Press Release
May 4, 2010

Enrile assures transparency in Senate reception of election returns

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile today assured the public of transparency in the reception of the Certificates of Canvass (COCs) and Election Returns (ERs) in the May 10 elections. "The Senate is tasked to ensure faithful compliance with the constitutional mandate and to provide for orderly and systematic proceeding of the canvassing of COCs and ERs of candidates for the position of President and Vice President," Enrile said.

"In this regard, we have put in place rules and guidelines (Policy Order 2010-006) that will strictly be enforced 24 hours a day, everyday, starting at 6 p.m. of May 10, for as long as COCs and ERs will be brought and delivered to the Senate grounds, and subsequently transported to the House of Representatives for canvassing," he added.

Under the rules and guidelines, only duly designated Senate personnel, accredited representatives of presidential and vice presidential candidates, political parties fielding the same, Comelec officers, accredited citizen's arms and members of the media, wearing official identification tags issued by the Senate Office of the Sergeant-at-Arms (OSAA), will be allowed access to the reception and storage areas.

"In the interest of transparency, accredited personnel will be allowed to witness the reception of the printed COCs and ERs. The proceedings will be documented using photographs and video cameras," Enrile said. He assured the public that the Senate is well prepared to protect the conduct of the proceedings. "Our OSAA has already mapped out the necessary security measures that will be implemented on May 10. Retired General Jose Balajadia Jr., our head of OSAA, has already started briefing the team tasked to secure the ballots boxes and the Senate grounds," he said.

For his part, Balajadia said policemen with K-9 units or bomb-sniffing dogs will be stationed at strategic areas during the reception of the COCs and ERs.

"The moment that the COCs and ERs arrive, our K-9 units will immediately secure the ballot boxes and see if there will be any cause for concern," Balajadia said. "This is a highly anticipated electoral event and we cannot deny the possibility that unscrupulous individuals might want to disrupt the proceedings by putting an incendiary device inside the ballot boxes."

"Once the ballot boxes have been cleared, these will go through the X-ray machines. If anything else is found inside the boxes aside from the official documents, they will be brought under guard to a designated area and a Comelec official will take note of the discrepancy," he explained.

"We will only open the ballot box in question upon approval of the Comelec official, and all these will be documented properly," Balajadia added. "If the ballot boxes are cleared, they go straight to their designated holding areas, and our guards will be tasked to take note of everything on a log book."

As part of the security measures, Senate personnel will be stationed at the Senate ground floor lobby at all times to accompany Comelec officers, together with their escorts, to and from the second floor for the reception of the COCs, while another will be tasked to accompany Comelec officers and their escorts to the ground floor lobby for the reception of the ERs.

"No one without clearance will be allowed to enter and exit the premises alone," confirmed Enrile.

According to Enrile, the ballot boxes will only be transferred to the House of Representatives once he is satisfied that proper inspection, accounting and documentation of ballot boxes have been completed.

"Only upon my written order shall the ballot boxes containing the COCs be transferred to the House of Representatives while ballot boxes containing the ERs shall remain in the Senate," Enrile added.

"Our systems are ready, our Close Circuit TVs (CCTVs) are in perfect condition, and our people are more than ready to ensure a smooth and transparent reception of the COCs and ERs on May 10. I assure the people that your Senate will not fail to do its part in ensuring that this historic election, an election that is highly anticipated by everyone, including the international community, will be peaceful and transparent," Enrile vowed, adding, that "failure to do so is not an option."

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