• Defying the Supreme Court, the Comelec should resign en banc


    THE Commission on Elections (Comelec), already at the center of almost innumerable controversies since its adoption of the Smartmatic-based Automated Election System used in the Philippines since 2008, has gone a step too far with its latest move to quietly return 1,356 vote-counting machines (VCMs) to Smartmatic.

    The VCMs were supposedly “contingency” machines, only to be used in case of a failure of any of the more than 90,000 VCMs deployed across the country for the election. As mere back-ups, Comelec would have everyone believe, these particular machines played no part in the May elections, and were simply spare components to be returned to the distributor as a matter of housekeeping.

    In that case, why did the Comelec avoid informing those with an interest in the disposition of any VCMs or other election paraphernalia and equipment, until after it agreed to Smartmatic’s request to return the machines?

    There are a number of election protests currently being pursued by candidates at various levels in the May elections, the most significant of which is the electoral protest filed by Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo. The Marcos camp was informed of the planned return of the VCMs in a notice dated October 10 from the Comelec, which said that a briefing on the return protocols would be held on October 19.

    The Marcos camp, while informing the Comelec that it would attend the briefing, said the commission should have notified the group and the Supreme Court that Smartmatic had made the request, rather than simply agreeing to it.

    In a separate letter to Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, the Comelec informed the High Court – which serves as the Presidential Election Tribunal (PET), and is hearing the poll protest of Marcos – that it had agreed to return the machines to Smartmatic after having determined that doing so was not prevented by the Precautionary Protective Order (PPO) issued on July 12. The PET issued that order in relation to Marcos’ protest, directing the Comelec “to preserve all the election materials and paraphernalia relative to the May 9, 2016 elections,” until the case was resolved.

    What part of the word “all” does the Comelec not understand? By what authority does the Comelec feel it has the privilege to determine the scope of an order issued by the Supreme Court?

    It may very well be that the VCMs in question are completely irrelevant to the May elections, were not used, and contain no data. Returning the machines to Smartmatic may, indeed, be a completely innocent move that will not affect the ongoing poll protest. That, indeed, is what Comelec contends. If that is true, and with the full knowledge that there is a lawful and unequivocal order from the PET in force covering ALL election materials and paraphernalia, then the proper course of action for the Comelec would have been to inform all concerned parties, not the least the PET that has the final decision on whether its previously issued order could be modified or not, upon receipt of the Smartmatic request, not after agreeing to it.

    The impression such move has created is that Comelec has something to hide. The actual implication of the decision to return the machines without consulting with the Marcos group or the PET that has, by virtue of its protective order, jurisdiction over the VCMs, is that Comelec is placing the interests of Smartmatic over those of the Philippines.

    This cannot be tolerated.

    We urge the Supreme Court in its role as Presidential Electoral Tribunal to immediately put a stop to the planned return of the VCMs until the matter can be thoroughly and satisfactorily reviewed by all concerned.

    More emphatically, we call for a clean sweep of the entire election commission and urge ALL its members to resign, or its top leadership be removed from office for having overstepped its authority and destroyed the last shreds of credibility the already-troubled body might have had.



    1. This is a blatant violation of the law and a direct and contemptuous challenge against the Supreme Court and the Filipino people. The President must also find a way to make the COMELEC Commissioner and its lackeys accountable for this gross violation of the law. They are Thugs and thieves paid by the government; by the taxes of the people who they betrayed!

    2. mabait na pinoy on

      The VCM spare devices, to include all the VCM that were used throughout the country last May election, did not contain any election vote(s), because these machines were not intended to store election data. The only place where the votes were stored are in the SERVERS. The memory chips or integrated circuits that are in the VCM machines are what we termed as volatile, meaning, when all the data (votes) are transmitted to the server(s) for storage and counting, the VCM remains in quiescence state, awaiting for further instructions or until the is another vote(s) to be transmitted to the server(s). The VCMs are passive devices, meaning, it cannot create, remove, or do anything on its own, but only to comply what it was programmed to do, to transmit the votes to the server(s). The same is true to printers, configured with computers. When a printer detects a signal or data bits to be printed from RAM (Random Access Memory) which is the working memory of computer, it prints whatever it was sent to be printed and it will not store any of the data it just printed.

      The registered owner of the AES machines is SMARTMATIC Corp. and the COMELEC is the responsible Agency. Therefore, COMELEC was only doing its job to return the election equipment to the owner under the lease agreement. The COMELEC used their common senses by not be responsible for storing these VCMs since voting cards were already stored and preserved for future recount. Marcos’ election protest did not mention any of the AES devices cheated him, and the only legitimate protest was about the “pre shaded election ballots”.

      Pre shaded election ballots, vote buying, whining, and crying are beyond control of the AES machines, COMELEC, and SMARTMATIC Corp. A correctly pre shaded election ballots that were fed into VCMs, will read and transmit what it read to the servers with no problem. If two blocks were shaded for Vice President, it will VOID the vote and nobody will get the credit, and the same is true when there is no mark or blank.

      Lastly, the controversies on the AES machines, COMELEC, and SMARTMATIC Corp have never existed, only whining, crying, and complaining. However, pre-shaded voting ballots, vote buying, bullying, threatening voters, and whatever criminal activities observed or occurred during election were not AES related and beyond the control of COMELEC and SMARTMATIC.

    3. IF this VCM machine is released, this would indicate that all the formally established audit policy, procedural and access controls were ineffective as the likelihood exist that the COMELEC commissioners had also overridden established rules which would render the integrity of the voting results highly questionable. Their actions have shown in their violations of their own rules in the recent election and therefore, we question the independence of the COMELEC.

      We must put pressure on the president to issue an executive order to freeze all AES matters, assets, and resources until an independent post audit is performed. When there is a suspicion of collusion in the higher level of the food chain it would be quite a challenging audit. But it must be done!

    4. this is still a minute portion of the bigger picture of the has-beens wanting to hold on to power by any means necessary.

    5. war on drugs and this govt. cannot wage war on comelec perceived to be ridden with deceit, shenanigans and everything crooked.

    6. David Michael Meyer on

      If the machines are not to be trusted –Then all the previous times they were used should be investigated too We seem to be living in a age where the machines are ruling us ..Who is in control us –or the machine we build to serve us ?
      David M Meyer {PhD psych}

    7. Only the Guillotine is the solution for all those crooks not obeying to the People’s order, as represented by the Supreme Court.
      Comelec has been a JOKE since it’s inception.

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