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Palace downplays probe calls on poll glitches

Malacañang believes that the result of the May 13 midterm elections are credible despite glitches experienced by the transparency server and vote counting machines.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo assured the public that the Commission on Elections will be investigating the problems encountered by the transparency server, but noted that this would not affect the election results.

“It doesn’t matter if it gets delayed. Because if it’s just delayed, but has the same number of votes, what’s the problem there?” Panelo said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Meanwhile, party-list and various cause-oriented groups associated with the opposition denounced what they called “massive fraud” in the May 13 elections.

Former Commission on Human Rights chairperson Etta Rosales urged the COMELEC to conduct random manual audits for the party-list votes.

Also, the opposition Liberal Party, which seemed headed for a shutout in the senatorial race, asked the COMELEC to reveal the location of the nearly 2,000 VCMs that malfunctioned.

In a petition, the LP likewise requested the poll body to release the audit and system logs of the transparency server and the technical report that would explain the seven-hour delay in the transmission of votes to the main server at the Philippine International Convention Center.

The letter was sent to the COMELEC four days after glitches cast doubt on the credibility of the midterm elections. 

As for the glitches in the VCMs, Panelo said votes could always be counted manually—a statement that ran counter to the COMELEC position that precincts with defective VCMs should have waited for their replacement.

Panelo supported calls for an investigation into alleged ballot tempering in Lanao del Sur.

Despite the overwhelming victory of pro-administration candidates, Panelo said the new senators would not follow the President blindly. With Macon Ramos-Araneta and PNA

He again emphasized the important role that lawmakers play in fulfilling the President’s agenda.

Most of the well-known party-list groups, including Gabriela, Anakpawis, and Alliance of Concerned Teachers, received significantly fewer votes this year in areas that had been their traditional bailiwicks, giving rise to suspicions of fraud.

Anakpawis nominee Cathy Estavillo said her party received zero votes in precincts where the group had members as registered voters, including Caloocan and Valenzuela cities.

In a complaint addressed to COMELEC Commissioner Luie Guia, head of the RMA Audit Committee, they cited the alleged widespread instances of discrepancy between the votes in the ballots and the result reflected in the vote verification paper audit trail.

The group also demanded an independent investigation of technical glitches that marred 2019 midterm elections, giving rise to suspicions of fraud.

Tindig Pilipino party also wants to look into the problems that led to a seven-hour delay in the transmission of results on Monday, saying an independent investigation was necessary as they expressed apprehension over Duterte administration’s control over the Senate and the House of Representatives.

A militant women’s group, the Center for Women’s Resources said the recent midterm polls failed to reflect the true sentiments of the electorate.

Edz de la Cruz of CWR denounced “the systemic attack on our democratic rights with vote rigging and vote buying.’’

“The results did not reflect our votes,” De la Cruz said.

Earlier, COMELEC spokesman James Jimenez said 961 VCMs and 1,665 secure digital (SD) cards had malfunctioned on the day of the elections. This was higher that the glitches in the 2016 election.

The COMELEC acknowledged the technical problems but denied there was any cheating.

COMELEC chairman Sherif Abas earlier said VCMs could have malfunctioned due to the low quality of SD cards, saying 1,665 SD cards malfunctioned, accounting for 1.9 percent of the 85,000 SD cards used.

Despite these problems, Abas said that the electoral process was “successful.”

Seven of the opposition Otso Diresto’s candidates have conceded defeat. Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino III, who hovered near the 12th spot, was the only hope for an LP win.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III yesterday said the government should not give full payment to the supplier of the SD cards since some of them malfunctioned.

He also wanted to know if the COMELEC had conducted any random tests on the SD cards before accepting them from their supplier.

Pimentel has scheduled a June 4 hearing on the glitches that beset the May 13 elections.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, meanwhile, dismissed as “fake news” reports that it called for a suspension of the proclamation of winning candidates pending an investigation of the poll glitches.

In a statement Friday, CBCP president and Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles said they have made no such call.

“That is again pure fake news. That is not true that the CBCP issued such a call or appeal,” Valles said in a statement.

Last week, the CBCP also denied that it had endorsed any candidates.

The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, an accredited poll watchdog group, will examine audit logs from the COMELEC’s transparency server to determine why there was a seven-hour delay in its transmission of results.

“We hope that by Sunday or Monday we can give you more information,” PPCRV chairman Myla Villanueva said from the PPCRV command center in Manila. With Macon Ramos-Araneta and PNA

READ: Congress sets June 4 probe of poll glitches

READ: Comelec ignores CBCP call

Topics: May 13 midterm elections , Salvador Panelo , Commission on Elections , Etta Rosales
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