By Ninez Cacho-Olivares | Daily Tribune
With elections scheduled in 2019, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista announced that the poll body has six options in picking the automated election system (AES) to be used in the mid-term polls.
Bautista said the options include the refurbishment of some 81,896 precinct count optical scan machines from Smartmatic used in the 2010 and 2013 polls and to exercise the agency’s option to purchase the vote counting machines utilized in the May 2016 elections.
Also included is a combination of the two options — the lease of new optical mark reader machines, use of other systems and the combination of five options.
“The Comelec is open to all possible options. One thing that we have clearly learned from the past elections is that we need time to prepare for the polls and we have one year, nine months and 18 days to go before the May 2019 local and national elections,” Bautista said during the fair held recently.
It certainly looks like the Comelec chairman hasn’t learned — or refuses to learn the important lessons from the past elections, if all he is worried about is that he has to prepare for the 2019 polls early.
If he hasn’t learned the more important lesson, it is mainly because he is apparently still considering the Smartmatic options, which as almost everyone knows, Smartmatic, from the time it came in with its machines, elections in the country, especially presidential and senatorial elections, have been marked by automated fraud, with Comelec not doing anything about the fraud nor even blacklisting Smartmatic.
One only needs to recall the fact that Smartmatic during the presidential polls in 2016, without informing or seeking permission from the Comelec en banc, illegally fiddled with the machines and their data, with the assistance of Comelec personnel and yes, even Bautista, the Comelec chairman, who went along with the Smartmatic official’s excuse that the alteration in the machine was merely cosmetic, which clearly was not, since millions by way of votes in the vice presidential race favoring candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, were lost to now Vice President Leni Robredo, when the Philippine world was asleep.
It was announced by Bautista and the Smartmatic official, prior to the automated polls, that steps had been taken to ensure fraud-free elections, as no one could fiddle with the machines since there were two passwords, with Smartmatic having half of it, while Bautista had the other half. Yet the fraud occurred, with millions of votes clearly transferred from one candidate to the other, and with the two vice presidential candidates having merely a difference of some 250,000 votes.
Yet there went Bautista, again, considering tapping Smartmatic for the 2019 polls, and noticeably, Bautista never mentioned considering the hybrid of a quick machine counting of votes and at the same time, have a manual count, to eliminate automated fraud.
Seven local and foreign companies showcased their systems during the technology fair, yet for the most part, it appears that Bautista’s options lean heavily on the fraud laden Smartmatic.
The seven local and foreign companies present during the firm were the system of the precinct automated tallying system, transparent election system, Smartmatic International Corp., IP Converge Data Services Inc., Laxton Group, DBP Data Center and Arronet Solutions Integrator Inc.
As Department of Information and Communication Technology (DICT) Secretary and Comelec Advisory Council (CAC) chairman Rodolfo Salalima said, the fair was meant to provide the council with a venue to choose what to use in the 2019 elections.
He remarked that “since the start of the automated elections, our country has made a great leap toward faster delivery of election results. But I cautioned that accuracy and the truth must not be sacrificed for supersonic speed,” he said.
Bautista said he hoped the multisectoral CAC will submit its recommendation on “the most appropriate, secure, applicable and cost effective technology to be applied in future elections.”
That’s the usual line they in the Comelec take, but if the past is repeated, no matter what the CAC recommends, the poll chairman junks the recommendations and decides on his own, the system to be used for the polls, and always, the Comelec, no matter who sits as chairman, picks Smartmatic.
Then too, there is a Comelec cheating syndicate and the Comelec commissioners certainly know of its existence, but apparently do not do anything about it.
Frankly, with Philippine elections marked with automated fraud every election year, it is time for Congress to junk automated polls for many reasons.
The true will of the Filipinos, year after year of automated polls, has been thwarted.