An election watchdog and Information and Technology (IT) experts lambasted the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Automated Election System (JCOC-AES) for cancelling Friday’s hearing on an unauthorized change in the script in the transparency server of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) last May 9.
In a forum in Quezon City, the Mata sa Balota led by Rodolfo Javellana Jr. as well as the
IT experts–lawyer Ivan Uy and Edmund Casiño–said it was highly questionable for the JCOC-AES to postpone the hearing in the Senate because there was no reason for it to do so.
Uy said the attendance of Smartmatic in the hearing may be dispensed with since it is the Comelec that has control over the elections and Smartmatic is merely a service provider.
“The fact that wala yung Smartmatic o yung kontratista e nandyan naman ang Comelec.
Sino ba nagpapalakad ng eleksyon, Smartmatic ba o Comelec? Bakit hindi maituloy ang isang congressional hearing kung wala ang kontratista [The Comelec is there, there is no need for Smartmatic. Who is in control of the polls, Smartmatic or the Comelec? Why can’t the hearing be conducted if the technology provider is not there]?” he asked.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, chairman of the joint panel, earlier said it would be “useless” if the investigation was pursued because Smartmatic would not be able to attend.
Smartmatic had backed out of the hearing at the last minute.
But Uy said this is a flimsy excuse because the hearing could proceed since it is the Comelec that needs to answer the more important questions on the holding of the elections including the system employed in the electoral exercise.
“I think the JCOC should have proceeded with the hearing kasi karamihan naman ng tanong namin dyan ang makakasagot ang [because most of the questions can be answered by the]Comelec kasi yung [because the]transmission logs ay nasa [are in the]official logs and the people running these elections are supposedly or allegedly the Comelec, so we should ask this from the Comelec. It is the Comelec that should answer that. Why cancel [the hearing]if the Comelec officials [were there]?” he added.
Casiño said the last-minute excuse of the Smartmatic officials to not attend the proceedings may be considered a sign of “guilt.”
“Parang tumatakas na parang [They seemed to be] guilty. Flight means guilt na parang kapag tumatakas ka sa iyong pananagutan sa amin at sa pag-iwas nila, mukhang meron talaga silang adyenda na laban sa taong bayan [that if you are trying to not own up for what you did wrong, you have an agenda that is against the people],” Casiño added.
He said if Smartmatic was really interested in attending the hearing to clarify issues regarding its unauthorized actions, it could have easily sent representatives.
“Ang laki ng organisasyon nila, pwede naman sila magpadala ng representative kasi hindi naman yung buong korporasyon ang dapat pumunta dyan. Hindi ba sila mga professional na hindi man lamang nila maipadala ang mga abogado nila para lang humarap sa joint congressional hearing para yung oras ay hindi masayang [They are a big organization, they could just have sent representatives. Are they not professionals who could have sent their lawyers to attend the hearing]?” Casino said.
Javellana said the apparent reluctance of Smartmatic executives to attend the hearing is another proof that the script change is part of a conspiracy to subvert the true will of the Filipino people.
He said his group will pursue the electoral sabotage case it earlier filed against the Comelec and Smartmatic officials.