Malfunctioning Vote Counting Machines (VCMs), missing names of voters and other glitches delayed voting in several polling precincts on Monday.
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) had to extend voting by one hour in at least 150 precincts that had opened late.
Voting in various polling precincts in Quezon City was delayed for more than an hour because of malfunctioning VCMs.
At the city’s San Diego Elementary School in Batasan Hills, a VCM rejected ballots because of a paper jam.
The voters whose ballots were rejected gave their ballots to the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) who assured them that they will insert the ballots when the VCM has been fixed.
In Payatas B Elementary School, also in Quezon City, two VCMs malfunctioned, forcing voters to queue for hours.
At the Trinity University Cluster in Damayang Lagi, in the city as well, the VCMs also did not start working until 10 a.m.
Commissioner Rowena Guanzon, however, said the technical glitches were not alarming.
“Stay calm. It’s just history repeating itself. They [election officers]have the experience, they know what to do,” she said when told of the poll delays.
Guanzon noted that all 92,500 VCMs underwent a series of tests to ensure that they were on tip-top condition before they were distributed to various precincts.
She said the defects could have been caused by mishandling during delivery.
“Usually the problem is the long journey. They are loaded on boats, jeeps, among others. Of course, the long travel may have affected the machines,” the commissioner explained.
Guanzon pointed out that only .0007 percent, or a miniscule fraction of the 92,500 machines, malfunctioned.
The Comelec had given assurances that it has more than enough back-up VCMs to replace machines that malfunction.
Still, the camp of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte asked the poll body to compel Smartmatic to explain the glitches.
“This should not be the case. These are supposed to be brand-new machines. Smartmatic should immediately explain why this is happening,” Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd, PDP-Laban president, said.
Duterte ran under the banner of PDP-Laban.
“In the meantime, we have to move for and secure a hold departure order against Smartmatic executives,” he added.
Despite a number of violent incidents reported in some areas, the police said Monday’s political exercise was generally peaceful.
In a statement read by the Philippine National Police spokesman, Chief Supt. Wilben Mayor, PNP chief Ricardo Marquez said all security personnel had been ready to provide security assistance.
“The odds were overwhelming, but we believe our early preparations were sufficient to accomplish the mission,” Marquez added.
The PNP put up a command and control center in Camp Crame–the PNP’s main headquarters located in Quezon City–that is constantly in touch with all police regional directors.
Marquez said even as the PNP is preoccupied with normal law enforcement functions, it will continue to enforce the gun ban that will be in effect until June 8 and the election liquor ban that is enforced until midnight tonight.
WITH ANTHONY VARGAS