Instead of releasing partial, unofficial results and providing “trends��� based on unreliably tallied votes, the Comelec must order the manual counting of votes.” – Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – As soon as voting precincts closed, partial unofficial votes cast for senators are already being broadcasted in the early evening of election day. The Comelec reportedly brushed off and belittled the complaints of widespread PCOS-related breakdowns, inconveniences to voters, etc. and promised fast election results.
But from the first hours of voting, various groups and election watchdogs had reported major glitches being suffered in various precincts all over the country. Along with cases of vote-buying and presence of armed men near voting places, tales of PCOS machines returning ballots or abruptly shutting down, some machines needing manual tweaks to function, others serving like unsecured manual ballot boxes, corrupted CF cards, immediately depleted ink, not-so-indelible ink, absence of technicians, amongst others, were reported and documented during election day.
The problems Filipinos faced on election day “are not minor glitches of the AES; the sheer number of incident reports confirms the earlier fears we have expressed,” said Kabataan Partylist President Terry Ridon. He pointed to the Aquino government and Comelec as accountable for not addressing PCOS problems beforehand.
“Massive electoral fraud is inevitable, and Team PNoy stands to gain the most from this electoral brouhaha,” said Kabataan Partylist President Atty. Terry Ridon.
“With COMELEC’s nonchalance to the glitches we fear that this is all part of the regime’s game plan to manipulate the elections,” said Andrew Zarate, Anakbayan NCR Spokesperson, in another statement.
Distrust of election results which the Comelec is supposed to be tallying now can be traced to past decisions of the Comelec that impinged on the security, accuracy and transparency of automated elections. While there was still time, it had denied scrutiny of the PCOS source codes, the program running the PCOS machines for “reading” the peoples’ votes. The Comelec also shut off major security features of these PCOS machines at the same time that it “attacked progressive candidates and party lists,” as Anakbayan-NCR’s Zarate said.
“It should also be noted how the surveys conditioned the minds of voters on the LP coalition’s overwhelming victory. And in all barefacedness, the president himself campaigned. All these point to an all-out effort to secure the dominance of the ruling Cojuangco-Aquinos clique,” Anakbayan said.
Faulty PCOS machines make the mid-term elections very vulnerable to fraud, said Connie Bragas-Regalado, chairwoman and nominee of Migrante Partylist.
She cited that in some clustered precincts where ballots were being rejected by PCOS machines, voters were advised by the BEI to ‘leave their ballots and they themselves would feed the ballot into the PCOS machine after 7p.m., when the precinct closes down.
“We ask Comelec, is this even legal? How can they ensure that these ballots would be guarded and would not be tampered with? Filled ballots lying around precincts are very tempting to those who want to cheat or take advantage of the situation,” Bragas said.
Ridon said with the state of the elections, it is easy to deduce that “massive, organized and planned” electoral fraud is currently taking place.
Election results now questionable
Because of the Aquino government’s lack of transparency in the conduct of the Automated Election System, the results of this year’s elections would not be credible, the labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno said in a statement.
KMU explained that at no point in the process would the count being made by the PCOS machines be compared and checked with the actual votes cast. The labor center said this year’s elections retained the obscure system used by the Comelec in the 2010 elections.
KMU also denounced how under Aquino, “voters, poll watchdogs and other stakeholders continue to be denied any means to verify if votes are being counted accurately or not.”
For credible elections
Instead of releasing partial, unofficial results and providing “trends” based on unreliably tallied votes, the Comelec must order for the manual counting of votes, Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Neri Colmenares reiterated today.
“The people’s constitutional right to suffrage should be the main concern of Comelec. It must do its utmost that all votes are counted and only a manual counting can remedy this situation,” said Rep. Colmenares. “Voters whose ballots were rejected by the PCOS must insist that their votes be recorded and all rejected ballots must be counted by the BEIs and must be canvassed by the Board of Canvassers. Comelec must order the BEIs to count the votes of those rejected by the PCOS. After all, it’s not the fault of the voter but of the machine.”
Colmenares also urged the voters go after Smartmatic “who practically committed estafa when it received billions of pesos without informing us that it does not own what it is selling. We should also go after Comelec officials even during the Melo commission who led us into this fraudulent transaction.”