MANILA The head of the minority bloc at the House of Representatives on Wednesday filed a resolution calling for an investigation on the technical glitches during the 2019 midterm elections, which he said has allegedly tainted the integrity and credibility of the ballots.
In filing House Resolution No. 2562, Quezon 3rd District Rep. Danilo Suarez noted that during the course of the May 13 elections, it was reported that at least 961 vote counting machines (VCMs) out of the 85,000 provided by Smartmatic malfunctioned.
This resulted to rejection of ballots and delays in the feed of ballots into the functional replacement machines. Also, 1,665 SD cards were reportedly corrupted and rejected by the VCMs and needed replacement, Suarez said.
These setbacks contributed greatly to the delayed and bottlenecked transmission of votes to the Commission on Election (Comelec) transparency servers' hours after the closing of the polls, he added.
According to the veteran lawmaker, the unbundled system in the procurement process may have contributed to the election problems due to the many compatibility issues between equipment and supplies.
Started in 2013, the unbundled system of procurement was aimed to make the bids more affordable so more companies will be able to participate.
While the Venezuelan-owned Smartmatic Corporation has been providing the machines used for the Philippine automated elections since 2010, a joint venture between S-1 Technologies and Silicon Valley Computer won the bidding for the supply of SD cards for the 2019 elections.
Suarez said despite an approved budget of PHP80 million, the contract for the supply of SD cards was only worth PHP29 million.
Based on the Information we gathered the quality of the SD cards was compromised. The poor quality of the SD cards was consequently attributed to the low bid price accepted by Comelec, said Suarez during the Minority Bloc's regular press briefing.
The outgoing Quezon lawmaker said these issues have been hounding the poll body since the country resorted to automated elections.
Given the time and budget, the issues regarding the machines and other supplies are still unresolved despite the automated elections being implemented for the fourth time, he said.
The technical glitches during the 2019 midterm elections and the inefficient bidding process for the supplies and equipment tainted the integrity and inviolability of the ballots. Thus, an investigation is in order, Suarez said.
Other members of the House minority bloc supported Suarez's call.
Ako Bicol Partylist Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr. said a lot of voters were disenfranchised due to the technical glitches, especially in his home region.
Bicol region was probably the most affected by the problem on VCMs and SD cards. A lot of voters were disenfranchised. Many decided to go home because of the long lines caused by the malfunctioning VCMs, he said in the same press briefing.
He also assailed the many instances where voters were made to leave their ballots in the custody of the election boards and let the latter feed the ballots when the VCMs were able to function properly.
Iniwan na lang ang balota (They just left their balloits). Under the law, the voter himself should be the one to feed the ballot in the VCM. That alone would place doubts in the people's minds on the credibility of the elections, he said.
Sad to say, the Comelec failed to deliver a credible, honest and peaceful elections, Garbin said.
In the meantime, Buhay Partylist Rep. Lito Atienza said computerized elections should mean an efficient count immediately after the elections.
Yet, it took nine days of painstaking anticipation before the winners were proclaimed. A slow count, a 7-hour transmission blackout, malfunctioning VCMs and corrupted SD cards, all these should be answered. If not, we have to move for reforms, and changing of the system, he said.
I supposed the people are not happy. We must act now. We must change the system for the better, Atienza said. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency