By AIRA MARIE E. SIGUENZA
MANILA – Frustrated, sad, and angry.
These are what young Filipino voters felt when they headed to poll precincts to cast their votes for the first time during the May 9 elections.
Even before the daybreak, voters arrived in their voting precincts. However, they were dismayed to find lack of coordination, long queues, malfunctioning vote-counting machines (VCMs), and other irregularities.
“After I voted, I witnessed how the rest of voters were stuck because the machines stopped working and the SD cards malfunctioned. There were voters in our area who waited until 2:00 in the morning just to vote,” Jannah Rabago, 20, a second-year college student taking Bachelor of Secondary Education Major in Biology at University of the Philippines – Diliman and a first-time voter told Bulatlat in an interview.
In Kaligayahan Elementary School in Quezon City, the same long queues plague the polling precinct. Among those who waited for at least three hours was first-time voter Troy Matavia, 20, a first year geography student at the University of the Philippines – Diliman.
He also noticed that campaign materials were being distributed outside the polling precinct and the streets were flooded with sample ballots of local and national candidates.
Election watchdog Kontra Daya has received more than 4,000 reports from citizens all over the country, where 1,370 have already been verified as of May 11. Among these reports are 577 cases of machine failures including rejection of ballots and failure in issuing receipts that resulted in voting delays.
Even after the voting closed by 7 p.m., voters can still be seen lining up until midnight waiting for the replacement of defective VCMs and SD Cards. In a polling precinct in Teacher’s Village, Quezon City, the machine only arrived in the morning after the election day. Because of this, calls for the extension of voting hours have arisen, however, the Commissions on Elections remain heedless, claiming that the irregularities were only minor.
Kontra Daya expressed their dismay over the Commission on Election’s lack of action, stating that it serves to add to its long list of shortcomings, “Long lines in precincts were the result of Comelec’s and Smartmatic’s lack of preparation and testing of vote-counting machines. Its inaction only worsens their neglect over the state of the 2022 elections.”
Amid the reported irregularities and a considerable number of voters unable to cast their votes, the commission pursued in counting the results of the 2022 National Elections. As of this writing, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte are still leading the presidential and vice-presidential race by more than 16 million and 22 million difference respectively with opposition Robredo-Pangilinan.
Several individuals and groups expressed dismay over the partial and unofficial result, among them is first-time voter Kristine Parajillo, 21, a third year BS Psychology student at Ateneo de Manila University.
“I was confused when I saw the results in the news because there are many cases of malfunctioning VCMs so you would think that the counting will be delayed but on the contrary, I was unhinged due to the fast-phased counting. I am also angry because of Comelec’s disregard for the people’s call for extension and their denial of their incompetence,” said Parajillo.
Due to this, supporters of the Robredo camp and progressives staged a protest in front of Comelec a day after the election.
“I need to express my sentiments so I joined the protest for the first time. I feel like I need to do something and there is an urgency for the Filipino people to show up and stand for their rights,” Matavia shared.
Representative and first nominee of youth sectoral group Kabataan Partylist Raoul Manuel called on the Filipino people and the youth to unite against disinformation and historical revisionism that is happening.
“We have the right to question, complain, and protest because we saw anomalies in the national elections. As Filipino people, what we can do is learn our history and those who fought before us against dictators and corrupt officials. We have no one to lean on but ourselves to collectively stand up and fight for our rights,” Manuel said. (JJE, RVO)