Group calls for transparency

A pro-democracy group on Tuesday called for clean, credible and transparent elections as technology vendor Smartmatic Phils. Inc. transferred the administration of the automated election system to the Commission on Elections. 

“Transparency is a key principle in ensuring credible elections. It helps establish trust and confidence in the process, as voters have an opportunity to guarantee that the results reflect the true will of the people,” Democracy Watch Philippines Secretary General Claudette Guevara said in a statement.

Guevara said technology is a key to clean and credible elections, as the AES sent the Philippines elections from the dark days of manual elections straight into the digital age in 2010.

She said that while it took several election cycles, it seems that the technology handoff between Smartmatic and Comelec has finally been completed.

“It’s encouraging to see the poll body all fired up to run the automated elections completely on its own,” she said.

Smartmatic’s role has been steadily diminishing over the last few election cycles and has been relegated to just being the system vendor and support in this year’s midterm elections.

The company was involved in around 30 different processes in 2010. While Smartmatic is still setting up the transmission infrastructure this year, very few of its personnel would be on the ground on Election Day, Democracy Watch said.

This means that an overwhelming majority of election workers that will see action this year will be under the direct supervision of Comelec, which would be in control of most components from ballot printing to warehousing and logistics.

“Kudos to both the Comelec and Smartmatic for this successful transfer of technology. This can only bode well for the country,” Guevara said.

Democracy Watch Philippines said automation played a good part in minimizing human intervention which led to faster proclamations of winners and less incidents of poll-related violence in recent elections.

“It’s a testament to the soundness of the AES that it lends itself really well to being taught and transferred. By the same token, it’s a mark of Comelec’s competence that it has learned the system well enough not to need Smartmatic’s help this time,” Guevara said.

The Comelec opened the AES to scrutiny and invited the public to ensure that the code has no insertions that could affect the results of elections.

Also on Tuesday, the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections said it would continue watching over the May 13 elections even without its accreditation from the Comelec.

NAMFREL last week said it declined accreditation after the Comelec denied it access to some data that would have helped identify red-flag incidents.

“NAMFREL will continue its work,” said NAMFREL Chairman Gus Lagman, speaking in Filipino to radio dzMM. “It’s just that we don’t have access to election data, but that does not mean that we will no longer carry on with other activities.” 

Topics: Commission on Elections , Smartmatic Phils. Inc. , Democracy Watch Philippines , Claudette Guevara
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