The Commission on Elections on Sunday said it hopes to proclaim the winning senators and party-list groups for 2019 midterm elections on or before Wednesday, May 22.
In an interview with radio dzBB, Frances Arabe, director for the Comelec Education and Information Department, said the poll body cannot give an exact date for the proclamation as this would depend on the progress of the canvassing of votes.
On Sunday afternoon, the transmitted election returns were registered at 98.25 percent, canvassing 86,321 of 87,851 clustered precincts nationwide.
There are only nine certificates of canvass left to be processed. However, the speed of their transmission to the National Board of Canvassers will determine the progress of the tally.
The Comelec is considering the conduct of special elections in the town of Jones in Isabela on Monday following the “intentional burning of vote counting machines” during election day.
Arabe said the Comelec en banc has yet to decide whether it will await the poll results in Jones, Isabela before proclaiming the new senators and party-list winners.
Citing the numerous glitches and delays in transmission during the elections, the National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections said the country should go back to a manual counting of votes.
Augusto Lagman, Namfrel national chairperson, said the automated tallying of votes caused a transparency issue and marred the 2019 midterm polls.
“The manual counting in precincts only last for a day. Just one day! If the people can see it, it’s a big thing,” Lagman told GMA News TV’s Balitanghali Weekend on Sunday.
For Lagman, transparency is more important than the automated elections’ purpose of counting the votes swiftly.
One technical problem caused a seven-hour delay in the transmission of results from the Comelec’s transparency server to news organizations and poll watchdogs.
“As far as I can remember, that was the longest outage we have encountered in our work at Namfrel. So, what happened there? That’s a big question,” Lagman said.
Earlier, the Palace lauded the Comelec for delivering a “big improvement” on the May 13 midterm polls despite the reported malfunction of vote-counting machines and delays in the transmission of results.
Senator Aquilino Pimentel III on Sunday said they will grill the Comelec on these problems when the joint congressional committee on automated elections holds a hearing on June 4.
“It’s the same Smartmatic system. It would be different if there was a change in the system,” Pimentel said, referring to the Comelec’s IT service provider for the last four elections.
He recalled that before Congress adjourned in February, they had looked into the Comelec’s preparedness for the elections.
“We asked them how [are] the [vote counting] machines. We were informed they passed the tests. We asked for the software and we’re told they were ok. So, we will ask them about all the complaints,” Pimentel said in an interview with radio dzBB.
Pimentel, who won reelection, did not say if the believed the glitches affected the polls’ credibility.
“It’s the reason for the hearing. We need to find out what were affected by the glitches. Was there fraud that affected the results of the elections?… We spent P10 billion for the machines,” he said.
In a manifestation, the Liberal Party through its president, Francis Pangilinan, asked the Comelec to release significant details and information on the 961 defective vote counting machines and 1,655 corrupted SD cards.
It also sought a full technical report of the seven-hour “technical glitch” that delayed the transmission of results.
“All these pieces of information are important in determining the [credibility of the] entire process of the elections,” Pangilinan said.
The opposition senator said all this happened amid allegations and reports of the administration’s use of the entire government machinery to influence, if not terrorize, local officials and voters into choosing its candidates.
None of the opposition Otso Diretso senatorial bets are likely to win election, based on the latest poll results.