Junk Smartmatic call backed

June 02, 2019
Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Former Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr. supports Duterte call for Comelec to scrap poll technology provider.

THE camp of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Sunday backed the call of President Rodrigo Duterte for the Commission on Elections to dump the Venezuelan-owned poll technology provider Smartmatic following numerous complaints about the efficiency of its vote counting machines, several hundreds of which malfunctioned, raising some doubts on the integrity of the May 13 midterm elections.

“It’s a patriotic call made by the President which we all should patriotically respond to,” Marcos lawyer and spokesperson Vic Rodriguez said, agreeing to the President’s call for the poll body not to renew its contract with Smartmatic as technology provider in the 2022 presidential election.

Rodriguez also slammed Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez for making a statement that the poll body cannot ban Smartmatic from participating in the public bidding without legal basis.

The Marcos lawyer stressed that Section 1 and Section 7 of Republic Act 9369, or the Automated Election Law, have provided the basis for disqualifying a company from a public bidding.

“Yung Section 1 malinaw na sinasaad na duty ng estado na makapaghanap ng isang system ng election na ang result will be fast, accurate and reflective of the genuine wishes of the Filipino people,” Atty. Rodriguez said.

“Yung Section 7 din naman po ay malinaw yung system capabilities. Dalawa po yung sinasabi dyan, dapat po may adequate security against unauthorized access, which brings back yung nangyari nung 2016 elections,” he added.

Marcos has a pending election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo before the Supreme Court, sitting as Presidential Electoral Tribunal, questioning her proclamation as the elected vice president in the 2016 elections.

Rodriguez recalled that they already questioned the unconstitutionality or legality of the automated election system used in the 2016 elections.

Comelec faced criticism during the May 13 midterm elections after hundreds of vote-counting machines provided by Smartmatic encountered glitches and real-time election results were delayed for seven hours due to technical problems.

President Duterte on Thursday urged the Comelec to end its partnership with Smartmatic amid numerous complaints about its efficiency and capability to maintain the integrity of the electoral exercises in the country.

The President said the countless complaints and allegations in recent midterm elections created a “hostile attitude” toward Smartmatic.

“I would like to advise Comelec, now, I wouldn’t wait anymore, dispose of Smartmatic and look for a new one that is free of fraud,” Duterte said, noting the numerous complaints against the Venezuelan technology provider coming from not only from the administration, but also from the opposition Liberal Party candidates.

Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez also agreed with the call of the President for the Comelec to dispose of the Smartmatic as technology provider in the future conduct of elections in the country.

It is high time for the Comelec to stop using Smartmatic, not only because it failed to provide efficient and reliable election technology, as can be seen from the numerous complaints, including the malfunction of several hundreds of its VCMs, but also due to the widespread distrust by the public of the PCOS machines or VCMs. The Smartmatic problem has become untenable and, in fact, become a threat to the country’s democracy, particularly in maintaining the integrity and sanctity of the electoral processes, Romualdez stressed.

The Comelec used Smartmatic VCMs, previously known as Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines – since its first automated elections in 2010. Two years later, the poll body decided to buy the 97,000 VCMs used in 2016. This year, the Comelec used again the same machines.

Rodriguez recalled that the Comelec awarded the P7.2 billion contract to Smartmatic with the expectation that it could provide the needed technology for orderly, speedy and credible conduct of elections using its controversial PCOS machines.

“Ngunit ang inaasahang maayos, malinis at mabilis na halalan ay hindi nangyari dahil nagkaroon  ng mga glitches tulad ng mga ‘errors’  sa flash cards na naglalaman ng listahan ng mga botante at mga kandidato,” he noted.

“Several hundreds of Smartmatic’s PCOS or VCMs also malfunctioned that resulted in the delay in the transmission of votes from the canvassing centers. Many of these PCOS machines also failed to recognize the built-in ultraviolet mark readers in the ballot,” the Marcos lawyer lamented.

“Despite failures and errors by the Smartmatic PCOS machines, I wondered why the Comelec still used them in 2013 midterm elections, which became more controversial due to the 60-30-10 distribution of votes,” he said.

“Yung 2013 (election), natabunan na lang, pero di yun sistematic na 60,30,10. Yung mga nanalo binigyan ng 60% na total (votes). Dinistribute eh, di ba. Yung para pizza pie method. Yung bigger share bigay mo dito, eto ang panalo. Etong isa para naman hindi umalma bigyan mo ng boto, yung isa para hindi (ma)zero, lagyan mo ng 10%. And that is 60,30,10 infamous,”  Atty. Rodriguez added.

In the 2013 polls, the majority of the winning senatorial candidates belonged to the administration party of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

The Smartmatic PCOS machines were again used in the 2016 elections, but the political exercises were marred with massive electoral fraud and rampant cheating, including the shaving of votes intended for then vice presidential candidate Marcos.

This prompted Marcos to file an election protest against Robredo before the PET, appealing to the SC magistrates to set aside her proclamation and instead declare the former senator as the duly elected Vice President of the Republic of the Philippines.

“Etong 2016 (election) talaga naman, ninakaw ang boto ni Senador Marcos. Biglang bumaliktad ang resulta. Thanks to Smartmatic,” Atty. Rodriquez lamented.

He noted that despite glitches in the transmission of votes for vice presidential candidates in 2016, the transmission of votes for senatorial candidates continued.

According to him, Marcos was leading by more than 1 million votes when glitches occurred, but when the transmission resumed, Marcos turned out no longer leading the canvassing.

Rodriguez noted that the same “aberration” occurred during the canvassing of votes in the recently concluded 2019 senatorial election, particularly a seven-hour delay in the transmission of votes due to malfunctioned VCMs and SD cards.

“Meaning, they’ve (Smartmatic) been here for the longest time and yet they have yet to perfect a very simple solution of providing a worry free automated election. Sinasabi nila they’re the best duon sa field, why can’t you provide us the best possible automated election experience?” Atty.Rodriguez said, despite being the Comelec’s technology provider since 2010 polls.

“Naniningil na ang sambayanang Filipino, both sa Smartmatic at sa Comelec. Ibasura na natin si problematic Smartmatic. Stop fooling the Filipino people and thank you President Duterte for finally making a direct statement na ibasura na ang Smartmatic,” he added.