Brillantes slams PCOS critics, cries sabotage

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Apparently piqued over continued criticism of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes yesterday accused some poll watchdogs of trying to sabotage the May 13 polls.

“The continued assertion of falsehood by AES Watch, CENPEG et al aims nothing but to sow public mistrust & sabotage the upcoming elections,” Brillantes posted in his Twitter account.

The poll chief was referring to the claims of the Automated Election System Watch (AES Watch) and Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPeg) that Comelec would be using “pirated” technology in the coming polls.

This is because Dominion Voting System, owner of the source code to the PCOS units, had terminated its licensing agreement with Smartmatic which supplied the voting and counting machines.

But Brillantes said that the purchase of the PCOS machines was made in March 30, 2012, while the cancellation of Smartmatic’s contract by Dominion occurred on May 23, 2012.

He added that under the law, contractual obligations that have accrued prior to cancellation bind all parties, in this case both Dominion and Smartmatic.

“In other words, we became the legal owner of the machines and software even before cancellation and we remain as such even after. The representative of the Philippines is the legal and true owner of the PCOS machines, including the software installed therein,” he said.

Brillantes said this is the basic rule on contracts “that our non-lawyer critics don’t care to understand or which their lawyers did not explain to them.”

Brillantes challenged the Comelec’s critics to raise their concerns with the Supreme Court.

“Let’s get it over and done with. We have so many things to do at the Comelec and I won’t do it your way. I will follow only the Supreme Court,” he said.

Election failure

Meanwhile, AES Watch yesterday said that the Comelec might commit a “potentially impeachable offense” if the PCOS machines do not work.

“Is the repeated failure to comply with the automation law and the fixation to use the defective Smartmatic-provided system setting the stage for a possible election failure? If this is so, the Comelec has nobody to blame but itself for what are potentially impeachable offenses. It should stop pointing the finger at the usual suspected culprits like the teachers, poll watchdogs, and the voters themselves,” the AES Watch said in a statement.

The election watchdog raised concern on how the poll body is preparing for the upcoming midterm election and if it is complying with provisions under Republic Act 9369 or the Automated Election Law.

The group mentioned the problems that surfaced during the May 2010 national and local elections such as ballot rejections, transmission failure, inaccuracy of the vote count, election returns and certificates of canvass not digitally signed as required by law.

The problems reportedly came out during the mock elections conducted by the Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms at the House of Representatives on July 24 and 25, 2012 and in 10 cities and municipalities last Feb. 2.

“The same problems and issues, regarded by Comelec as minor glitches, are highly likely to resurface during the midterm election which could result in inaccurate vote counts and tallies and disenfranchisement of voters,” it said.– With Evelyn Macairan                       



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