AS expected, the Commission on Elections rejected the petition of Government Watch, a non-governmental organization that monitors anomalies, for the Comelec to desist from employing the Smartmatic Automated Election System (that uses the Precinct Count Optical Scan machines) in the 2016 election.
Government Watch, headed by industrialist and consumer welfare advocate Raul Conception, had urged the Comelec to abandon its plan to use the old PCOS machines in the 2016 polls because the Venezuelan corporation’s AES system and the machines are not credible. Government Watch requests the Comelec to instead employ an entirely new Automated Election System or AES.
Mr. Concepcion said cases of discrepancies revealed at a recent Senate hearing were compelling reasons to junk the Smartmatic PCOS machines.
Many experts—including former Comelec commissioner Gus Lagman and election process and technology professionals Lito Averia and Nelson Celis (who write columns in The Manila Times) and their colleagues in AES Watch and academe—have painstakingly explained the imperfections and proneness to manipulation and fraud of the PCOS machines and the Smartmatic system.
In the West, more sophisticated countries than the Philippines, like Germany, stopped using systems similar to the Smartmatic AES-cum-PCOS machines because they saw the very same ills and un-transparent characteristics that the Filipino experts are pointing out.
But Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. has turned a deaf ear to these valid complaints and entreaties. He even accuses these experts of being “troublemakers.”
His main point in defending his decision to continue using Smartmatic’s discredited, unreliable and un-transparent system using the PCOS machines is that his office does not have enough funds to replace the 80,000 old PCOS machines that were used in the anomalous 2010 and 2013 elections. And he insists that the PCOS machines are credible.
Solid facts show (1) that the use of the PCOS machines made the 2010 and 2013 elections illegal (because the Election Code and the Automated Election laws were violated); (2) that election results yielded by the PCOS machines show a pattern of errors that must be due to nothing else but manipulation of the cards used by the machines; (3) that losing candidates’ protests based on true and manifest irregularities in the results yielded by the PCOS machines could not be processed because there is no way to verify the precinct counts produced by the machines; (4) that the counts made by the PCOS machines were made additionally wrong by the appearance of ink lines on the ballots inside the machines; (5) that the results of the counts are statistically improbable, (6) that the PCOS has failed in the law-mandated checks comparing the PCOS counts with those of manual ballot counts.
Despite these and other facts showing the fatal imperfections of the Smartmatic AES cum PCOS machines, Chairman Brillantes obstinately and unreasonably stands pat on his position that the PCOS machines’ performance has been near-perfect in the 2010 and 2013 elections. That they passed in the legally required tests—which is not true. He admits that the PCOS machines do have “deficiencies” but he claims, unbelievably, that these are being corrected for the 2016 polls.
He buttresses his stand by saying that it just follows the recommendation of the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC) to use both old and new election machines in the 2016 presidential polls.
The Comelec-Smartmatic way has made Philippine elections a travesty of electoral democracy. This Smartmatic AES using PCOS machines has given us public officials and lawmakers whose election victories are questionable. They are therefore PCOS-made officials, governors, mayors, congressmen and senators. In a sense, we are now under the Reign of Smartmatic-PCOS.
This illegal reign must end. Otherwise our deterioration as an electoral democracy will continue until our beloved Republic of the Philippines disappears.