Liberal Party Candidates Get Endorsement Of Philippine Sect That Block Votes

Manila, Philippines - The Liberal Party got a boost on Wednesday after a Philippine sect known for block voting endorsed the party’s presidential and vice presidential candidates to its five million members.

An Iglesia ni Cristo local church in Quezon City announced during a dawn liturgical service that the sect will support Sen. Benigno Aquino III for president and Sen. Manuel Roxas for vice president. The INC also drew a list of senators it will support. The senatorial list is a mixture from the different political parties.

The INC’s senatorial slate is made up of: Rozzano Rufino Biazon, Franklin Drilon, Teofisto Guingona III and Ralph Recto from Aquino’s Liberal Party; Ramon Revilla Jr. and Manuel Lapid from Lakas-Kampi-CMD; Pilar Juliana Cayetano and Ferdinand Marcos Jr. from the Nacionalista Party; Miriam Santiago from the People’s Reform Party; Jose Estrada from the Partido ng Masang Pilipino; and independent candidate Vicente Sotto III.

Aquino had three meetings with INC leaders to convince the sect to support the Liberal Party.

Meanwile, the IT company that provided the vote counting machines said Wednesday it has finished reconfiguring the memory cards to be used in the 76,000 vote counting machines.

The defects were discovered over the weekend when a comparison of results of test run in different parts of the country of the Precinct Count Optical Scan showed discrepancy between automated and manual tallies.

Smartmatic-TIM Asia-Pacific President Cesar Flores explained the glitch was caused by the memory card being programmed to read single-spaced printing on the paper ballots. The paper ballots had single-spaced print on the front side which listed the names of national position candidates. On the back side, local candidates were listed using double-spaced printing, which caused the misreading of some of the trial ballots used.

The problem has led Smartmatic and the Philippine Commission on Elections to suspend delivery of the remaining PCOS machines until Thursday.

Some groups called for a return to a manual count or even postpone the election on May 10. Among those who have suggested postponing the national and local election by at least 15 days is Romulo Macalintal, the lawyer of outgoing Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

However, Comelec has turned down both proposals. Comelec Chairman Jose Melo explained postponement of the election goes against the constitution which specifies the second Monday of May as the date of the regular election for the president and vice president. Melo also cited Section 5 of the Omnibus Election Code which specified that the election could only be postponed due to serious causes such as violence, terrorism, loss or election paraphernalia or records, or acts of God and nature.