Votes pre-shading probe urged

Protesters hold a rally near the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila, where the Commission on Elections was tallying votes in the midterm polls, demanding Comelec to be transparent in auditing votes. AFP / Noel CELIS

MALACAÑANG on Thursday urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to investigate reports that preshaded ballots were used in Monday’s midterm elections in Lanao del Sur province.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Comelec should do the investigation because the reports involved an electoral matter that only the poll body could handle.

“The Comelec should investigate that. That’s the Comelec, that’s their turf. We cannot interfere in that,” he said.

Panelo spoke after a video showing women shading the ovals on ballots that were used in the elections in Lanao del Sur went viral on Facebook.

The Comelec said it was investigating the video and seeking outside help.

“I’m asking for help investigating both this video and the content it shows,” James Jimenez, spokesperson for the Comelec, tweeted on Thursday.

Jimenez said the investigation was difficult because of the paucity of information about the video.

“Notice how little information we have about the video,” he said. “We don’t know who uploaded it; we don’t know for certain when it was uploaded; no idea who the persons are; we don’t know where the video was shot, etc. These are what we need help with.”

Jimenez urged the uploader of the video to come forward and file a complaint with the Comelec.

“We encourage whoever has information on the video to come forward and file a complaint. If it’s the original uploader themselves, so much the better,” he said.

He said the scope of the activity shown in the video needed to be determined, whether it was limited to a certain place and what part of the elections it had affected.

“But it’s hard to imagine that it affected the entire Philippines,” Jimenez said.

He said the Comelec would ask Facebook and the appropriate authorities for assistance, particularly in the forensic analysis of the video.

Jimenez said the Comelec was not dismissing the video as a fake.

“It’s important to establish first the authenticity of the video as well as the accuracy of the claims being attached to the video,” he said.

The video was uploaded by the group Youth Act Now Against Tyranny on Wednesday.