Philippine News Agency - Smartmatic VCMs accuracy questioned

20 July 2019

By Christine Cudis | Philippine News Agency

MANILA -- The 2019 midterm elections have passed but like the others before it, it is not without controversy. Smartmatic's vote-counting machines (VCMs) once again disappointed many with technical glitches casting doubt on voters and candidates alike.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has used Smartmatic VCMs, previously known as precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, since the first automated elections in 2010. In 2018, the poll body decided to buy the 97,000 VCMs used in the 2016 elections.

Lawyer Glenn Chong, former Congressman of Biliran, thinks the machines are either manipulated or simply not usable anymore.

During his guesting at the Philippine News Agency’s Pros and Cons segment that airs on YouTube and PTV4, Chong lamented how his votes were counted after his team delivered their report on the election results.

“It is the worst election ever. In Camarines Sur-- my scores counted the same as the precinct numbers. In precinct 11, the machines counted 11 points; in precinct 12 it said 12; and 13 votes in precinct 13,” he enumerated.

“Funny yung tina-track ng results yung number ng precincts. Anomaly talaga yun (It’s funny that the machines track its results from the precinct numbers. Clearly, that’s an anomaly),” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez also reacted during the show.

In the 2013 elections, the group of former election commissioner Gus Lagman filed an electoral sabotage case against officials of technology provider Smartmatic.

After the May 13 elections, Vic Rodriguez, spokesperson of former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., also criticized the efficiency of the VCMs when several hundreds malfunctioned during the canvassing of votes for the midterm elections.

“The issue here is credibility, at this point, immaterial na wala pang napatunayan. Maingay na eh, kahit maglagay ka ng sistema na wala ng tiwala ang tao, it might be the best solution to just not use it anymore,” Jimenez said.

Jimenez, however, acknowledged that Comelec cannot prevent Smartmatic from joining the bidding to provide the service.

However, as the procuring entity, it has the power to blacklist Smartmatic from joining the bidding as long as there is a legal basis.

Chong already sent a letter to the National Board of Canvassers asking for a full forensic investigation on the issue. He is also gathering other candidates with complaints against the efficiency of the machines.

President Rodrigo Duterte himself also stepped into the issue, calling for the removal of Smartmatic in favor of more fraud-proof elections.

"Kindly, I am now asking you as a co-equal body, it's just promoting turmoil, please do not use it," the President said earlier. (PNA)