Smartmatic vote counting machine
The STAR/Edd Gumban, File
Comelec carefully studying Duterte’s comments on midterm polls
Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - May 31, 2019 - 11:59am

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections is taking the comments of President Rodrigo Duterte on the conduct of the May midterm elections seriously, the poll body’s spokesperson said Friday.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the commission would carefully study the statements of Duterte, who said the poll body should terminate its deal with firm Smartmatic in the wake of technological hiccups that marred the midterm elections.

“Marami tayong kailangang pag-aralan sa statement ni presidente. Malaman ‘yung statement ng presidente. Over the next few days, talagang pag-uusapan ‘yan sa komisyon,” Jimenez said in a press briefing organized by the National Press Club.

(There is a lot to study on the statement of the president. His statement is meaty. The commission will discuss that over the next few days.)

The takeaway from Duterte’s speech was that the president is not rejecting the automated system but he is not satisfied with the service provider, Jimenez stressed.

In a speech before the Filipino community in Japan Thursday, Duterte said the Comelec should get rid of Smartmatic, which he accused of promoting cheating.

“I would like to advise Comelec now, I won’t wait for it (SONA) anymore: dispose of that Smartmatic and look for a new one that is free of fraud,” the chief executive said.

When asked if the poll body could ban Smartmatic, Jimenez answered there must be a legal basis to prohibit any supplier.

Bidding

In the same speech, Duterte questioned Comelec for sticking to Smartmatic despite the issues that hounded its vote counting machines.

“Why are you insisting on Smartmatic? Because of bidding?” Duterte asked.

The president then urged the poll body to do away with bidding as he claimed the next elections would be facing uncertainties if Smartmatic remains the service provider.

Jimenez said the chief executive’s suggestion needs a lot of consideration.

“Isa sa mga sinabi ng pangulo eh tanggalin ang bidding. Definitely, kakailanganin ng masusing pag-aaral ‘yan sa Comelec kasi tayo under ng Commission on Audit rules, under tayo ng rules na nag-re-require ng public bidding so kung magagawan natin ng paraan ‘yan bakit hindi?” he said.

(The president mentioned the removal of bidding process. It definitely needs a serious study because the Comelec is under COA rules, we are under rules that require public bidding. So if we find a way, why not?)

Technical hiccups such as defective vote counting machines, corrupted SD cards and hours-long delay of update from the poll body’s transparency survey as well as alleged cheating incidents raised questions on the credibility and integrity of the May elections.

2019 MIDTERM ELECTIONS COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS RODRIGO DUTERTE SMARTMATIC
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