VICE PRESIDENT Jejomar Binay and former senator Richard “Dick” Gordon called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to find ways on how it can comply with the Supreme Court ruling that the poll body issue paper receipts to voters.
Binay made the call on Saturday as Malacañang also urged the Comelec and the SC to resolve the problem so as not to put the May elections under a cloud of doubt.
Binay said the Comelec’s poor preparations is the reason why the commission is now having difficulties implementing the High Court’s order that the voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) feature of the vote counting machines (VCM) should be activated.
“May batas ‘yun, ‘di sila naghanda paano naman ‘yun? Kaya nga napagsabihan sila ng SC e. Wala kaming magagawa nasa batas talaga ‘yan, kailangan may receipt [There’s a law, they did not prepare, so how would that be? That is why they were reprimanded by the SC.
We cannot do anything, it is in the law, there has to be receipts],” Binay, the standard bearer of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), said.
“Now if you’re having problems, that’s your own fault. Simple naman ‘yun. Ikaw ang Chairman, may batas talaga ‘yan. Kailangan gawan mo ng solusyon [It’s simple. You’re the Chairman, there’s a law for that. Find a solution to comply with the law],” he added, referring to Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista.
The High Court was unanimous in its ruling that the Comelec should enable all the security features of the vote counting machines as required by law.
The poll body has appealed the tribunal’s decision, saying it may delay the elections scheduled on May 9 this year.
But even Malacañang noted that the Comelec has no choice but to obey the ruling.
“We appeal that this matter should be resolved at the soonest possible time but in a way that is clear so that it will not lead to worries or doubt,” Presidential Undersecretary Manuel Quezon 3rd said in a radio interview.
“It’s the obligation of every President na siguraduhin na talagang malinis at may kredibilidad ang eleksyon (to ensure that elections are clean and credible). But at the same time, a President can only do so much,” Quezon said.
Bautista had said that they will have to reconfigure the vote counting machines (VCMs) because these are not capable of printing out receipts.
But Gordon, the principal author of the automated election system law, disputed this claim.
He noted that when the Comelec conducted a public testing of the VCMs in October 2015 which Gordon’s Bagumbayan party participated in, it was clear that the machines have the capability to print out receipts. After having been assured that the VCMs have all the security features mandated by RA 9369 or the election automation law, Gordon said he was aghast when the Comelec announced that it will disable the VVPAT feature.
“There could be no rhyme or reason why they unilaterally disabled the VVPAT feature embedded in the machine itself. The bottom line is, the Comelec cannot choose which parts of the law to follow and which not to. They have done this in the 2010 and 2013 elections. The criminal pattern is apparent,” the former senator stressed.
“First, they decide among themselves without making it public that they will not comply with the law, then they make a formal announcement near the elections, that they will not comply with the law. Then when someone complains, they say it’s too late. Their acts are seemingly premeditated and criminal,” he added.
Gordon said the commission should not waste time making excuses and instead look for solutions to comply and ensure that the security features will be implemented to protect the integrity of the elections.
“There is nothing more vital at this critical time than to ensure that the Comelec will conduct a free, orderly, clean, honest, and truthful elections,” he stressed. “Let us not be persuaded by their excuses. The act of procuring additional supplies and equipment namely the thermal paper and receipt receptacles need not entail severe setbacks on the timeline of Comelec.”