Another petition asking the Supreme Court to compel the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to implement the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) and other security features and safeguards of the automated election system (AES) was filed Friday.
Three petitioners—Greco Antonious Belgica, Glenn Chong, and Manuelito Luna – maintained that Section 6 of the Automated Election Law mandates the use of the VVPAT.
Former senator Richard Gordon was the first to file a similar petition, saying that Comelec officials might be impeached if they would obstinately refuse to activate the security feature that would allow voters to determine if their votes were properly counted.
“Surprisingly, Comelec has failed to ensure that the AES meets these functional capabilities, as well as other safeguards [under the Automation Law) Suffice it to state that Comelec is in gross violation of the AES Law with its decision not to enable the VVPAT, coupled with its non-compliance with the minimum system capabilities requirement and other safeguards mandated by the AES Law,” the petitioners said.
On Tuesday, the SC ordered the poll body to answer Gordon’s petition within a non- extendable period of five days.
The Comelec en banc unanimously ruled against the VVPAT, which it said could be used as a tool for vote-buying. It also said that activating the security feature would extend the voting period by seven hours.
The VVPAT system allows the voters to verify if their ballots were cast correctly.
Gordon said the VVPAT is “a critical and indispensable security feature of the automated voting machine.”