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Marcos blasts Smartmatic VCMs

The camp of former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. on Sunday backed the call of President Rodrigo Duterte for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to drop its technology partner Smartmatic, after numerous complaints about malfunctioning vote counting machines and a seven-hour delay in the transmission of election results.

DUMPED. President Rodrigo Roa Duterte feeds his ballot into the vote counting machine during the midterm elections in his precinct in Davao City on May 13, 2019.  Weeks after, Mr. Duterte ordered Comelec to dump Smartmatic as partner.  Presidential Photo
“It’s a patriotic call made by the President which we all should patriotically respond to,” Marcos lawyer and spokesperson Vic Rodriguez said, agreeing to the President’s call for the poll body not to renew its contract with Smartmatic as technology provider in the 2022 presidential election.

Rodriguez also slammed Comelec spokesman James Jimenez for making a statement that the poll body cannot ban Smartmatic from participating in the public bidding without legal basis.

The Marcos lawyer cited several provisions in the Automated Election Law that provide basis for disqualifying a company from public bidding.

Section 1, he said, states that it is the duty to the state to find a system that would be fast, accurate and reflective of the genuine will of the people.

Section 7, on the other hand, addresses the need for adequate security against unauthorized access to the automated system, a breach that occurred in 2016, he said.

Marcos has a pending election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo before the Supreme Court, sitting as President Electoral Tribunal, questioning her proclamation as the elected vice president in 2016 elections.

Rodriguez recalled that they already questioned the unconstitutionality or legality of the automated election system used in the 2016 elections.

President Duterte on Thursday urged the Comelec to end its partnership with Smartmatic amid numerous complaints about its efficiency and capability to maintain the integrity of the electoral exercises in the country.

The President said the countless complaints and allegations in recent midterm elections created a “hostile attitude” toward Smartmatic.

“I would like to advise Comelec, now, I wouldn’t wait anymore, dispose of Smartmatic and look for a new one that is free of fraud,” Duterte said, noting the numerous complaints against the Venezuelan technology provider coming from not only from the administration, but also from the opposition Liberal Party candidates.

Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez also agreed with the call of the President to dump Smartmatic.

“It is high time for the Comelec to stop using Smartmatic, not only because it failed to provide efficient and reliable election technology, as can be seen from the numerous complaints, including the malfunction of several hundreds of its VCMs, but also due to the widespread distrust by the public of the PCOS machines or VCMs. The Smartmatic problem has become untenable and, in fact, become a threat to country’s democracy, particularly in maintaining the integrity and sanctity of the electoral processes,” Romualdez said.

The Comelec used Smartmatic VCMs, previously known as Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines – since its first automated elections in 2010. Two years later, the poll body decided to buy the 97,000 VCMs used in 2016. This year, the Comelec used the same machines again.

Rodriguez recalled that the Comelec awarded the P7.2 billion contract to Smartmatic with the expectation that it could provide the needed technology for orderly, speedy and credible conduct of elections using its controversial PCOS machines.

But several hundreds of Smartmatic’s VCMs malfunctioned that resulted in the delay in the transmission of votes from the canvassing centers. Many of these machines also failed to recognize the built-in ultraviolet mark readers in the ballot, the Marcos lawyer said.

“Despite failures and errors by the Smartmatic PCOS machines, I wondered why the Comelec still used them in 2013 midterm elections, which became more controversial due to the 60-30-10 distribution of votes,” he said.

In 2013 polls, majority of the winning senatorial candidates belonged to the administration party of former President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

READ: Dump Smartmatic—Rody

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , COMELEC , Commission on Elections , Martin Romualdez , Vic Rodriguez
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