The Philippine Constitution Association (Philconsa) and Tanggulang Demokrasya, Inc. (Tandem) over the weekend expressed apprehension over the conduct of the May 9 elections.
This after they had verified that members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) have not yet been issued their authenticated “digital signatures” to sign and affix in the election returns transmitted electronically to the Municipal, City, Provincial and/or National Board of Canvassers.
Philconsa, which is headed by former Justice Manuel Lazaro, argued that Sec. 19 of R.A. No. 9369, amending Sec. 18 of the Automated Election System R.A. No. 8436, mandates that “the election returns transmitted electronically and digitally signed shall be considered as official election results and shall be used as the basis for the canvassing of votes and the proclamation of a candidate.”
This means that election returns transmitted electronically without the authenticated “digital signatures” of the members of the BEIs cannot be used as the legal basis for the canvassing of votes and the proclamation of candidates.
Both Philconsa and Tandem were shocked with the absence of the “digital signatures” of the BEIs issued and authenticated by the Information and Communication Technology Office (ICTO) of the Department of Science and Technology.
They feared that as the election becomes a mockery, this will cause national chaos with devastating aftermaths.
The two groups were appalled on the destructive fallouts for the neglect and failure of Comelec to comply with its duty: (i) to secure “digital signatures” of the BEIs to sign the election returns transmitted electronically, and (ii) the neglect and failure of ICTO to issue the “digital signatures” of the BEIs to sign the election returns.
When Tandem inquired from ICTO about the issuance of the “digital signatures,” its Executive Director, Luis Napoleon Casandra replied that the ICTO has no record on file on the issuance of such certifications, but Casandra assured that he will advise them of any further information or development on the matter.
Earlier in a March 23, 2016 hearing of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the automated election system, Comelec Executive Director Jose Tolentino admitted Comelec’s inability to secure the “digital signatures” based on Comelec’s flawed terms.