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Binay wants congressional review of 2016 elections

MANILA, Philippines - Sen. Nancy Binay has sought the immediate convening of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee (JCOC) on the Automated Election System (AES) to review the conduct of the May 2016 national elections.

In filing Senate Resolution 376 on Monday, Binay said Republic Act 9369 or the amended automated election law mandates the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Advisory Council to submit to the JCOC a report evaluating the AES within six months from the date of elections.

Binay said the Comelec has yet to submit its report more than a year after the polls.

 She said the JCOC on the AES should be convened “to conduct a comprehensive review of all the issues relevant to the automated elections, in order that the same may be addressed by the Comelec for succeeding elections, to ensure the integrity of the electoral process, so that the will of the Filipino people, expressed through their sacred right of suffrage, may not be thwarted.”

Binay said the JCOC has the power to conduct a comprehensive assessment and evaluation of the performance of the AES technologies implemented during the past elections and make the necessary recommendations to Congress.

She said the oversight panel is also mandated to conduct a review of the law every 12 months from the date of last elections.

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Precinct count optical scan machines were used in the May 2016 elections.

Among the high-profile electoral protests filed was the one by former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. against Vice President Leni Robredo, whom he accused of cheating using tampered memory cards.

Better elections pushed

Meanwhile, think tank Stratbase Albert del Rosario (ADR) Institute for Strategic and International Studies yesterday asked the Comelec not to sit on its laurels despite the successes in the last polls.

Francisco Magno, a member of Stratbase ADR Board of Trustees, said the Comelec should strive for better elections despite the generally positive reactions over the results of last year’s local and national polls. 

“The general assessment of the 2016 automated elections was undeniably positive and far better than the past two elections in 2010 and 2013. Nationwide surveys showed that the electorate had more confidence in the election system,” Magno said, citing the results of the group’s study of the 2016 polls.

The research paper, “Technology, Democracy and Elections in the Philippines,” looked into the “relationship between election automation and election turnout, especially among the youth and overall credibility.” 

Magno noted that technology could modernize elections when properly implemented. It could be used as a means to address obstacles countries faced with manual voting. 

He added that technology could play a crucial role in creating a more transparent and inclusive electoral process when there is distrust between citizens and governments.

The study took note of the accomplishments during the 2016 polls, such as faster transmission rate, higher accuracy rate in random manual audit and higher voter turnout. 

But Magno said there are still many avenues “to be taken to improve the election system in the country.”

“The Comelec should explore ways to intensify efforts and work alongside political parties and civil society organizations to fully utilize social media to reach the youth and encourage their participation in elections,” he said.

Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said the study made “a fair assessment of what transpired in the 2016 elections.” – With Sheila Crisostomo


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