Palace backs probe on vote counting machine glitches

MANILA MalacaAang on Tuesday backed the call of Senator Aquilino Koko Pimentel III for a probe on glitches experienced by hundreds of vote counting machines (VCMs) during the recent mid-term elections.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said a probe may be necessary since the malfunctioning VCMs have been widely criticized.

Anything that will be for the betterment of this country, we always support, Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

Siguro marami nang nagrereklamo sa Smartmatic (Since there is a lot of complaining about Smartmatic). Let's have the probe then by the Senate or by the House of Reps, he added.

Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto III earlier said he wants to stop the use of VCMs supplied by the Venezuela-based Smartmatic. Apart from the mid-term elections, the machines were also used in the past three automated polls.

Panelo said the Palace is also open to a review of Smartmatic's contract with the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

He described the conduct of elections as successful except for the malfunctioning of VCMs.

If the machine does not function, you have a remedy for that. All you have to do is make a manual counting of the ballots, Panelo said.

He also said it was natural for the VMCs to experience glitches but emphasized the importance of testing before the conduct of elections.

Nevertheless, Panelo congratulated the Comelec for the speedy release of partial and unofficial results within a few hours after voting closed.

Let me congratulate Comelec. Kasi ngayon lang tayo nagkaroon ng within hours nakita na natin ang mga nanalo (It's only now that we have seen the results within hours), he said.

On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte appealed to allow the Comelec to explain the reason behind the malfunctioning VCMs.

If there is any malfunction there or aberration at all in the procedure or process in the conduct of elections, let Comelec first explain to the people before we initiate a sort of investigation, Duterte said in a chance interview after he cast his vote at the Daniel R. Aguinaldo National High School in Davao City.

The Comelec earlier admitted that VCM issues tripled in this year's polls to 400 to 600 malfunctioning VCMs out of the total 85,000. However, it said that this is still within range. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency

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