THE final testing and sealing (FTS) of the vote-counting machines (VCMs) all over Northern Mindanao Region officially started May 5, an official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) reported.

Comelec-Northern Mindanao regional director Wilfred Jay Balisado said FTS is important to the coming polls since it allows them to check if all the VCMs are counting right and working properly, and to also avoid technical problem on election day.

"Testingan nato ang machine kung mugana siya kay kung mugana na i-seal na dayon siya para ma-preserve ang integrity sa VCMS," Lawyer Balisado said.

The FTS involves the initialization of the machines, voting by 10 people, feeding of the filled ballots and printing of the election returns.

He added that the sealing process also gives a sense of assurance to the people that the VCMs and election paraphernalia will be untouched until May 9.

After the FTS, the VCMs will be left on the polling precincts under maximum security.

Should problems occur, Balisado said, a technician will immediately conduct basic troubleshooting to the VCM.

"Kung dili gyud nila kaya, i-report immediately para kung kinahanglan gyud ug replacement, ma-aksyunan dayon before sa pili-ay," he added.

"Complete naman pud ang atong VCMs sa Region 10 (Northern Mindanao), we do not have the figures yet, but ang uban nahatod na while ang uban ready for deployment na gyud," he said.

Under Comelec Resolution No. 9981, BEIs are given five days, from May 2 to 6, to finish the final dry run, an end-to-end process that will check if the VCMs accept the ballots and if the count of the machines matches to the manual count that will be conducted after the FTS.

Asked about the security before and on the election day, Balisado said, they meet with police officials everyday to ensure peaceful polls.

Police Superintendent Faro Antonio Olaguera, chief of Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo), said its police force is ready.

"I can categorically say that we are prepared, we are ready, actually on May 2 we had meetings with the 2GO shipping line for the deployment and later on the retrieval of election paraphernalia and VCMs, of course yung mga security deployments natin," Olaguera said.

A special patrol will be established on the boundary of Cagayan de Oro and Bukidnon, Olaguera said, to keep possible election-related violence such as insurgency to spill in the city while the election is ongoing.

"Dili gyud ta mag-kumpyansa kay anything is possible," Olaguera added.

Also, two representatives from the United States Embassy will arrive on Sunday to observe the conduct of the elections in the city, Olaguera said.