PPCRV Declares RP Elections 'clean'

Monday, May 24th, 2010

MANILA, May 19, 2010-A Catholic Church-backed poll watchdog said the Philippines' first full automated election was done squarely, despite some "discrepancies" in the results.

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) said they found some 29 discrepancies so far between the electronically transmitted data and the election returns ERs.

The Commission on Elections-accredited is currently conducting its manual encoding of election returns to validate the automated results at the Pius XII Center in Manila.

Liberal Party (LP) bet Senator Benigno Aquino III, the apparent winner of the May 10 presidential polls, continues to enjoy huge lead over his eight other opponents.

In the vice presidential race, LP's Sen. Manuel Roxas continue to fight tooth and nail over his rival Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay who continue to lead by around 800, 000 votes as of Wednesday.

But the opposition has alleged fraud and demanded the poll result be investigated.

The election was held less than a week after the poll body recalled more than 76,000 memory cards from voting machines used in the national and local polls after tests found they failed to read ballots and print accurate results.

Some religious leaders and civil society leaders have long raised concern the untested system left door open for vote fraud that could lead to instability and civil unrest.

According to PPCRV chairperson Henrietta De Villa the discrepancies found were "too minor" to conclude that the election was rigged.

"There's no pattern (of poll cheating). We've found no systematic attempts of fraud. If there was any attempt, then they failed to pull it off," De Villa said in a press conference Wednesday.

The PPCRV official, however, said the allegations of cheating are still something that is not worth downplaying.

"Accusations backed by evidence must be looked into and thoroughly investigated so that the credibility of the elections 2010 will not be unjustly tarnished. The ultimate losers in the discredited elections are always the people and out democracy," she said.

The PPCRV said they have so far received 76,475 of the 70,255 election returns, which accounts for 92.02 percent of the grand total.

As of this posting, they have so far encoded 43,035 ERs of which only 29 precincts which represent only .07 percent showed discrepancies, an indication of the accuracy of the electronic count.

The discrepancies spotted in the 29 ERs or clustered precincts were divided to four categories. The first type, wherein the candidates get zero votes, was reported in four precincts. This was the case in San Nicholas Elementary School in Bacoor Cavite.

The second type, where in the transmission of votes a candidate would get a minus of one vote and these were reflected in at least two precincts. This was the example in a precinct in Upper Bicutan Elementary School in Taguig City.

Majority of 19 clustered precincts spotted with discrepancy fell under the third category wherein the transmitted votes of the candidates were all less than 10 compared to the numbers in the ERs. Such was seen in Commonwealth Elementary School.

While in four precincts, the group observed that the candidates got higher votes in the transmission compared to their record in the ER wherein they only registered single digit number of votes. They cited the Libas Elementary School in Roxas City, Capiz as an example.

For De Villa, the discrepancies found so far between electronically transmitted election results and ERs that its volunteers had manually examined were still negligible.

"It's up to the Comelec now to explain how these discrepancies happened," she said. (Roy Lagarde/CBCPNews)