The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has commenced returning the ballot boxes used for the random manual audit (RMA) in the 2022 national elections from Diamond Hotel in Manila to its origins. 

The poll body has launched the reverse deployment of ballot boxes intended for the National Capital Region. Present during the event were Comelec Education and Information Division Director James Jimenez, Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) representative in RMA Atty. Helen Graido, and Mark Malinao from the office of Comelec Commissioner Aimee Ferolino, the chairperson of the RMA Committee.

Malinao said they have decided to open 769 ballot boxes from randomly selected clustered polling precincts.

He added that the RMA committee already audited 746 ballot boxes and there were seven which were still under analysis. Moreover, six ballots were not audited anymore, with two that were closed temporarily while awaiting the election returns that were found inside the boxes and the online ERs which were not available during the audit process. 

A random manual audit in one precinct per congressional district randomly chosen by the Comelec in each province and city is mandated under the law. Any discrepancy between the automated and manual count will result in the determination of root cause and launch a manual count for the precincts affected by the computer or procedural error.

Malinao said the committee was able to process the RMA within 34 days instead of the target 45 days. 

Graido shared that the latest preliminary accuracy rate that they have computed was at 99.96%.

The said random manual audit was made possible by the Comelec, poll watchdogs like LENTE, an association of certified public accountants, and the Philippine Statistics Authority. 

Ronald Espartinez