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Former execs call for manual, citizen-led audit of ballots from 2022 polls

Philstar.com
Former execs call for manual, citizen-led audit of ballots from 2022 polls
Citizens of Potrero, Malabon cast their votes at Potrero Elementary School on May 9, Wednesday.
Philstar.com / Deejae Dumlao

MANILA, Philippines — Former officials are calling for a citizen-initiated random manual audit of votes amid speculations on the conduct and results of the recently concluded May 9 polls.

In a Pandesal Forum held at the Kamuning Bakery Cafe on Wednesday, former Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) officer-in-charge secretary Eliseo Rio Jr., National Citizens Movement for Free Elections National Chairman Augusto Lagman, and former  Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines president Franklin Ysaac said this would help clear the air on the doubts clouding over the recent polls.

“Wala kaming inaakusahan, sinasabi namin na mayroong lumabas na mahirap i-explain kung hindi natin talaga suriin,” said Rio, who is also a retired Armed Forces general.

(We are not pointing fingers, what we’re saying is there were anomalies noted that are difficult to explain if we don’t really investigate it.)

“Itong lumabas ay it is a ‘smoking gun’ to a possible dayaan, pero kung hindi talaga tayo makasuri sa balota na randomly pipiliin ng taumbayan, hindi natin masasagot ‘yan,” he added.

(What we found is a “smoking gun” that could possibly lead to proof of cheating, but if we don’t have citizens randomly check the ballots, we can’t really answer these questions.)

They presented what they saw as alleged irregularities that occurred during the conduct of the national and local elections, which included the possible hacking or tampering of the system used for the automated election system.

Also noted was what was seen as a pattern in the vote ratio reported through the Commission on Elections’ transparency server. 

Over 20,000 attempts to hack this year’s polls were reported, but the country’s National Security Adviser earlier said all of these failed “because our automated election system is efficient.” 

Meanwhile, the Comelec’s citizens’ arm Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) noted these concerns, but said it does not reflect any irregularities. The PPCRV does its own manual audit of the election returns printed pre-transmission. 

While the group believes that all these incidents are merely “circumstantial,” it would be best if a manual audit was conducted and led by citizens to put everyone’s minds to ease. They also said the ballot boxes should be protected in case someone would file an eletion protest.

"Ito 'yung aming starting [point]. Hindi ito para kay Leni, hindi ito para sa whoever. Ito ay para sa taumbayan, in fact ito rin ay para kay BBM, kay Sara–na para mawala ‘yung doubt sa tao na in other words, simpleng random audit but this time, gawin in a very transparent manner," Rio said.

(This is our starting point. This is not for Leni, this is not for whoever. This is for the Filipino people, in fact this is also for BBM, for Sara—so that the people will no longer have doubts, we just need to do a simple random audit but this time, we do it in a very transparent manner.)

2022 ELECTIONS

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