Comelec refutes intl report: 2022 elections most peaceful, highest turnout ever

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 23) — The Commission on Elections denied the findings of an International Observers Mission (IOM) report saying the Philippine polls did not meet global “free and fair” standards.

"Kung talaga pong meron talagang high level of violence at no access to voting places, how come we have the highest turnout ever of elections?” said Comelec acting spokesperson John Rex Laudiangco, also reporting an 83.11% or 55-million voter turnout for this year’s polls.

[Translation: If there really was a high level of violence and no access to voting places, how come we have the highest turnout ever of elections?]

In its report, the IOM said voters were deprived of access to reliable information, voting places “without intimidation” and a “credible” vote counting system. Many voters were unable to cast their ballots with vote counting machine (VCM) malfunctions, paper jams, and other related issues. 

The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP)-sponsored group also cited the “higher level” of failure of the electronic voting system than before coupled with “blatant” vote-buying. It likewise noted a “disturbing level” of red-tagging and a number of incidents of deadly violence.

However, Laudiangco refuted this with Philippine National Police data - there were only 27 vetted election-related incidents this year, compared to 133 in 2016.

That’s why the PNP and the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) are so proud in stating that this is the most peaceful elections ever. ‘Yan po ay cino-compare namin. We’re basing our statements on facts at hindi po kami umaasa sa speculations,” said the Comelec official.

[Translation: We compare these figures. We’re basing our statements on facts and we don’t rely on speculations.]

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is presumptive president after garnering 31.1 million votes based on the Comelec’s nearly completed and unofficial tally — a huge margin. His running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, is also in the lead with 31.5 million votes.

“This election cannot be declared “free and fair” until all the illegal acts that have marred the process are dealt with,” the IOM earlier stated.