Palace won't tolerate cheating on Monday's polls
Malacañang warned on Friday the Commission on Elections ( Comelec) and its private contractor Smartmatic and their respective staff from committing any form of cheating in next week's midterm elections.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo underscored the importance of ensuring the sanctity of the ballots.
"Relative to this, we urge the Commission on Elections to do its constitutional duty as the sentinel of the elections in ensuring the integrity of the ballots. Any form of cheating committed by the electoral body's personnel or contractor (Smartmatic) will not to be tolerated by this Administration," he said.
In the previous elections, Smartmatic had been accused of manipulating the results of the polls. The company denied the accusations.
The Comelec, on the other hand, is chaired by Sheriff Abas, an appointee of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Panelo, also chief presidential legal counsel, said the "practice of the sacred right of suffrage is the strongest form of action an individual can perform in a democratic society."
"This is the only time that the rich and poor alike as well as the powerful and the weak will have equal value in the weighing scale as regards their vote. Any hindrance or manipulation of the right to vote is a lethal attack against the very heart of our country's democracy," he stressed.
He noted the concerns and apprehensions raised by various quarters relative to the conduct of the May 13 polls.
"The President has put in place measures designed to determine if cheating has been committed in the polls. We are thus issuing a stern warning to those who have sinister plans and evil machinations of thwarting the will of the electorate to abandon them," Panelo said.
"Any violator will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. No one will be spared regardless of their political affiliation or station in life," he added.
Panelo also assured the readiness of the national government for the upcoming elections.
Quoting the Department of Education, he said that 36,000 schools are now ready to be used as polling precincts and 230,000 teachers as members of the Electoral Boards and technical support for Monday’s elections.
The Philippine National Police would deploy 150,000 police personnel in various parts of the country to ensure public safety and security on Election Day, he said.
He added that the PNP has launched the National Election Monitoring Action Center to monitor situations in all polling centers from Camp Crame, including the arrival of vote counting machines (VCMs), counting of ballots, and delivery of ballot boxes.
The Department of Energy has assured that there would be stable power on the day of the elections, the same being a paramount concern as electricity is required in the automated voting system, Panelo said.
He urged all Filipinos who are eligible to vote to participate in "this healthy democratic exercise" as we call on all candidates across the political spectrum to ask their supporters to observe an honest, orderly, peaceful and credible elections reflective of the people’s genuine will.
"We wish the candidates all the best. This is the time to show our Filipino bayanihan spirit in ensuring that the elections will be held without any major glitches and will reflect the true desires of the Filipino people," the official said.
Monday's polls would be the first national midterm polls under the Duterte administration. Celerina Monte/DMS