Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. wants his critics silenced. He is threatening to sue his critics. We dare him to include this paper and those who like us carried the criticisms by experts, some of whom are former Comelec officials.
Well, we in the Manila Times refuse to be cowed. And we’re damn sure other groups that make a common stand with us are similarly disposed. After all, we live in a democracy, and this system of government is supposed to work because its officials and their actuations are subject to public scrutiny.
Instead of answering the criticisms raining down on him, Mr. Brillantes tells the Filipino people to just trust him because he is supposed to be a pillar of integrity. He wishes us to sing paeans to the Comelec and its accomplishments. He asks us to focus on “the things that turn out right,” not the agency’s shortcomings.
To be sure, it is not unreasonable to ask people to give credit where credit is due. But we cannot find anything good to say about the Comelec’s decision to award the contract for the so-called Automated Election System in the 2010 and the 2013 elections to Smartmatic-TIM and to use and buy the Smartmatic-supplied PCOS (precinct count optical scan) machines that no one who is not a Comelec-Smartmatic loyalist or associate can praise. These machines have obliterated the transparency that generally used to characterize our election process at the precinct level.
What we do find is wholesale violation of the law committed by the Comelec in holding questionable and illegal biddings that ultimately favored Smartmatic. Mr. Brillantes et al. made illegal decisions—chief of all allowing Smartmatic to claim untruthfully that it was the owner of the software and the source code that makes it possible for the PCOS machines to operate. We don’t want to use the word “work”—because the glitches simply prove that the machines don’t work as the law requires them to do.
New standard for election systems
Mr. Brillantes has proclaimed a new standard for election systems and machines. He says the glitches and the flaws please him because he would have worried about the integrity of the PCOS machines if there were none.
The law requires almost 100-percent perfection. The Smartmatic system and the lemon machines it sold us did not function with perfection in any of the tests and trial-runs. Now they have performed so badly in the actual elections. And yet inexplicably Mr. Brillantes has never ceased to talk of the Smartmatic system and the machines as if these were nothing less than God’s gift to the Filipino people.
The people—NGOs, civil society, lawyers, good goernance societies—should sue Smartmatic and the Comelec officials for pulling this huge scam of over-priced machines that don’t work as the law requires, for rigged biddings and the many infractions they have committed in the course of imposing the Smartmatic AES system and PCOS machines on our country.
We endorse the call made by patriotic scientists and IT experts of Agham, AES Watch, CenPEG and others, that the Smartmatic system and the PCOS machines be junked—and be banned in the 2016 elections.