MORE than 3,000 members of the multi-sectoral group National Transformation Council (NTC) held a rally in front of the Manila Cathedral on Tuesday to press their call on government to ditch the use of Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines in the 2016 elections.
The cathedral, where Pope Francis said his first Mass in the country last week, is just across the Commission on Elections (Comelec) office in Intramuros, Manila.
Evelyn Kilayko, Tanggulang Demokrasya chairperson, said the poll body should listen to the call of the masses and stop insisting on the use of the counting machines if they will only be meant to rig election results.
“The Comelec often gets away with electoral fraud and all [its]lies because majority of us Filipinos are not tech-savvy. We have always questioned where did our votes go because we saw in the past elections [in 2013]that votes disappeared,” Kilayko added.
She claimed that in the 2013 polls, the Comelec reported that Grace Poe, a candidate for senator, had more than 20 million votes. The figure was later whittled down to 16 million.
Ernie del Rosario, former Comelec IT director, agreed with Kilayko, saying the reduction by four million votes had to be done because 20 million is more than the actual votes cast.
“Everything is wrong with the PCOS machines. The digital signature, fake ballot detection, everything is not working . . . the source code review was tampered [with]. It just didn’t work,” del Rosario said.
He maintained that manual elections are better because cheats can easily be checked and questioned.
Kilayko said more forums and rallies are being organized to raise awareness among Filipinos on the threat of another rigged balloting in 2016 if the automated machines are used.
“The threat is so real that even some Catholic bishops and leaders of other religious sects have joined the frontline to register their opposition,” she added.
Archbishop Fernando Capalla, archbishop emeritus of the Archdiocese of Davao and Archbishop Ramon Arguelles of the Metropolitan Archdiocese of Lipa in Batangas led the celebration of a Mass outside the Manila Cathedral on Tuesday. Fr. Benny Tuazon, executive director for the Ministry on Ecology of the Archdiocese of Manila, was also present.
Kilayko said the NTC is an umbrella organization of several community, inter-faith and cause-oriented clusters that will continue to call for the scrapping of the Comelec deal with Smartmatic, provider of the PCOS machines.
Her group questioned the lack of proper bidding for the procurement and use of the PCOS machines, the “massive and magic 60-30-10” cheating, the lack of receipt of votes and the lack of security monitoring during the conduct of elections.