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Senate to probe VCM glitches


By Vanne Terrrazola

Lawmakers are set to investigate the glitches in the vote-counting machines (VCMs) and SD cards that marred the conduct of the midterm polls on Monday, May 13.

A poll clerk helps an IT technician to remove a ballot jammed inside the voting counting machine at a polling poll Manuel l quezon Elementary School  in Tondo Manila yesterday (Photo by Ali Vicoy/ MANILA BULLETIN)

A poll clerk helps an IT technician to remove a ballot jammed inside the voting counting machine at a polling precinct Manuel L. Quezon Elementary School in Tondo Manila on Monday (Photo by Ali Vicoy/ MANILA BULLETIN)

Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, chair of the joint congressional oversight committee on the automated elections system (JCOC-AES) for the Senate, on Tuesday said he plans to call for an inquiry on the disruptions of the voting process yesterday due to defective VCMs.

“Glitches are enough to call for a congressional investigation. Why are we still having all these glitches? Cannot Comelec (Commission on Elections) anticipate them?” Pimentel said.

Pimentel said he would coordinate with JCOC-AES House panel chair, CIBAC partylist Representative Sherwin Tugna, for the holding of the congressional oversight hearing when sessions resume on May 20.

Senators have slammed the Comelec over the malfunction of the VCMs which caused delays in the casting of votes in various polling centers nationwide and triggered concerns that voters may be disenfranchised.

“Too many reports of malfunctioning VCMs nationwide. Hence the question to ask now is: Why did Comelec report that all VCMs passed the diagnostic tests?” Pimentel said on Monday.

Sen. Nancy Binay also said the glitches were “totally unacceptable” since the Comelec had assured that the polls would be in order.

Senators Joel Villanueva and Sherwin Gatchalian also recalled allotting the Comelec more than P10 billion in the 2019 national budget.

“This glitch is so weird…We have the right to know what’s really going on? #unbelievable,” Villanueva wrote on Twitter.

On Tuesday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said the faulty machines should prompt the Comelec to drop Smartmatic as its technology provider for the elections.

“It’s about time we stop using Smartmatic,” Sotto said.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said at least 400 VCMs encountered glitches during the elections, way more than the 188 faulty machines recorded in the 2016 national elections.

The poll body has yet to determine the cause of the malfunction.

But President Duterte, after casting his vote in Davao City yesterday, said it would be premature to conduct any investigation as he appealed to the public to allow the Comelec to explain first on the glitches.

“Let Comelec explain first to the people before we even initiate a sort of investigation…That is in cognizance of our separation of powers,” he said.

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