SEN. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd on Thursday warned that results of the 2016 elections may be compromised if the Commission on Elections (Comelec) fails to address glitches in the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines, particularly digital lines that cannot be seen by the naked eye.
The senator warned that the Comelec should give priority to the problem on digital lines because it could have serious effects on the results of the elections.
“These are lines which we cannot see no matter how many watchers we hire and field, they won’t be able to see the lines because these are digital lines, which can only be read by the machines,” Pimentel explained.
He said voters should be reassured that their votes are counted correctly.
Comelec Chairperson Sixto Brillantes Jr., however, insisted that digital lines have no effect on the results of the 2016 poll. He said it was not used in dagdag-bawas (vote padding- vote shaving) scheme of some candidates in past elections.
He admitted that while digital lines have been found in some of the ballots, this does not mean that the vote count was affected since some of the lines were either not aligned with the oval in the ballots or were too thin to be read by the PCOS machines.
Brillantes said this is the reason why the poll body will review ballots that were included in some of the election protests and ballots that were not questioned to determine if these also have digital lines.
Lawyer Melchor Magdamo, a former official of the Comelec, earlier said digital lines could affect the vote count or could either add to or subtract from votes of a particular candidate.
Magdamo cited the case of Pimentel who, according to him, should have ranked higher had digital lines not shaved his votes. Pimentel ranked 8th in the 2013 mid-term elections, just behind Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th.
The Comelec still has more than a year to come up with corrections in case fears that the digital lines produced by PCOS machines could affect the vote count turn out to be true.
Also on Thursday, the Joint Oversight Congressional Committee on the Automated Elections System (JOCC-AES) expressed disappointment over failure of the Comelec to complete its report and submit its findings on PCOS glitches that were discovered in some of the ballots used in the 2013 mid-term elections.
The Comelec was supposed to submit its report also on Thursday but Brillantes informed the committee that they are yet to start the review.
“I was disappointed because I was expecting that the report on digital lines will be submitted today but they [Comelec] told the committee they will only start the review today,” Pimentel said in an interview.
Brillantes said they have completed the guidelines that will be used in the review of digital lines and that they will start the review anytime.
“I want the review to be finished before the year ends, I’m very interested with the review because I also want to know what causes the digital lines,” the Comelec chief added.