Daily Tribune - No fraud in the time of Smartmatic?

2 September 2018

By Ninez Cacho-Olivares | Daily Tribune

“Despite the many instances of electoral fraud, the Comelec continues to tap Smartmatic as its provider.

President Duterte has reportedly guaranteed that the 2019 elections will not be marred by fraud and that votes will be counted correctly.

He was quoted as saying during his speech before his political party members of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino that the 2019 polls “will be clean. Votes cast will be counted correctly.”

Duterte also mentioned several measures to be implemented during poll time, such as checkpoints being set up nationwide to limit the number of security guards and firearms of the candidates and to “make sure we have a secured campaign and election period.”

He added that firearms and uniformed security will be limited to only two for both and every candidate will be assigned security to ensure that there will be no room for terrorism.

While it is true that often, during elections, especially during local polls, candidates get shot at and even killed—not by terrorists but by rival politicians—especially from private armies of political warlords and kingpins.

There were also, in the past, a lot of ballot snatchings which were rampant when the country was still under a manual vote count system.

However, since the 2010 election, which was a presidential election, the country adopted the automated election system where the alleged serial fraud votes manufacturer, Smartmatic, has always been the choice of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to serve as its systems provider.

Strangely, despite the many instances of electoral fraud that occurred using Smartmatic as the service provider from 2010 to 2016 to the forthcoming senatorial and local polls, the Comelec continues to tap Smartmatic as its provider.

There is hardly any doubt that there was massive electoral fraud that occurred during the 2016 presidential and senatorial elections. There must have also been fraud engaged in by local politicians, although these were hardly highlighted in the media, as the focus was on both the presidential and senatorial elections.

It can hardly be denied that during the automated election count managed by Smartmatic using its servers, millions of votes said to have been lost by vice-presidential bet Bongbong Marcos were added to Liberal Party bet Leni Robredo. This was a clear case of cheating by a Smartmatic technician-official together with a Comelec cheat, both of whom were caught red-handed fiddling the Smartmatic machine and server.That there was fraud can easily be evidenced in the manual recount of votes in the Marcos protest against Robredo.

“So why, after all these years, has Congress not moved a finger to come up with such a law?

But the fraud was not limited to Marcos and Robredo. Even many senatorial candidates were cheated either out of their victory or their usual top 3 rankings.

Candidates who were virtual political unknowns nationwide even got the first three places and one reelectionist senator who was never a topnotcher in the past, suddenly topped the senatorial polls.

What surprises, however, is the fact that despite the many electoral flaws of the Smartmatic machines and the automated fraud that characterizes Smartmatic’s many instances of being caught red-handed at engaging in some form of fraud, the Comelec continues to hand over the poll systems contract to Smartmatic which should cause suspicion of corruption engaged in sometime between the contract signing and the election proper.

Even odder is the fact that both the House of Representatives and the Senate, under a joint committee on this poll issue and headache, do bring up the subject of electoral fraud and speak among themselves of either doing away with Smartmatic and fully automated polls, or come up with a law calling for hybrid polls or a mix of manual voting and count, alongside an automated vote count. But it has always been all talk, no action.

So why, after all these years, has Congress not moved a finger to come up with such a law?

And despite the many marks of fraudulent polls that are allegedly managed by Smartmatic machines, every Comelec chief from 2010 to 2018 has hired Smartmatic for its automated election system in the cost of billions.

One can hardly blame the new leadership in the Comelec on this matter, as it was the Comelec under its then chief, Andres Bautista, who contracted Smartmatic for the 2019 polls.

It may be a pipe dream for President Duterte to guarantee clean and honest elections and a truthful vote count. Not even checkpoints and less bodyguards will guarantee a truthful vote count unless Smartmatic and the Comelec cheating syndicate, which is no secret, are still around to cheat the electorate of its sovereign will.