THE CHAIRMAN of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday directed election officials from four provinces and three cities to explain why several ballot boxes sent to Congress for the vote canvassing for president and vice-president did not contain certificates of canvass.  

“This omission has put into question the professionalism of Comelec,said Comelec Chairman Saidamen B. Pangarungan in a memo addressed to the provincial supervisors dated May 26, a day after the proclamation of the winners for the two posts.    

The provinces are Pampanga, Sultan Kudarat, Surigao del Sur, and Sulu, while the cities are Manila, Mandaluyong, and Cagayan de Oro.  

Taguig and Pateros were also cited for a lapse during the canvassing, but the issue has been determined to involve labeling. The certificates of canvass for Taguig and Pateros were contained in separate ballot boxes despite being transmitted as one area to Congress.  

Mr. Pangarungan gave the officials two days to submit their respective explanations.  

Election Commissioner Marlon S. Casquejo told a press briefing on Wednesday that Comelec would investigate whether the certificates were misplaced on purpose or inadvertently.  

He said that the agency would decide whether to sanction the officials involved. “If it is justifiable, we can probably look past it, otherwise we can make sanctions based on Civil Service rules,Mr. Casquejo said in Filipino.  

Meanwhile, Comelec has granted an additional P2,000 pay each to teachers who had to work extra hours due to delays caused by breakdowns of vote-counting machines and defective SD cards. 

In a resolution dated May 25, the Comelec full court said that the order was pursued following a recommendation made by its finance division. 

The Department of Education earlier proposed an additional P3,000 pay for teachers who put in longer hours due to technical problems.  

Election Commissioner George Erwin M. Garcia told a press briefing on Monday that the election body could only provide P2,000 each based on the agencys available funds.  

The election agency would be releasing about P20 million for the additional payments for electoral board members, he added.   

Comelec said that more than 900 defective vote-counting machines were replaced, while 469 SD cards were regenerated on election day. John Victor D. Ordoñez