The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) official in charge of the canvassing of plebiscite votes in Bataraza last March 13 deplored social media accusations that the local poll body rigged the results in favor of the “Yes” vote.
COMELEC Officer III Phoebe Narrazid called out an unnamed member of the oppositor group One Palawan for reportedly making “below the belt” statements against them.
“Napakasakit sa aming mga PlebCom, na pinagbibintangan kami nang hindi maganda. Lahat ng mga PlebCom natin mula sa mga far-flung barangays, hindi biro ang mga hirap nila mula pagkuha hanggang maibalik sa municipal canvassing ang mga balota, at may mga security ang mga yan,” Narrazid said.
There have been random unsubstantiated allegations of irregularities on social media about the conduct of the plebiscite in Bataraza, one of only four municipalities out of 23 that yielded a “Yes” outcome, and with the widest margin. The final municipal canvass of Bataraza had 21,604 Yes votes and only 8,065 No votes.
Narrazid stressed that the polling in Bataraza was “transparent”, denying claims allegedly made by One Palawan that their watchers were not allowed to go inside the precincts.
“Sinungaling ang mga watchers. Maling tao ang napagtanungan nila at hindi kami. At saka nasa loob kami ng canvassing at open naman yun. Paglabas namin, nakita ko sila, dalawa pa sila ang pinapasok namin na dapat ay isa lang,” she told Palawan News.
“Binabantayan ang mga yan ng mga AFP, kaya walang nangyayaring pandaraya,” she added.
Narrazid also said that the photo circulating on social media showing teachers sleeping or resting on the hallway outside the canvassing area is a normal occurrence during elections there.
She explained that they had to process canvassing returns from 263 precincts from all over Bataraza and the teachers had to wait for their turn while guarding their respective canvassing results until they are called in.
“Laging ganyan naman ang scenario bawat election. Hindi sila pwedeng umuwi kasi dapat nakaantabay sila na baka may mga corrections o anything na babaguhin,” she said.
Narrazid explained that it took a longer time for them to process the canvassing returns from each precinct because they had to follow COMELEC guidelines.
“Kasi katulad sa Bataraza, hindi kami ang nagbabasa kundi ang tatlong chairman doon sa canvassing committee,” she added.