By JULLIE Y. DAZA
Everyone and his sister-in-law have something unsavory to say about Smartmatic, everybody including President Duterte, Sen. Koko Pimentel, even opposition Sen. Kiko Pangilinan. Do they count as the majority? Apparently not, because Smartmatic has yet to be heard from — whatever for, if the Comelec spox sounds like he’s speaking for Smartmatic?
Now a citizens watchdog, Mata sa Balota (Eye on the Ballot), is appealing to the public to amend the automated election law after a hearing held by Congress’ oversight committee. The hearing produced one headline, an admission by a former Smartmatic operations officer that election results from a precinct in Ligao, Albay were transmitted May 3-9, days before the election. If we’re not always late we’re incredibly, phenomenally, impossibly premature in counting votes yet to be cast!
The last election, as observed by tech-savvy voters, was possibly the worst in terms of integrity and trustworthiness. Smartmatic has had enough practice overcoming credibility issues, but with Comelec defending its rights against being kicked out as our service provider, there’s just you, me, DU30, and the world against Smartmatic. The President made no bones about his displeasure when he spoke in Tokyo: “Why are you (Comelec) insisting on Smartmatic? Because of the bidding? You should remove that f—king bidding. . . And if you use that in the next elections three years from now, I don’t know what will happen. Something has got to give. Stop using Smartmatic because many don’t want it. . . I don’t know why Smartmatic continues when they cannot even count the votes, and then their machines malfunction when you use them… Kindly, I am asking you as a co-equal body, it’s just promoting turmoil, please do not use it,” and so on.
And what reply did he get? Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the President was free to “suggest” a change of service provider. Suggest! An exasperated Mr. Duterte was not hinting at or suggesting pulling out Smartmatic, he was commanding it! The problem is not that Comelec is “an independent body” as noted by Mr. Duterte, but that it could not read the message couched in the words “kindly” and “please”—unless Mr. Jimenez was feeling not equal to but above the Big Boss.
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