COMELEC probes alleged pre-shading of ballots in viral video

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 16) — The Commission on Elections (COMELEC) is investigating a viral video of allegedly pre-shaded ballots in Lanao del Sur amid questions on the credibility of the midterm elections.

"Magrerequest kami ng (We will request) assistance from Facebook and perhaps refer to the appropriate authorities for forensic analysis," COMELEC Spokesperson James Jimenez said in a media briefing Tuesday.

The video shows a hooded person shading multiple ballots while being assisted by at least two more unidentified people. The person appears to be shading the same area on the upper part of the ballots, which contains the names of senatorial candidates.

Jimenez urged the public to not jump into conclusions, noting that the video itself does not even provide the basic details.

"Obviously there is nothing in the video that proves anything except that whatever is being shown is being done, but there is no context to it. Hindi natin alam kung kailan ginagawa 'yun, kung bakit ginagawa 'yun, kung sino ang gumagawa, kung saan ginawa, kung sino ang nagupload, kung bakit biglang nawala after being uploaded," Jimenez said.

[Translation: "We do not know why it is being done, who did it, where it was done, who uploaded it, and why it was deleted after being uploaded."]

A netizen posted the video on Thursday, noting that the original clip has been deleted. It has been retweeted over 23,000 times as of Thursday afternoon.

Despite questions on the video's authenticity, Jimenez stressed the poll body is "not dismissing it as fake just yet."

COMELEC is also urging the one who took the video or anyone privy to the incident to report to authorities.

"We encourage whoever has information on this video to come forward to file a complaint," Jimenez said.

Malacañang is leaving it to COMELEC to investigate the matter. "That's their turf, 'di tayo pwedeng makiaalam diyan (we cannot interfere)," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a separate briefing.

The COMELEC is in hot water for various election issues, including faulty vote-counting machines and hours-long delay in the transmission of election returns to the transparency server. A joint congressional panel is set to probe the glitches on June 4.

Allies of President Rodrigo Duterte have dominated the Senate race based on the partial and official canvassing.