SENATOR Aquilino Pimentel 3rd is willing to investigate the allegation of a former election official that the 2013 mid-term elections were electronically doctored, if the accuser could present evidence to back his claim.
Melchor Magdamo, executive assistant to former Comelec Chairman Jose Melo, said last week that an anomaly in the digital lines in the automated poll machines was discovered by experts from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) during a manual audit of the elections.
Magdamo added that Pimentel, who placed eighth, was among the “victims” of the electronic cheating caused by the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.
He said Pimentel would have landed on a higher spot if the anomaly was detected and corrected.
Pimentel said he is interested in Magdamo’s claim but that he must come up with enough evidence to show that the digital lines on the ballots, which he claimed to be the source of the “electronic dagdag-bawas (ote padding-vote shaving),” affected the poll results.
Pimentel said he heard about the digital lines during previous hearings of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Automated Election System (JCOC-AES), but the number of affected ballots were not enough to conclude that the lines affected the results.
“It might be interesting if Magdamo could show proof. I saw the incidence of digital lines on 10 or 20 ballots but not in large scale as to affect the ranking of the candidates,” Pimentel said in an interview.
He added that if he accepted Magdamo’s claim that the digital lines affected his ranking, it would mean that there are at least 500,000 ballots that were affected, since the senator in front of him in the ranking was ahead by more than 500,000 votes.
“We can’t hold a [Senate] hearing and then show digital lines on the digital images of 20 or 30 ballots. That will not prove I was cheated again by half a million votes,” Pimentel said.
In one of the hearings of the JCOC-AES, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. admitted knowing about the digital lines and has conducted an initial assessment of the glitch.
Magdamo is a co-convenor of the election watchdog Citizens for Clean and Credible Election (C3E), the same group calling for the disqualification of Smartmatic from participating in the bidding of additional PCOS machines.
The poll body is set to acquire 23,000 Optical Mark Reader (OMR) and 415 Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) machines for the 2016 presidential elections.
The Comelec is pushing ahead with the plan despite calls from critics to switch to manual balloting and precinct counting that they said is cheaper and transparent.
Pimentel said JCOC-AES will hold another hearing after passage of the 2015 national budget.