Philippine News Agency - DICT bats for improvement of election transparency thru tech fair

15 July 2019

By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz | Philippine News Agency

MANILA -- The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) showcased different ways of improving transparency and efficiency of the automated election systems (AES) in a technology fair at the DICT building in UP Diliman, Quezon City.

DICT Secretary Gregorio “Gringo” Honasan II, in a speech, said President Rodrigo Duterte has instructed the DICT to help develop an alternative AES to be used in the 2022 elections.

He said the current automated AES operated by Smartmatic was intended to eliminate delays in manual counting and can be improved.

“The objectives are, of course, speed, transparency, and credibility. There is a need to improve transparency, for better accountability,” Honasan said.

DICT Undersecretary Eliseo Rio, Jr., in an ambush interview during the event, said the inclusion of a form of manual counting and increased transparency were the factors the department cited in an improved AES.

“The whole concept, manual counting, transparent yung pag-tally, yung pag-appreciate ng makina—more or less ma-check ng tao (transparent tallying of votes, and appreciation of vote counting machines—people should be able to check these),” Rio said.

However, Rio emphasized that the DICT will not recommend any of the featured AES technologies to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) as the election body is constitutionally independent from the national government.

“Wala kaming ire-recommend. Ang amin lang, nakagawa kami ng sistema, pinakita namin kaya ng Pilipino na gawin in two months. (We won’t recommend anything. What we did was to create an AES and we showed that it can be done by Filipinos in two months),” Rio said.

He also said the Philippines’ next AES technology provider does not need to be an international company since Filipinos are fully capable of providing these services after developing their own AES.

“Gusto nga namin Pilipino kasi kaya naman ng Pilipino (We want Filipinos to do it because we can),” Rio said.

Locally-developed AES such as the Best Open Source Election System (BOSES) by father-son startup Avant-Garde Information And Communication Technology and the Precinct Automated Tallying System (PATaS) by the National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) were featured during the program.

International AES tech companies such as Smartmatic Philippines, Inc., Indra Philippines, Inc., Voatz, Bapplware Technologies, Inc., and others also took part in the fair and showcased recent advancements in AES technologies outside the country. (PNA)