The Catholic church has no role in replacing vote counting machines (VCM) at polling precincts.
But vlogger Maharlika in a video posted on Facebook on May 9 implied that it has after her family and other voters at a precinct in Project 8, Quezon City were made to wait for a VCM to get replaced. She said at the 5:22 mark:
Sinabi ng babae na walang assurance kung kailan darating ang replacement ng machine. Malinaw po na ito ay isang paraan ng mga mandaraya…Dito sa Project 8 kasi mga ano ‘yan eh — mga Katolikong mga p— (expletive), hindi ko naman sinabing lahat. Ang mga pari mismo ay hayagan sila na sila ay dilawan, pink. So, you have to read between the lines kung sino ang suspek (The lady said there is no assurance when the machine’s replacement will come. It is clear that this is a means to cheat…Here in Project 8, they are—they are [expletive] Catholics, I’m not saying all of them are. The priests themselves blatantly said they are yellows, pinks. So you have to read between the lines who the suspect is).
The Omnibus Election Code only allows inspectors, watchers, Commission on Elections representatives and voters inside and around the polling place.
When a VCM or its secure digital (SD) card malfunctions, the Comelec’s contingency plan requires inspectors to report this to supervisors of the Department of Education assigned to the classroom. After Comelec officials are notified, city officers will keep the broken VCM as the supervisors replace the machine.
In a video of the incident that Maharlika uploaded, the Project 8 voters were given the option to wait for the VCM replacement so they could feed the ballots to the machine themselves.
While Maharlika flagged this as a cheating incident, this is part of the Comelec’s contingency plan. Voters can either shade their ballots and forego their receipt, or wait for the VCM to be replaced so they can feed their ballots themselves.
In any case, the Catholic church is not involved in the replacement of VCMs or the canvassing of votes.
The Catholic church as an institution did not endorse any candidate. Its bishops, however, called on the faithful to vote in the elections and “not gamble the country’s future.” They also urged for “three days of intense prayer” for the May 9 polls.
Several Catholic groups had endorsed presidential candidates, however. Over 1,400 members of the Clergy for the Moral Choice endorsed presidential candidate Leni Robredo and her running mate Sen. Francis Pangilinan. At least 92 priests of the Archdiocese of Cebu also expressed support the Robredo-Pangilinan ticket.
Maharlika’s video on Facebook has garnered over 18,000 views and nearly 2,000 reactions. On YouTube, it has received almost 25,000 views and 3,000 likes. (RP)