By Leslie Ann Aquino
Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo said this following the call of President Duterte to the Commission on Elections to dispose of the vote counting machines (VCMs) of Smartmatic.
“To me that’s okay if they will really do it,” he said in an interview.
“We have long been calling for manual voting and counting in the precinct level and automated transmission and canvassing (of election results),” added Pabillo.
Earlier, Father Edu Gariguez also pushed for a hybrid election system saying Smartmatic’s VCMs lack “transparency.”
The priest made the statement disappointed with the conduct of the recent midterm polls which was marred by many glitches such as VCMs and SD cards malfunctioning.
San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza was hoping to see an improvement in the country’s electoral process in the future.
He added that the call of the President showed that Smartmatic was not reliable.
“If he said that that it’s a tacit agreement that Smartmatic is indeed not reliable after four elections,” Alminaza said.
“They should be seriously investigated and findings made public,” the prelate added.
During his meeting with the Filipino community in Tokyo last week, Duterte urged the poll body to dispose of the VCMs of Smartmatic and instead look for a new one that is free of fraud in the wake of the different issues that plagued the midterm polls.
Meanwhile, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez assured that the poll body does not have the preference for international companies in providing the automated election system.
“We are not averse to inviting local suppliers. There is nothing preventing local suppliers from joining the bidding,” he said.
“But to limit the options of the nation to just local suppliers might not be the best solution nor might it be legal,” added Jimenez.
The problem, he said that they encountered in the past was local companies not having the required experience in providing voting machines as required by the Poll Automation Law.
“The problem there is that the law itself requires that the system to be used would have been used in a previous political exercise,” said Jimenez.
“The problem in the past nine years is that local suppliers usually don’t have the required experience,” he added.
Based on Republic Act No. 9369, the AES that shall be used must have demonstrated capability and had been successfully used in a prior electoral exercise here or abroad.