Comelec chief vows ‘complete’ transparency in poll preps

Comelec chairperson Saidamen Pangarungan (File photo courtesy of Comelec)

MANILA – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is fully committed to being more transparent in its preparations for the May 9 national and local polls.

“When we assumed office, we vowed for the sanctity of the ballots as our guiding principle. On my part as Chair of the Comelec, I made it very clear that my policy is complete transparency,” Comelec chairperson Saidamen Pangarungan in a press conference during the walk-through of the vote-counting machines (VCMs) and consolidation and canvassing system (CCS) production and deployment process in Sta. Rosa, Laguna Monday.

Pangarungan said they are taking all opportunities to open these preparations to the public “without compromising the security of the ballots”.

Commissioner George Erwin Garcia also echoed Pangarungan’s remarks, noting that the Comelec will have a regular briefing with stakeholders regarding their preparations.

“Every week, we will be conducting a briefing to all political parties, party-lists, media, stakeholders, citizens arm on what are the updates, what are the developments, what are the present statuses of the deployment,” he said.

Over the weekend, President Rodrigo Duterte came to the defense of the poll body amid allegations of disregarding the rule of opening the ballot printing preparations to election observation groups.

Poll watchdogs, including the National Citizens Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel), earlier criticized the Comelec for not allowing election observation groups to see preparations for the national elections.

Garcia, meanwhile, said the Comelec has already started the deployment of ballot boxes to be used on election day.

The deployment from the warehouse to the numerous provincial hubs started last February 1 and is expected to end on March 31.

The deployment of the voting machines and CCS laptops will begin on April 2 until April 19.

The official ballots will be shipped from the National Printing Office beginning April 20 until May 5. (PNA)

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