Lawmakers are up in arms against a plan of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to conduct in 2016 hybrid elections–a set-up wherein votes will be counted manually at the precinct level while election returns will be tabulated electronically.
Capiz Rep. Frednil Castro, chairman of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, on Thursday said he was not pleased with a demonstration of the hybrid-election system that he witnessed recently.
“I was there during the mock election [drill]and the result was downright discouraging. Chairman Bautista and the rest of the observers, i.e. some of the associate commissioners, PPCRV, Namfrel, teachers’ organizations, political parties’ representatives, students, also expressed their dismay over the system,” Castro said in a text message.
He was referring to Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting and National Movement for Free Elections.
“I myself was disappointed to personally discover the obvious and material imperfections of the system,” Castro said.
On Wednesday, Comelec Commissioner Christian Lim announced that the hybrid system, dubbed as Precinct Automated Tallying System or PATaS, is one of the options for the 2016 elections and that the poll body is out to find out its feasibility.
Like Castro, administration lawmakers Romero Quimbo of Marikina City (Metro Manila), Edgar Erice of Caloocan City (also Metro Manila), Elpidio Barzaga Jr. of Dasmariñas (Cavite) and Sherwin Tugna of Citizens’ Battle Against Corruption party-list are vehemently against the hybrid system, arguing that it would only open the floodgates for fraud.
“I am strongly against any system that represents a step backward from current automation. I’d rather live with the less than .001 percent accuracy of the automated system than going back to manual reading and stick counting of the Dark Ages. It will be slap on our democracy and on the state of our country if we go back to this so- called hybrid system, which involves manual counting that is open to fraud,” Quimbo, chairman of the House and Ways panel, pointed out.