Ballots for May 13 polls reach Manila, but some seals were broken

Official ballots for the May 13 elections were delivered to the Manila City Hall past 12 a.m. on Sunday, but some seals were noticeably broken.

Upon arrival at the Manila City Hall compound, some of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) sticker seals securing the ballots were found to be broken, according to a report by Vonne Aquino on GMA News TV’s Balitanghali on Sunday.

One of 12 plastic seals with a bar code which was tied to the locks of the trucks was also broken

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A cargo delivery representative said the seals were broken during transport as the vehicle moved.

Josephine Daza, officer-in-charge of the Manila City Treasurer’s Office, said her office was appointed by the Comelec to receive the ballots and keep them before distribution to polling precincts.

Some representatives of candidates who were at the venue to observe the delivery of ballots also noted the broken seals.

“We will be submitting our report to the Commission on Elections regarding the discrepancies that were noticed in the opening of the trucks,” Daza said.

She said candidates’ representatives may take note of the discrepancies and bring the matter to the Comelec as well.

Daza said they received 1,502 boxes for 1,502 precincts.

Each box has a label containing the ballot ID, cluster precinct number, municipality, province, and region where it will be used.

Personnel from the Manila City Treasurer’s Office joined hands in placing the ballots inside two rooms at their office.

The office’s windows, cabinet, and doors were secured with locks and seals signed by candidates’ representatives.

The whole process took six hours.

Some police officers were also deployed at the venue to provide security for the ballots.

Representatives of candidates of party-list groups may also stay outside the Manila City Treasurer’s Office to make sure the ballots inside are kept secure.

On the other hand, the Comelec said the seal at the door of the delivery truck was accidentally broken during transport.

“Mayroong seal ‘yung truck kaso may awang siya kaya napunit. Kaya ang gusto nating sabihin sa publiko na ang tingnan nila talaga is the ballot box—’yung box na ang laman ay mga balota. Iba pa ‘yun. Iba pa doon sa pinto ng truck doon sa mismong ballot na nasa box,” said Atty. Frances Arabe, Cpmelec Education and Information Division Director, in an interview in Super Radyo dzBB on Sunday.

Arabe said that a post-delivery inventory will be conducted as part of the protocol to ensure that there was no tampering done.

“I-inventory pa naman ‘yan pagdating ng office of the city or the municipal treasurer. So meron din tayong watchers doon and meron ding inventory report,” she said.

“Iko-compare mo lang ‘yan eh from the point of departure, ‘yung inventory report tapos ‘yung arrival, iche-check nila isa-isa. So from there, malalaman natin kung mayroon talagang nabawas, mayroong nabuksan, kasi even the condition of the ballot box is recorded,” she added.

Meanwhile, a Comelec delivery truck with a broken seal was also reported in Pasig City.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said it may also have been accid

entally broken due to vehicle movement.

“Sticker may have torn during movement of the truck as the ‘lap,’ or the torn edge, appears uneven,” he said in a Twitter post.

“The torn sticker is not ideal, obviously, but it is impossible to rule out accidental tearing. And as indicated, it is important to verify the state of the contents of the entire shipment—whether there are indications of tampering or pilferage,” he added.

Jimenez assured that the details of the Comelec’s plastic seals were duly-recorded and will be used for inventory. (GMA News)