejects a ballot. Now, the Comelec will allow a voter to feed the ballot to the machine four times instead of the original two.

If the PCOS rejects a ballot, the voter will be allowed to review his ballot for ambiguous marks and check if the serial number of the ballot matches that of the precinct.

After the review, the BEI should “let the voter refeed the ballot,” the GI said.

Another new section (Section 10) deputizes Department of Education supervisors for election day duty to assist voters.

According to the instructions, there should be at least one DepEd supervisor with support staff at every polling center. The number of DepEd supervisors per polling center will depend on the number of precincts in the area, the Comelec said.

The DepEd supervisor will help the election officer in crowd management and voters’ assistance. The DepEd official will also be in contact with police and military personnel nearby and can coordinate with them if there is a need, the poll body said.

Comelec mulls setting guidelines on sources of campaign funds

Comelec mulls setting guidelines on sources of campaign funds
By Sheila Crisostomo
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) plans to set new guidelines to monitor the sources of campaign funds following reports that some politicians are allegedly involved in drug trafficking to fund their campaign.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said yesterday that the Fair Elections Act and other existing poll guidelines do not tackle the sources of campaign donations and the provisions merely deal with the limit on campaign spending of candidates.

“They are mostly concerned with overspending. The rules have no concrete provisions on where did you get the money. But of course as we respond to the call of the times, the (Comelec) will discuss this and hope to come up with the necessary guidelines in time for the election,” he added.

Jimenez, however, admitted that new rules are not enough to eliminate so-called “narco-politics.”

“A big part of that is detecting who are the narco-politicians and to prove that he gets money from narcotics. Comelec will come in on the last step, if ever,” Jimenez maintained.

Villar is top spender

The latest report of Pera’t Pulitika (PaP) 2010 released yesterday showed that billionaire Sen. Manuel Villar is still the top spender among presidential candidates.

Villar, the Nacionalista Party standard-bearer who is catching up with rival Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III in surveys, spent a whopping P120,411,093 from Feb. 9, the start of the election campaign, up to March 2 in the placement of campaign advertisements on print and television.

The ads include a total of 195.25 minutes of airtime on television in the 22-day period.

Villar admitted that he has spent a lot for his campaign advertisements but said there is nothing wrong with that.

“I am not an actor, I’m not a celebrity, I have no father who was a president or mother who was a president. This is the only way for me to be recognized by our people. This is not illegal and I worked hard for this money,” Villar said.

Villar jokingly said that the reason he has spent so much was because the television stations charge so much for his ads.

Lakas-Kampi-CMD presidential bet Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr. appeared to be the most “prudent” among the presidential aspirants, as PaP 2010 noted that his overall media spending for the campaign in the same period only reached P60,480, representing advertisements in print since the group only monitored 1.5 minutes of TV airtime for his campaign from Feb. 9 to March 2.

The total media spending of other presidential aspirants from Feb. 9-March 2 are: former President Joseph Estrada, P87,950,037 for 128.5 minutes of television air time; Aquino, P87,092,605 for 180 minutes of television air time; and Sen. Richard Gordon with P67,320,722 for 144 minutes of television air time.

PaP 2010 explained that Aquino and Gordon have allocated a significant portion of their television advertisements to “other networks” that have lower published rates; while Estrada concentrated his television advertisement to the two giant networks, ABS-CBN and GMA-7, which are perceived to have higher published rates.

“These figures express percentages of campaign spending by candidates,” said lawyer Roberto Eugenio Cadiz, executive director of Libertas (Lawyer’s League for Liberty), one of the convenors of the PaP 2010.

“We hope that through media, the public would be able to determine whether candidates are spending within limits as provided for under the law, based on these data,” he also said.

Libertas, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), Consortium on Electoral Reforms, and the Association of Schools of Public Administration in the Philippines, Inc. are the organizations behind the PaP 2010, which monitors the media spending of the top six presidential bets.

The PaP 2010 study utilizes data from the AGB Nielsen Media Research (for television and print advertisements), reports from field monitors in 10 key cities and in-depth stories from investigative journalists. – With Katherine Adraneda, Marvin Sy