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PIA Press Release

Sudden rains fail to disrupt long lines of voters in Southern Leyte polling places

By Bong Pedalino

Maasin City (May 10) -- Short bursts of passing downpour every now and then brought about by a weather system called inter-tropical convergence zone (ITCZ) did not dampen the interest and excitement of new and old voters as they patiently wait for their turn to cast their votes in various precincts here.

The slight drizzle, which lasted ten minutes on average, may have sent those without umbrellas to seek shelter above their heads, but as soon as the rains stopped they were back again in their respective spot among the meandering and winding queue.

"Every clustered precinct should have only 500 voters at most so the lines would not be this long," commented a voter who has just finished casting his vote at the Rosa Espina Yniguez Memorial School (REYMS) but unable to go out of the corridor of the school building because of the surprise rain.

Those who came prepared with umbrellas did not move an inch, though, from the line.

A PCOS machine got paper jammed in precinct cluster 15 for barangay Tagnipa here, staggering the traffic of voters for a few minutes, but it was consequently fixed by the Smartmatic technician, and the balloting resumed.

At Maasin Central School, the voting place for barangays Abgao and Tunga-tunga, incumbent local officials Gov. Damian Mercado and Cong. Roger Mercado were seen casting their votes this morning.

City Mayor Maloney Samaco was also slated to vote here.

Precinct Cluster 3 in barangay Abgao earlier experienced a troubled PCOS during the sealing and testing process last Saturday, but this was solved with the arrival of an alternate voting machine.

The usual problem the cropped up since the polls opened at 7:00 in the morning were the searching of names in voters' list -- and the long wait, disturbed every now and then by the passing rain.

The central office of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) had extended the close of voting hours from 6:00 to 7:00 pm today, obviously to accommodate the long lines.

There were no other serious problems observed as the voting got underway in the city and in other parts of Southern Leyte province, according to the Police Provincial Office.

At the municipality of Bontoc, Police said there were no reports of untoward incidents as the voting was in progress, and all the 46 PCOS machines for the municipality were working quite well.

But in this city, two more PCOS machine bugged down, one at barangay Mantahan and in barangay Asuncion, in addition to the previous two PCOS at barangays Pansaan and Ma. Clara which also did not function because of faulty data cards.

City Election Officer Lawrence Gelsano said voting in these places still went on as voters still shaded the ballots while waiting for alternate flash cards.

Gelsano said by noon today he will constitute the City Board of Election Inspectors, adding that he expected the result in local races to be finished before midnight and the winners consequently proclaimed.

It is still cloudy the whole morning, and bursts of rain can be expected to wet the polling places any time of the day, but the warmth and excitement of voters were not in any way affected.

And as tradition goes, isn't it that rains are blessings? (PIA-Southern Leyte) [top]

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