The Philippine Star - Hybrid voting system for 2019 polls pushed

16 August 2018

By Janvic Mateo | The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — A former lawmaker who has alleged massive fraud in the 2016 elections is pushing for the use of a hybrid system for next year’s polls.

Speaking to The Chiefs on Cignal TV’s One News on Wednesday, former Biliran representative Glenn Chong said going back to manual counting of votes will be more transparent than the automated system implemented since 2010.

But instead of returning to a fully manual system, Chong said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) can adopt a hybrid system where the results will be transmitted following a manual count.

The voting will also be by shading to prevent issues on the names written and the actual handwriting of the voters.

“It’s only the voting and counting that (are) manual. From the time that the results are produced, you transmit. You actually produce the same system as Smartmatic (for the transmission),” he said.

According to Chong, the shift to an automated system had a negative impact on transparency, credibility and integrity of the elections in the country.

“When the election is manual, the cheating is also manual and it is susceptible to perception and observation. You can catch those who are committing fraud,” he said.

“But in an automated election when you do not know (how the votes are counted), how can you check that the system really works?” he added.

Chong claimed irregularities in the 2016 elections, citing issues such as the process of capturing the ballot images, earlier transmission of votes and the change of servers in the middle of the transmission of votes.

‘Easier said than done’

In the same program, election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said Chong’s proposal to adopt a hybrid system is easier said than done.

Macalintal noted that reverting to manual counting of votes means that more people will have to be in the precincts just like in the past.

“You cannot immediately transmit that because there will be objections, especially the losing candidate. It may be more (susceptible to) tampering, terrorism,” he added.

Macalintal, a lawyer of Vice President Leni Robredo, challenged Chong to show an actual instance of a vote for one candidate that was counted for another.

He noted that no case of actual fraud using the voting machines had been proven since the country shifted to automated polls in 2010.

“In all the election protests, hundreds and hundreds of election protests that were filed since the 2010 automated election, not a single election protest was ever pursued successfully,” he said.

“You have to distinguish cheating from error... In the automated (system), there is no cheating in the counting (of the machines). Maybe error. But was it (deliberate) cheating?” he added in Filipino.

Responding to this, Chong vowed to show proof of the supposed fraud in the next Senate hearing on the matter.

Not connected to Marcos

Chong also denied that he is a lawyer of former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. despite documents showing that he was authorized to represent Marcos before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal and the Comelec.

He said he did not give his permission for his name to be included in the letters, adding that he is ready to address the matter before the Senate.

He also pledged to name people allegedly involved in selling government positions.