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Comelec officials open to subjecting transparency server to 3rd party scrutiny


By Jeffrey Damicog

To assure the integrity of the elections, three commissioners of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) are willing to subject the transparency server to scrutiny through a third party inspection.

“We want to assure the public that we are open to inquiries or technical audit,” Comelec Commissioner Rowena Amelia Guanzon told reporters Wednesday.

Election returns are canvassed by COMELEC sitting as the National Board of Canvassers at PICC Wednesday. (ALVIN KASIBAN / MANILA BULLETIN)

Election returns are canvassed by COMELEC sitting as the National Board of Canvassers at PICC Wednesday.

Aside from her, Guanzon said Commissioners Luie Tito Guia and Marlon Casquejo likewise  “prefer an independent third party to do this.”

Guanzon made the statement after individuals and groups questioned the integrity of poll results following a glitch in the transparency server which resulted in a seven-hour delay in forwarding data to the media networks Monday.

“I can assure that personally wala pong daya po diyan o magic (there is no cheating or magic that took place),” stressed Guanzon.

She said Guia will bring up his suggestion with other Comelec commissioners.

“I’m sure the other commissioners also agree to this suggestion of Commissioner Guia,” said Guanzon.

The transparency server is located at the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) headquarters at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Manila where a parallel count is taking place.

Guanzon said PPCRV should have spoken up about the issue being an accredited non-government organization (NGO) of the Comelec ensuring the transparency of the elections.

“Makikita natin PPCRV has not yet issued a statement e nandun naman sila. So maganda rin doon na may pagsusuri silang sarili nila yung PPCRV (It would be better if the PPCRV make its own scrutiny) and they have their experts there,” she added.

Don’t pay SD supplier

Guanzon also urged the poll body not to pay the supplier that provided defective SD cards which caused delays in this year’s midterm elections.

Guanzon said the Comelec en banc has not yet decided if it will pay the P22.6 million still owed to the supplier, JV of S1 Technologies and Silicon Valley Computer Group.

“Ako ang boto ko diyan hindi ko sila babayaran (I vote not to pay them),” she told reporters Wednesday.

“Magdi-dissent talaga ako (I will dissent),” she stressed.

On Tuesday, the Comelec revealed that among the 85,769 SD cards used in the May 13 elections, 1,665 malfunctioned.

“According to COA (Commission on Audit) rules naman, we should pay kung talagang dineliver yung tama (if there were good deliveries),” Guanzon cited.

“Kung hindi nag-deliver ng tama, that’s 1,000 plus SD cards, you multiply that, we will not pay plus may penalty sila according to the contract (If they failed to deliver, considering there are over 1,000 defective SD cards, we will not pay plus the penalties that can be imposed under the existing contract),” she added.

Comelec lawyers are reportedly now checking the contract and how the supplier was chosen.

“So ngayon pinapasuri ko na po at may mga lawyers ako na tumitingin sa contrata (I am having it checked and I have lawyers looking into the contract),” the commissioner said.

Though the Comelec set a ceiling of P79 million for the SD cards, Guanzon said the supplier won the bidding after offering the lowest bid to supply the SD cards.

Because of this, Guanzon and her fellow commissioners suspect that the supplier may have supplied defective SD cards which were crucial in storing the ballot images and logs.

Within 30 days

With the midterm polls now over, Comelec is reminding all candidates to submit their Statement of Contributions and Expenditures (SOCE).

“We are reminding candidates, who ran or not, who won or lost, that they need to submit SOCE within 30 days from the end of elections or until June 12,” Comelec spokesman James Jimenez.

“Otherwise, what the law says is that they will be unable to assume their elective positions,” he added.

Comelec Resolution No. 10505 provides that “no elected candidate shall enter upon the duties of office until he filed his SOCE.”

The office of an elected candidate who failed to file SOCE shall be considered “vacant” pursuant to Section 11 of the Omnibus Election Code (OEC) until he has complied and submitted his SOCE within six months from proclamation.

After the lapse of the period and the candidate fails to assume office, the Comelec said a “permanent vacancy” shall occur for which the said office shall be filled up in accordance with the law.

In the same resolution, the Comelec also enumerated the administrative penalty for the elected candidate and electoral party who belatedly submit the SOCE: P10,000 for senators, party-list organizations, and national political parties; 8,500 for provincial political parties; P8,000 for provincial governors and vice governors; P7,000 for provincial board members, congressmen, local political parties, mayors, and vice mayors P7,000;  and P6,000 for councillors.

What about your garbage?

The Comelec also reminded national and local candidates to remove and dispose their campaign materials properly.  Failure to do so constitutes an election offense.

Guanzon said if candidates could spend so much money to produce and disseminate their posters, they should also be able to take it down themselves.

“Nananawagan ako sa mga kandidato, ang laki naman ng gastos niyo sa pagpalagay ng posters niyo, gumastos na rin kayo ng konti para tanggalin ang posters niyo at ilagay sa tamang basura (I am asking the candidates, if you can spend so much to display your posters, you should also spend a little to remove them and dispose them properly),” Guanzon told reporters before the resumption of the canvassing of the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) in Pasay City.

Guanzon warned that if after three days, a candidate fails to remove his posters after given notice, it could be considered an election offense which could result to the disqualification of a winning candidate.

“Election offense na iyan na more than three days notice at hindi pa sila nagtanggal (That is already an election offense if after three days they still failed to remove their posters),” she explained.

In Metro Manila alone, at least 145.42 tons of garbage composed mainly of campaign posters and other paraphernalia were collected, according to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA).

Guazon said candidates could do a good deed and recycle the plastic tarpaulins or donate them to homeless people who have no decent houses.

“Bad manners po iyang nagkakalat kayo ng basura dyan. Tapos nanalo kayo o natalo iiwanan niyo ang posters niyo sa amin? Bakit kami naman ang maglilinis ng basura nila? (It’s bad manners to just let those garbage on the streets. Whether you won or lost, does that mean you can leave your posters to us? Are we the ones responsible to clean your garbage?”,” she asked. (with reports from Leslie Ann Aquino and Martin Sadongdong) #MatalinongBoto2019


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