Malaya - Comelec pressed: Explain glitches, LP says anomalies affect 3M votes

By Vince Nonato | Malaya

THE opposition Liberal Party yesterday pressed the Commission on Elections for an explanation on alleged anomalies in the May 13 elections that supposedly affected at least three million votes, even after several members of the joint congressional oversight committee on the automated election system cleared the exercise of irregularity.

The committee members, during a hearing on Tuesday, said they found no evidence of fraud and manipulation in the midterm election which was marred by malfunctioning vote-counting machines and secure digital (SD) cards

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, LP president, said the Comelec has not acted on the party’s request for a complete list of corrupted SD cards and malfunctioning vote-counting machines (VCMs) in four regions.

He said “identifying these corrupted SD cards and malfunctioning VCMs [is] critical” because the results of the election could have been affected.

He noted that the difference between the number of votes of ninth placer senator-elect Francis Tolentino and 14th placer Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV — who got the highest vote among opposition candidates — was a very close 1.4 million.

Pangilinan added the Comelec “still has not been able to adequately explain” the glitch that caused the failure to send unofficial results to the transparency server of media organizations and watchdogs for seven hours.

He said the Comelec has not turned over its technical report and released all logs of the transparency server for scrutiny.

“Until these are submitted, we withhold drawing conclusions as to the overall conduct of the elections,” he said.

Pangilinan also asked why the automated election system (AES) was certified as ready only for it to be hounded by glitches and malfunctions on election day itself.

“Why did they certify that the marking pens were good, only for the pens to be recalled? Why did they certify to the efficacy of the VCMs and the SD cards, only for the machines to bog down, and the SD cards being of poor quality in unprecedented numbers?” he said.

Pangilinan also said that since the Comelec already purchased the VCMs from Smartmatic International and no longer leases them, “The diminished role of Smartmatic and the expanded role of Comelec in the maintenance and operations of the AES place the onus of the various glitches on the poll body.”

President Duterte recently asked Comelec to “dispose” of Smartmatic as election technology provider and “look for a new one that is free of fraud” to improve the election system.

Pangilinan distanced the LP from the statement of Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice (LP) during the Tuesday hearing of the oversight committee, that “we were demolished by the tremendous resources of the administration, but in terms of accuracy and counting, I think the Comelec has really been very successful.”

All senatorial candidates of the opposition’s “Otso Diretso” senatorial slate lost in the elections.

Pangilinan said Erice was the campaign manager only of losing senatorial candidate Manuel Roxas II and not the LP and Otso Diretso coalition.

“His views are personal to him and do not reflect our own as campaign manager of the entire slate,” Pangilinan said.

Aside from Erice, joint committee co-chair Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III also expressed satisfaction over how the elections were handled and dismissed the issues as isolated.

“It’s really difficult to have a perfect, glitch-free national election. What is important is we learned from our mistakes so we will not do it again,” Pimentel said then.