By MARILOU AGUIRRE-TUBURAN
DAVAO CITY – In Buhangin area, a voter saw the name of a dead relative while others look for the name of a living family member.
Denmark Del Mundo, 30, a chemical engineer, said his aunt who already passed away was still on the list of registered voters while Remegio Diana Sr., 63, and his wife Antipas, 59, had a hard time looking for the precinct number of their son, Remegio Jr., who was supposed to vote for the first time.
Remegio Sr., 63, a retired technician, said that since they arrived they had been looking for the name and the precinct number of his son, a nurse and a new voter. But until he and his wife already cast their votes, they did not find it.
Antipas Diana, 59, a midwife, complained that the process of the automated system is slow compared to the manual one. “Many voters could not cast their votes with this slow system,” she said. It would have been better if one (PCOS) machine could serve one instead of five polling precincts, she said.
“(President) Arroyo may have deliberately done this so that many will not be able to vote,” she said.
As early as half past seven in the morning on May 10, the Buhangin Central Elementary School, a polling center in Davao City’s second congressional district, was already jam-packed with eager voters hoping to cast votes and go home early.
But as one enters the vicinity, one would notice the disorganized lines of people looking for their names and polling precincts. Even with the PCOS machines, most of the voters encountered the problems they used to face in the previous manual elections.
In the clustered precinct 498, for example, five precincts with a total number of 820 registered voters had to use one PCOS machine. But as of 9:40 am, only 71 voters were able to cast their votes, leaving 749 more until 7:00 pm.
In this precinct cluster, a voter had to finish the entire process of voting in less than a minute so that all voters registered in the cluster can vote before the 7:00 pm closing time. But it took more than two minutes for each voter to finish voting.
Jenny Del Mundo, 30, a chemical engineer, noticed that cluster precinct 498 was not well-organized. Voters complained and were asking for their numbers from the moment they arrived. Some of the voters were saying that the previous manual system was better than the automated one because then, they can immediately vote upon their arrival at the polling precinct.
A poll watcher in this precinct earlier planned give 50 priority numbers per batch in a first come first serve basis but voters became restless. They were not amenable to be called 50 per batch. Senior citizens and pregnant women also invoked their right to be prioritized.
Except for a minor glitch, when the machine rejected one folded ballot on the first dry, the machine was doing well in clustered precinct 482. (Marilou Aguirre-Tuburan/davaotoday.com)