THE COMMISSION on Elections (Comelec) will investigate the reported “spoiled ballot” given to a voter in Singapore on Monday even if the Philippine Embassy there has said it was just one “isolated incident.”
“We received later in the afternoon yesterday (Monday) a confirmation from our Singaporean post saying that indeed a ballot was given to a voter but this ballot was already considered a spoiled ballot,” Election Commission George Erwin M. Garcia told CNN Philippines on Tuesday.
“We should really investigate this incident as this should not happen again and find out why this spoiled ballot was given to the voter.”
The Singapore-based Filipino voter first reported the incident of receiving a pre-shaded ballot through social media.
“This (ballot) should have been segregated and put in an envelope for spoiled ballots so we will definitely get that answer within the next few days,” he said.
In a Facebook post on Monday, the Philippine Embassy in Singapore confirmed an “isolated incident” wherein a spoiled ballot was inadvertently given to a voter.
Mr. Garcia defined a spoiled ballot as one that was returned due to physical defects such as water damage and tearing caused by the voter.
“At this point, I think we should give our electoral board members the benefit of the doubt because from what I’ve seen in the past, they can get really tired,” he said.
“We are so lucky the voter was able to complain about the isolated case,” he added.
Vice-presidential bet Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, whose name was pre-shaded along with several senators in the incident, said reports of pre-shaded ballots are “grossly disconcerting.”
In a statement on Monday, she also urged Comelec to probe allegations of electoral irregularities in Dubai and in Singapore.
Meanwhile, the embassy in Rome has opened a pick-up site within its premises for those who earlier requested to personally claim their respective ballots instead of being sent by post.
These voters may get their mailing packets between 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. from April 11 to 17 and return the accomplished ballot on the same day, the embassy said in an advisory.
There are almost 1.7 million registered overseas Filipino voters. Absentee voting, which will be mainly by post in most countries and in-person in a few areas, started on April 10 and will be open until May 9. — John Victor D. Ordoñez and Alyssa Nicole O. Tan