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Duterte advises Comelec to ‘dispose’ of Smartmatic

Updated

By Argyll Geducos

TOKYO, Japan – Despite Malacañang lauding the result of the recent elections, President Duterte is advising the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to dispose of Smartmatic as election technology provider as it has been susceptible to fraud.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the meeting with the Filipino community at the Palace Hotel in Tokyo, Japan on May 30, 2019. (TOTO LOZANO / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his speech during the meeting with the Filipino community at the Palace Hotel in Tokyo, Japan on May 30, 2019. (TOTO LOZANO / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

President Duterte made the statement after a Filipino in Japan asked him to ask the Comelec why it was still using Smartmatic despite the glitches in its servers and the issue of cheating in the 2016 polls.

In his speech before members of the Filipino community here late Thursday, Duterte said that the issue with the government’s contractor in the automated elections was already in his mind and he was just waiting until his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July to announce it.

“I would like to advise Comelec now – hindi ko na lang hintayin (I would not wait for the SONA anymore) – dispose of that Smartmatic and look for a new one that is free of fraud,” he said.

According to the President, the mechanism used by Comelec was creating a “hostile environment” because candidates have been complaining that they were cheated.

“Ang Liberal sabi nila nadaya sila. Ako sabi nila nadaya rin (The Liberal Party said they were cheated, me as well). And you know it’s creating an environment of hostile attitude against that Smartmatic,” Duterte said.

“You have three years. Kakatapos lang ng election. Palitan na ninyo kasi (The election has just finished Change it now because) it is no longer acceptable to me, to the people and even to the congressmen who are here,” he added.
“Why are you insisting sa (on that) Smartmatic? Because bidding?” he continued.

Duterte then said he does not know what will happen next if the Comelec still chooses to use Smartmatic in the next election.

“Iyong boto ng Pilipino hindi nabibilang nang totoo. So live man ito ngayon sinasabi ko na sa inyo ang tao ayaw na ‘yang Smartmatic (The people’s votes are not counted properly. So this is live now and I am telling Comelec that the people no longer want Smartmatic),” he said.

“If you use that in the next election three years from now I don’t know what will happen. Something has got to give. Improve on the system. Stop using Smartmatic,” he added.

“Kindly, I am now asking you as a co-equal body, it’s just promoting turmoil please do not use it,” he continued.
Earlier, Malacañang said that the 2019 midterm polls had been credible, adding that only a small percentage of the vote counting machines had problems.

Meanwhile, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo explained that Duterte’s remarks on Smartmatic does not mean that the just concluded elections is not credible nor honest.

“It is. The President’s remarks is a response to some concerns raised by both the opposition, the administration, supporters as well as civic groups relative to the previous and present elections on certain technical glitches that precipitate questions on the technological competence of Smartmatic,” he said.

“The President is not comfortable with these allegations that produce a whiff of fraud or delay in the announcing of the election results,” he added.

Panelo also said that the Comelec should take Duterte’s suggestion seriously so the future elections will not be subjected to the same concerns.

“The Comelec should take seriously the suggestion of the President, for after all it should be the first one that should be fiercely protective of its image being the constitutional body mandated to safeguard the sanctity of the ballots,” he said.

Earlier, Malacañang said that the 2019 midterm polls had been credible, adding that only a small percentage of the vote counting machines had problems.

They also said that the delayed transmission of the results from the precincts to the Comelec’s transparency server should not be a cause of concern.

However, the Palace said the Comelec should review the Smartmatic contract following the glitches that marred the voting process and electronic transmission of results early this month.

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