“By its refusal to implement safeguards, Comelec itself is the one undermining the credibility of the election results.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – The first public protest over the Comelec’s refusal to print voter receipts was held today, Tuesday, March 15, in front of the Comelec’s national headquarters at Intramuros, Manila. Led by the election watchdog Kontra Daya, the group strongly urged the poll body to abide by the election law and implement its order regarding the printing of the verifiable paper audit trail. Policemen barred the group from coming near the doors of the Comelec.
The automated election law requires the printing of a verifiable paper trail. But, according to Kontra Daya, the Comelec has violated it twice already – the Comelec neither printed voter’s receipts in the 2010 elections nor in the 2013 elections. Both had been marked by controversies as voters and candidates confronted the lack of transparency in the counting of results, and the various discrepancies that remain unanswered today.
Kontra Daya welcomed the recent Supreme Court decision ordering the Comelec to activate the printing of receipts in the vote counting machines. But the Comelec responded by issuing dire warnings saying the coming elections would take too long if the printing of voter receipt were to be done. The Comelec also filed a motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court, asking it to reverse its 14-0 decision for the printing of the voter’s receipt.
In an interview shortly after their picket protest, Arao also rejected the Comelec argument cum warnings about the May 9 elections being delayed or prolonged by the required safeguards.
“Such an argument is not acceptable,” Arao said. He added that the Comelec is exhibiting a big weakness but it should not play around with the law or the fundamental issue of transparency.
“By its refusal to implement safeguards, Comelec itself is the one undermining the credibility of the election results,” Arao said. Kontra Daya describes these acts of Comelec as “sinister.”
The group cautioned the public to not fall into the trap of pitting automated elections against manual elections, stressing that what we all want is a clean election.
It called on all political parties to reject Comelec’s threats and instead support calls for transparency in the elections. Kontra Daya said a delay in the elections will only benefit the incumbent, who they are sure will only further avail of the resources of the government for their electoral advantage.