The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday took a swipe at its critics, accusing them of sowing confusion ahead of the 2016 presidential elections.
On Wednesday, a former Comelec official, Melchor Magdamo, claimed that the results of the 2013 mid-term elections were electronically doctored to favor administration candidates.
Comelec Chairperson Sixto Brillantes Jr. dismissed Magdamo as a “minor” Comelec lawyer who left the poll body just before the 2010 elections.
“He [Magdamo] was already out of the Comelec by April 2010 and did not have any role in the 2013 [polls]. Yet he was making claims of knowing several things,” Brillantes said at a news conference.
He accused the Automated Election System (AES) Watch as being behind the poll fraud claims of Magdamo.
“This is all just part of an orchestrated move by the same group, our regular detractors, which is the AES Watch, to discredit and create confusion before the 2016 elections,” Brillantes said.
The same group also made a lot of noise during 2010 and 2013 elections “but they are never here with us and are not aware of anything happening inside the commission,” he added.
Brillantes identified former Comelec Commissioner AugustoLagman, a leaders of AES Watch, as masterminding the campaign to discredit the poll agency.
He said Lagman had opposed the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) system when he was a poll commissioner and even after his appointment was not renewed by President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
“I’m retiring in February. I hope he does, too, and shift his focus to cars,” the Comelec chairman added.
Lagman is president of the Automobile Association of the Philippines.
AES Watch spokesperson Nelson Celis quickly denied claims of Brillantes that the group was out to sabotage Comelec preparations for the 2016 elections.
According to Celis, AES Watch merely wants to “put everything in the right perspective.”
“Neither Comelec nor any vendor won’t hear from us if the rules are being followed,” he said in a text message on Thursday.
Celis added that his group is more than willing to help the Comelec “for the country’s sake.”
Magdamo claimed that the Comelec was trying to cover up widespread manipulation of results in the 2013 elections.
He said the poll body never revealed a report of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) that digital lines had compromised counting of the votes.
Brillantes said Magdamo was misinformed and that it was actually the poll body that asked the DOST to make an assessment on the nature of the digital lines.
“There was no attempt to cover up. We discovered the problem and reported it to the DOST. How can they say we’re trying to sweep the issue under the rug?” Brillantes said.
He said the Comelec has already made an initial assessment of the digital lines to the elections through the poll protests pending before the commission.
He said the evaluation showed that the problems in the digital lines had little effect to the vote counting.
“It would not have any effect in the results of the elections,” Brillantes said.
He said the Comelec will double check the PCOS machines that will be used in 2016.
“We will look at these digital lines because we will try to solve them for the 2016 elections and make sure it will not take place again,” he said.
The 80,000 PCOS machines will be randomly tested to determine what caused the digital lines to appear.