An interfaith coalition on Wednesday urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to activate the security measures of counting machines to protect the sanctity of the ballot and ensure that the upcoming elections will be honest and credible.
FAITH.e Coalition, which stands for Fairness, Accuracy, Integrity, Transparency and Honesty in Elections, is composed of religious leaders, church groups and faith-based organizations from various faiths.
The group’s primary concern is the present state of the automated election system (AES), particularly the status of the cases filed at the Ombudsman and the Supreme Court against the Comelec and the supplier of PCOS machines, Smartmatic-TIM. The poll body and Smartmatic were hit for removing certain security features specified in the Election Automation Law when the AES was implemented.
“FAITH.e Coalition appeals to the Ombudsman and the Supreme Court to decide upon the cases filed against Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM with a sense of urgency. We fear that if the cases will not be decided on immediately, the full restoration of all security features of the PCOS machines will not happen in time for the 2016 elections,” said Bishop Efraim Tendoro, Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA).
“We believe that the absence of these security features in the AES violates the law of the land and will place the credibility of the 2016 elections in doubt,” the bishop told reporters.
The group wants the poll body to restore the voter-verifiable paper audit trail, implement a truly random manual audit after the elections, allow more parties to review the source code, use the digital signatures of teachers and Board of Election Inspectors, and ballot verification through the use of ultra-violate detectors to check against fake ballots.
“We trust that the Ombudsman and the Supreme Court will uphold the law and protect the sanctity of the vote of every Filipino. We pray that they will allow God to use them to ensure that fairness, accuracy, integrity, transparency and honesty will prevail in the coming elections,” Tendero said.
Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo appealed to voters to exercise their right to suffrage by choosing upright candidates. He said voters should not allow themselves to become instruments of fraud and deceit.
“Voting for the lesser evil is still evil,” the Pabillo said.
Edmundo “Toti’’ Casiño, former president of the Philippine Computer Society, stressed that the group wants the Comelec to fully implement RA 9369 or the Election Automation Law.
Casiño said that the election body’s implementation of the “No Bio, No Boto” scheme hit a snag after several groups filed petitions against the enforcement of the requirement of obtaining the voters’ biometrics before they can cast their votes.
The petition is still pending in court.