Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Saturday again avowed that to him and his fellow commissioners, transparency is paramount.
To achieve transparency, he said the poll body would invite observers who can give the best inputs while preparations for the 2016 national elections are being done and decisions are being weighed as to the most efficient technology to be used.
Chairman Brillantes said the Comelec was looking forward to working with the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC). The CAC is a government scientific panel chaired by the Executive Director of the Department of Science and Technology’s Information and Communications Technology Office, DOST Undersecretary Louis Napoleon C. Casambre.
In his “LET’S FACE I. T.!” column that appeared last Wednesday, former Comelec commissioner Gus Lagman, reports that “As part of the National Science and Technology Week, held at the SMX on July 24-28, 2014, the Comelec [Commission on Elections] Advisory Council (CAC) organized a Technology Fair, inviting vendors of automated election systems (AES) to present their solutions to the council, the Comelec itself, the media, and other interested parties.”
Mr. Lagman lauds CAC Chairman Usec Casambre for being kind enough, even on short notice, to allow Mr. Lagman’s TransparentElections.org.ph in cooperation with Namfrel, to participate in the presentations. Eight groups presented their systems, including the vendors of the system used in the 2010 and 2013 elections, Smartmatic.
Mr. Lagman puts the issues in their proper perspective, and reminded readers of the main reasons for automating our elections. These are:
(1) to improve the accuracy of the counting of votes and tabulation of results;
(2) to eliminate, or at least minimize, cheating;
(3) to make the process more, not less, transparent to the public; and
(4) to speed up the process.
He writes: “Almost all vendors can claim (even if some claims are untrue) to have the capability to improve accuracy, eliminate cheating, and cut down the processing time to a week or less. But, only TCrES can also clearly claim to have the capability to make the election process MORE, not less, transparent.”
Obviously, transparency is important–and as Chairman Brillantes said is paramount.
“If the voters do not see how their votes are counted, how will they know that their votes were counted correctly?” Mr. Lagman writes:
“Of the many countries that have reverted from automated to manual precinct-counting, Germany, in particular, did so not only because it wants the voters to see the counting, its Constitution also wants the voters to understand how their votes were counted.
“Transparency is required by Republic Act No. 9369, signed January 23, 2007. The very title of RA 9369, says, “AN ACT AUTHORIZING THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS TO USE AN AUTOMATED SYSTEM … TO ENCOURAGE TRANSPARENCY, CREDIBILITY, FAIRNESS AND ACCURACY OF ELECTIONS …”
“Section 1 further says that, “… the process shall be transparent and credible and that results shall be fast, accurate and reflective of the genuine will of the people.” (Emphasis mine).
“If there’s cheating in manual elections, the voters and candidates would see and would have a basis for protesting. With automated precinct-counting, nobody would see the cheating. It is so unfair to the candidates that even if they are so sure of winning in a particular precinct (their bailiwick, for instance), it is so difficult, because of the lack of transparency, to prove the cheating. The protest process is thus very much impaired, a situation that saddened many losing, perhaps, cheated, candidates in the 2013 elections.”
“Today’s election mantra worldwide is, ‘Secret voting, public counting.’ ”
We agree wholeheartedly. We should have secret voting but public counting. The opaque, anti-transparent and law-violating system of the Smartmatic AES using the PCOS machines must be junked.
The 2016 elections must become credible, fraud-free and honest. Otherwise, let’s have no elections at all.
Let’s just pray that what is being proposed and discussed in Lipa today, God willing, happens.