Daily Tribune – Non-accountable Comelec again

By Ninez Cacho-Olivares | Daily Tribune

As expected, nothing substantial came out of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Automated Election System (JCOC-AES) and, again, predictably claimed it had found no evidence of fraud and manipulation in the 13 May elections, even as some weak recommendations have been made to plug vulnerabilities in the country’s polls.

“Year after election year, the poll body, always seemingly bewitched by Smartmatic, easily dismisses these machines churning out fraud and again, no accountability for the massive fraud is extracted by the members of the
JCOC-AES?

A very simple conclusion expected from the joint committee. Since there was no evidence of automated fraud, then no claimed evidence, just the vulnerability of the machines.

Surely, something smells wrong with the conclusion, since what was also found were vulnerabilities in the automated election system — especially with the same vulnerabilities, such as glitches, defective Secure Digital cards and vote transmission stoppage for hours and always in the time of sleep in the dark of the night, resuming the machine count with over 90 percent of the vote, with no voter knowing from where his vote came and millions of votes probably altered to make some candidates win.

An online report said that members of the JCOC-AES had called out the Commission on Elections (Comelec) over defective election materials noted just before and during the May 2019 polls, saying these could have disenfranchised voters who were forced to wait hours to cast their ballots.

What? Just a weak slap on the Comelec commissioners and their officers’ combined wrists?

Year after election year, the poll body, always seemingly bewitched by Smartmatic, easily dismisses these machines churning out fraud and again, no accountability for the massive fraud is extracted by the members of the JCOC-AES?

Still, why should these “vulnerabilities” found be dismissed, and without the committee recommending any penalty for the Comelec screwing up an important ingredient of democracy?

How can the electorate know for certain that those who are scheduled to sit when the 18th Congress opens are truly the people’s elected choice, and not the cheating counting machines’ choice, just on Comelec’s excuses such as no proof has been found and that the machines were old and vulnerable to breakdowns? The worst of the Comelec excuses on retaining Smartmatic machines is that there has to be a legal ground to get rid of Smartmatic as the service provider.

Has the Comelec signed a lifelong contract with Smartmatic to use and/or replace the old with the new, despite the many incidents of fraud found? Why is the JCOC-AES insisting on automated polls, given the sanguine reaction of the members of the committee?

Evidently, Comelec is getting away scot-free. Again.

Committee chair and the unconstitutional three consecutive termer Sen. Koko Pimentel, as well as other members of the oversight panel, expressed satisfaction with the overall conduct of the polls.

“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.

Say again? In all four automated polls in the country, it is fact that all these supposed “glitches,” despite an equal number of congressional probes, surface. Not similar glitches, mind you, but the very same man-made glitches, a new name for the man-made miracles that come every automated election year.

If Pimentel, who will be serving a consecutive 18 years in the Senate, says that it is “difficult to have a glitch free national election,” isn’t he saying that we have to accept the Smartmatic and Comelec deficiencies and yes, manipulated automated count results every three years, since we cannot have a “perfect glitch-free” (a.k.a. fraud) polls?

Sen. Francis Pangilinan called on the Comelec to ensure that the problems will not happen again in the 2022 presidential polls.

What? He is urging the Comelec to make sure the same problems will not recur, despite the fact that these same problems recur every election year since 2010. The Comelec certainly is hardly the body that can deliver on any promise that such problems will not happen again.

Not only that. Comelec has earned the reputation of being a lawbreaker of the automated law.

There is still the problem of the digital signature where the automated law is being violated by the Comelec every election. There has been no effort at all on the part of the Comelec to use digital signatures in running the automated elections as mandated by law to ensure security of the voting process.

So what does the violating Comelec have to say, after four automatic elections from 2010 to the most recent one, this year’s no digital signature one?

Comelec, so used to getting away with the murder of democracy has the gumption to say that it lacked the time to implement the system with the Department of Information and Communications Technology.

What? Comelec has all of three years to prepare for every automated polls and this most important feature is being dismissed even when the digital signature is the guarantee in making the ballot and other documents “immutable” or unalterable.

And all these combined make a case of “probable cause” are not enough for the JCOC-AES members and chair to exact accountability from the poll body that does nothing year after year to go after the members and head of the Comelec cheating syndicate.

But why bother with this? After all, these politicians that Comelec says won their seats, honestly earned, or not, will be seated as “representatives” of the Filipinos, dubious or not.

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