By LITO RULONA,
The City Commission on Election is saddened over the decision of their central office in Metro Manila to scrap the proposal to hold voting in malls for the May 9 automated synchronized national and local election.
City Comelec officer Atty. Joel Dexter Nagtalon admitted that they were shocked upon learning that Chairman Andres Bautista over a press conference on Wednesday that the poll body voted 4-3 to junk mall voting.
“Medyo naluyahan mi gamay kay taas-taas na ang preparasyon namo,” he said over a local radio program.
He said this week they are about to install the areas where the mall voting would be conducted in the city. The local Comelec office has decided to place at least two mall voting precincts at SM Cagayan de Oro in Upper Carmen and Centrio Mall along CM Recto.
Nagtalon said all is set for this week pre-trial practices but due to some legal issues that the law requires the transfer of precincts 45 days before elections.
“Mosabot unta ang mga tag-iya sa mall nga dunay mga panghitabo nga wala sa among jurisdiction. Hinaut lang kami nga pahibaloon sila sa ilang top management from Metro Manila that the plan was already scrapped,” he said.
Reports from Comelec central office said that Commissioners Christian Lim, Arthur Lim, and Luie Guia changed their vote on mall voting from positive to negative adding more vote to Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon who used to be the lone dissenter from the mall voting proposal.
It was explained that the Omnibus Election Code prohibits the transfer of polling places “within 45 days before a regular election.”
Earlier, no less than Commission on Election Chair Andres Bautista announced that they allowed 86 malls all over the country to serve as voting precincts for the May 9 polls catering a target voters to 200,000.
The earlier decision stemmed from the result of the consultation conducted in 120 towns all over the country including in Cagayan de Oro and Cebu City.
Nagtalon said those scheduled to vote at the mall would be return back to their respective old voting precincts in both public elementary and high school buildings within urban and rural barangays in the city.
“Atong dawaton ang desisyon unya mangayo na lamang kita og despensa sa mga malls nato og sa katawhan nga gipatawag sa public hearing nga nag-usik sa ilang panahon,” he pointed out.