GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) in South Cotabato has set contingency measures for areas with limited telecommunication signals to prevent possible delays in the transmission of results in the May 13 local and national midterm elections.
Dorothy Losa, Election Officer III of Comelec-South Cotabato, said in a briefing they have requested from their central office the provision of broadband global area network or BGAN satellite systems for polling centers that don’t have stable telecommunication signals.
She said the BGAN systems will facilitate access to communication signals via satellite for the vote counting machines (VCM) that will be deployed in election precincts.
The VCMs will mainly use the subscriber identification module or Sim cards of leading telecommunication companies Globe and Smart, she said. In case Globe or Smart will fail in certain areas, then BGAN will be used.
A report from the South Cotabato Police Provincial Office said at least 47 barangays, mostly in remote areas, in seven municipalities in the province have problems with telecommunication signals.
These are barangays Upper Klinan, Palkan, Polo, Kinilis, Lamcaliaf, Landan and Maligo in Polomolok; Miasong, Tubeng and Simbo in Tupi; Buto, Tablu, Danlag, Ambalgan, Palo 19, Liberty and Pula Bato in Tampakan; Derilon, Malaya, Lam-apus, Lambingi and Lampari in Banga; Canahay, Buenavista, Upper Sepaka, Talahik, Lambontong and Lamian in Surallah; Ned, Upper Maculan and Hanoon in Lake Sebu; and, Afus, Basag, Datal Danlag, Datal Bob, Lambuling, Lamhaku, Lamsalome, Lambangan, New Dumangas, Laconon, Salacafe, Maan, Mongocayo, Tibulok, Talufo and Tudok in Tboli.
“Some of these barangays have weak signals and there are barangays that don’t have available signals at all,” Losa said.
Aside from the 47 barangays, she said there are polling centers even in urban areas that have reported “dead spots” for Globe and Smart.
Losa said the BGAN systems will be prioritized for polling centers that don’t have communication signals.
For the other affected precincts in the remote areas, she said members of the electoral board were advised to transfer to the nearest village or town centers to conduct the transmission of election results.
“In the previous elections, some of them made the transmission at the municipal board of canvassers,” she said.
Losa said they will finalize these measures during the scheduled final sealing and testing (FTS) of the VCMs on May 6 to 10.
During the FTS, she said the VCMs will be deployed in the election precincts and tested for actual voting and transmission using 10 test ballots.