MANILA A ranking partylist lawmaker at the House of Representatives on Friday expressed his full support for President Rodrigo Duterte's call for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to dispose of Smartmatic, which has been providing the automated counting machines for the past four elections.
We are in full support of President Duterte's order for Comelec to 'dispose' of Smartmatic and 'look for a new one that is free of fraud,' Senior Deputy Minority Leader and BUHAY Party-list Representative Lito Atienza said.
He added that Duterte's action is highly commendable, considering the many problems that have plagued past and present automated elections.
Once again, the President has shown that he has the sensitivity to answer the nation's growing problem of successive elections that have been marred by questions of irregularity. No one has dared to fix it, except President Duterte, Atienza said.
However, the partylist solon said that it is not enough for Comelec to stop using Smartmatic.
Atienza, who has long been calling for the amendment of the Automated Election Law (AEL), urged the poll body to put in place a modified computerized elections system, where the voting and canvassing will be done manually while the results are transmitted electronically.
We should go back to manual voting and counting on the precinct level so everyone can witness the actual counting of the votes, then transmit these electronically, he said.
While this system of manual counting at the precinct level may entail more work, he said the trade off is that watchers can personally see that each vote is counted.
In this way, we can preserve the integrity of the election process because the community can witness and see the counting accuracy at the precinct level, Atienza said.
The former Manila City mayor said that even countries that experimented with the automated election system - such as Germany, the Netherlands and Indonesia - are going back to manual elections after facing the possible hacking that comes with a fully computerized system.
In a democracy, each vote must be safeguarded and counted. In the case of the vote counting machines (VCMs), once your ballot is fed into the machine, you have no way of knowing if your vote was indeed read properly and counted. You are at the mercy of the machine and the programmers, Atienza stressed.
This lack of transparency erodes confidence in a fully automated system, he added.
Speaking before the Filipino community in Tokyo, Japan, President Duterte on Thursday night said that he wants Comelec to dispose Smartmatic because it is no longer acceptable to me, to the people and even to the lawmakers who accompanied him to Japan.
The President also advised the poll body to look for a new provider that is free of fraud and said that Comelec has until the 2022 presidential elections to replace the controversial automated election provider. (PNA)
Source: Philippines News Agency