THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Cagayan de Oro started distributing the official ballots to the different municipalities and barangays in Misamis Oriental and Cagayan de Oro on Wednesday.
A government-contracted cargo company delivered 360 sealed boxes containing the official ballots for Cagayan de Oro’s 277,931 voters Wednesday evening.
Cargo company Air 21 employed a delivery van and a ten-wheeler truck to the deliver the ballots to the City Hall in Cagayan de Oro where it was received by officials of the City Finance Department.
Workers took turns in hauling the boxes into a storage room of the City Finance Department at the Cagayan de Oro City hall where it will be stored waiting distribution for the May 13 senatorial and local elections.
Representatives from the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) witnessed the distribution.
Carl Cabaraban, a PPCRV volunteer, said boxes of the official ballots were already delivered to Alubijid, El Salvador Gitagum, Libertad, and Initao towns on the province’s western side and to the municipalities of Villanueva, Sugbongcogon, Medina, Talisayan, and Binuangan in the eastern part of Misamis Oriental Wednesday.
Cabaraban said the boxes arrived here in different flight schedules on Wednesday and the last to arrive was for Cagayan de Oro.
The boxes, that will be distributed to the 360 clustered precincts this city, should not be opened until the elections day on May 13, 2013.
The ballots were then deposited at the City Finance department as stated under the Omnibus Election Code (OEC).
However, Cabaraban, said they will still fight for their proposal to transfer the ballots in a “neutral ground” instead of depositing it to the treasurer’s office.
Cabaraban said their proposal was also based on the OEC where it stated that the responsibility of securing the election paraphernalia was only under the city treasurer and its personnel and there was no mention of the city treasurer’s office.
Meanwhile, the PPCRV urged more volunteers for the coming May elections as it has only an actual 3,000 people from the 6,000 actual volunteers needed to cover areas in Camiguin and Cagayan de Oro.
“We need more to augment poll watchers. At least two to three volunteers in a precinct,” Cabaraban told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro.
Cabaraban said, with only 18 days left before the elections, they are continually holding voters’ education in different parishes.
“Actually we have completed the voters’ education in all parishes but we still visited them on per invitation only to further discuss issues,” he added.
Ramon Antonio Mendoza of the election secretariat of the City Treasurers Office said the storage where the boxes full of ballots will be padlocked and will not be open until dawn on Election Day, May 13, when it will be distributed to the teachers and members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI).
“The storage room will be constantly under guard by two policemen on duty,” Mendoza said.
On the early dawn of May 13, Mendoza said the boxes will be taken out to be distributed to the teachers and BEIs who will be in charge of Cagayan de Oro’s 360 clustered precincts.
Mendoza said the boxes will be delivered first to the ten district government schools where the teachers and BEIs will wait for them.
Data from the 2010 National Statistical Commission Board (NSCB) reported that Cagayan de Oro has a total of 225,118 registered voters with barangay Carmen as having the highest registered voters with 67,583 voters followed by Kauswagan with 34,541 and Balulang with 32,531.
Monsignor Elmer Abacahin, parish priest of Alubijid, witnessed the turnover of the election materials to the treasurer’s office to ensure that the arrival of the 26 PCOS machines and ballots are safe and tamper-free before sealing the items to the designated area.
Abacahin said before the participation of PPCRV, elections in the country had been branded as dirty and riddled with fraud causing voters to lose interest to exercise their right to suffrage. (With reports from Froilan Gallardo of Mindanews and Nicole J. Managbanag)