Shalani Soledad was corrected. The photo she posted on Twitter of a torn seal she believed to indicate tampered ballot boxes is a actually a sticker of the doors of the Commission on Elections’ delivery truck.
Soledad, wife of Pasig congressional candidate Roman Romulo, posted on Twitter photos of gates or doors with the torn seal on May 3. She claimed they were ballot boxes which arrived that morning.
She then asked James Jimenez, spokesperson of Commission on Elections, if the incident was normal and sought advice what to do with them.
The photos showed a torn sticker that says: “Do not open before the voting hours of May 13, 2019 NLE.”
— Shalani Soledad (@shalanisoledad) May 3, 2019
The poll body’s spokesperson answered on May 4, “Sticker may have been torn during movement of the truck as the ‘lap,’ or the torn edge, appears uneven.”
While the tearing is not a regular occurrence, he said it could have also been an accident.
“As indicated, it is important to verify the state of the contents of the entire shipment whether there are indications of tampering or pilferage,” Jimenez said.
He initially provided her steps on how to inspect if the boxes were rigged or not.
sticker may have torn during movemnt of the truck as the "lap,” or the torn edge, appears uneven. 1st check whethr or not the plastic seal was broken/tampered and/or replaced. We can check as the serial numbr of the plastic seal used is duly-recorded in the our dispatch records https://t.co/da52OSB1du
— James Jimenez (@jabjimenez) May 3, 2019
After looking into the incident, Jimenez reported that the contents of the van were safe.
“The contents of the van are all individually sealed, individually wrapped with shrink wrap… There are security measures in place that will protect the integrity of the ballot — those are the ones we need to focus on,” he later said on CNN Philippines.
Jimenez says his speculation is that the van’s doors ripped the stickers are it moved.
“The torn edge of the sticker was uneven. This is not indicative of intent. Our conclusion is that the flapping doors of the van, the movement of the doors of the van moved, might have torn the paper seal,” Jimenez said.
Soledad’s husband Romulo is up against Ricky Eusebio for the congressional post in the midterm elections.
Comelec started transporting the ballot boxes to different parts of the country since last week.
Verifying official ballot boxes
Comelec has a protocol for the electoral board (EB) to verify the official ballots by virtue of Resolution No. 10528.
Based on section 71, the EB should ensure that the vote-counting machines (VCM) and the ballot boxes are inside the polling place at 5 am of the day of elections or on May 13 this year.
They should also make sure that both the VCM box and ballot box are sealed. Each ballot box should be empty and locked with four seals.
“After opening the package containing the official ballots, the EB Chairperson shall check the quantity and ballot IDs of the official ballots assigned to the clustered precinct to check if the quantity is correct, based on the number of registered voters and whether the ballot IDs are all the same,” the resolution stated.
The poll body previously announced that they will be reusing the ballot boxes in 2016 for this year’s elections, based on Resolution No. 10515.