Laguna town first to open polls, Comelec says


2010-05-10 08:13:02 KIMBERLY JANE T. TAN, GMANews.TV

The very first precinct to officially open its doors to the Filipino voters during the country's first nationwide automated elections is a town in Laguna province, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) reported early Monday.

Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said the first polling place to open was the Bagong Pook Elementary School in Sta. Maria, Laguna. He said that voting there began at exactly 7 a.m.

Meanwhile, Smartmatic Asia president Cesar Flores said the initial reports being received by the poll body were "encouraging."

"Thousands of people have already cast their votes so that's very encouraging, the president just cast her vote... we're very happy with the development," Flores told reporters in a chance conversation.

He said that 100 percent of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines are already in the precincts while all the compact flash (CF) cards are already in their respective municipalities, with some just awaiting to be picked up by members of Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs).

"They will be receiving those cards today," he said.

Flores likewise said there is no way that voting will be halted even if the CF cards arrive late. "Voting will continue, voting will not stop," he said.

Flores said that 238 voting machines were replaced during the initial four days of testing and sealing. Smartmatic is providing 82,200 PCOS machines for Monday's polls, more than 6,000 of which are spares.

He said they plan to post the first round of updates at around 9 a.m. at the Comelec command center at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City. — LBG/RSJ, GMANews.TV