A Filipina data scientist based in Singapore claimed she got a “pre-shaded” ballot when she voted Monday at the Philippine Embassy in the city-state.
The Embassy immediately clarified that the ballot given to Filipino registered voter Cheryl Abundo was not pre-shaded but rather a “spoiled ballot” from one of the voters last Sunday, the first day of overseas absentee voting for 2022 presidential elections.
“The Embassy is aware of only one incident where one spoiled ballot from yesterday’s voting exercise was inadvertently and unintentionally given to a voter this morning,” the Embassy said in a statement.
Business Mirror reached out to Abundo through her Facebook account user “Cheryl Ab” and she agreed to publish her post and identify her. Abundo used to be a student in Singapore and now working as a data scientist in the city-state.
From the beginning of her post, Abundo acknowledged that the incident “could be an honest mistake” but she decided to post this incident for the Filipino voters to be vigilant of their votes.
“Kakatapos lang bumoto sa embahada. The ballot I received came pre-shaded. Nang binalik ko para palitan, ito raw ay spoiled ballot from yesterday. It could be an honest mistake pero hindi dapat inaallow na mangyari ang mga ganitong pagkakamali. Be vigilant and report to the watchers and marshals if it also happens to you,” Abundo wrote.
When asked by one of her Facebook friends whose names were shaded in the spoiled ballot given to her, she replied, “VP Duterte and some senators, walang president.”
Her post went viral, some exaggerating that there is already a rigging of votes. This prompted The Philippine Embassy in Singapore to issue a disclaimer.
“It has come to the attention of The Philippine Embassy that some unverified sources allege that pre-shaded ballots have been given to voters who came to the Embassy to cast their vote today. This is not true,” the Philippine Embassy said in a statement.
The Embassy said this incident was “subsequently recorded in the official OVF No. 11-A (Minutes of Voting for AES Voting Posts.”
As per Comelec rules, “Each spoiled ballot shall be so marked by writing the word “spoiled” diagonally across the face of the ballot, signed by any member of the (special board of election inspectors), and placed inside the compartment for spoiled ballots.”
It is not known yet how the spoiled ballot was mixed with the regular ballots but this has raised concern of the integrity of the absentee voting in Singapore.
The ambassador at the Embassy is a political appointee, Joseph Del Mar Yap, husband of Filinvest president and Chief Executive Officer Josephine Gotianun Yap.
The Embassy stressed that this was an “isolated incident.
“The Embassy assures the public that it is totally committed to provide a system of honest and orderly overseas absentee voting that upholds the integrity of the voting process,” it added.
Image credits: Bloomberg