A former official of Smartmatic, the technology partner of the Commission on Elections, admitted Tuesday that precincts in Libon, Albay were transmitting results to the poll body’s transmission server even before Election Day.
In testimony before the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Automated Election System, former Smartmatic operations officer Jeffrey Ian Dy said the transmission occurred between May 3 and 9.
Dy could not say if the early transmission affected the election results, but acknowledged that this was wrong and prohibited under Comelec rules.
The anomaly uncovered during the three-hour hearing compounded the Comelec’s problems, which included more than 1,000 vote counting machines malfunctioning on Election Day and a seven-hour delay in the transmission of results from the transparency server to media organizations and poll watchdogs.
The hearing also revealed that 1,051 VCMs had malfunctioned during the May 13 polls and that some 2,246 SD cards had been corrupted.
The committee, chaired by Senator Aquilino Pimentel III and CIBAC Party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna, said the findings highlighted the urgent need to replace Smartmatic, which has been the Comelec’s technology partner through four automated elections since 2010.
The panel castigated the Comelec for failing to prevent the glitches and the transmission delays despite a P10 billion budget for the conduct of the polls.
The Comelec had earlier blamed the failure of the SD cards on the supplier who had won the bid for their supply, S1-Silicon Valley.
Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo said the P29 million bid submitted by the winning bidder was substantially lower than the P80 million budget the poll body had set aside for the SD cards.
Last week, President Rodrigo Duterte, citing the many technical problems encountered during the last elections, urged the Comelec to drop Smartmatic as its technology partner, saying the votes were “not being counted truthfully.”
Poll watchdog groups and several Catholic bishops also supported the President’s call to ban Smartmatic from future elections.
The call for such a ban was also supported by the lawyer of former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr
., who has a pending election protest in the 2016 race for vice president.
The lawyer and spokesperson Vic Rodriguez pointed to the Comelec’s own acknowledgment of Smartmatic’s incompetence during the congressional hearing Tuesday.
“There is nothing left for Comelec to do but perpetually ban Smartmatic from participating in any part whatsoever in our electoral processes and end sabotaging the genuine will of the Filipino people,” Rodriguez said.
He added that it was time Filipino IT experts and companies ensure that elections are free from fraud and foreign intervention.
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