Ex-poll chief defends Comelec vs Gordon

Mayen Jaymalin - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Sixto Brillantes yesterday took up the cudgels for the poll body and questioned former senator Richard Gordon’s real intent in filing a complaint before the Supreme Court – apparently to get publicity.

Brillantes said Gordon, a senatorial bet in the coming polls, appeared to be merely seeking publicity when he filed a petition asking the SC to compel the Comelec to activate the voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT) or the printing of voter’s receipt after casting the vote.

“Why file the case now with the Supreme Court? Why during the campaign period? Why did he not raise the issues before the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee (JCOC) within one year after the 2010 and 2013 elections? Apparently, the filing of the case before the SC is intended as a publicity stunt,” Brillantes posted in his Twitter account.

Brillantes asked why Gordon is raising the issue only now when the Comelec has issued the General Instruction (GI) to the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) that has no provision on printing of voter receipts.

Since Gordon authored Republic Act 9369, the former senator said he is therefore aware that the issue of not allowing the printing of receipts is within one year from the conduct of the 2010 and 2013 elections.

Brillantes said the matter should have been raised before the JCOC, but Gordon never took such action.

Gordon also did not raise the absence of voter receipts when he ran and lost for president in 2010 and for senator in 2013.

“It can be recalled that the commission under Chairman Jose Melo, under my watch and in 2016 under Chairman Andres Bautista have unanimously adopted the position not to allow the printing of receipts. That decision was not capriciously and whimsically arrived at,” Brillantes pointed out.

Gordon, for his part, is happy with the SC order to the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to answer in five days his petition to compel the poll body to comply with the automation law’s VVPAT.

“Why will you not implement it? What is your reason?“

Gordon said, “They cannot suspend it, they cannot amend it, they cannot change it.”

Citing its numerous disadvantages, the Comelec previously dismissed calls for the activation of the voter receipts feature of the automated voting machine.

Brillantes said they had similar findings after tedious deliberations and studies.

The SC had also ruled that with the Comelec using a paper-based voting technology, the ballots are considered as the VVPAT, Brillantes said.

“Since the Comelec is using a paper-based technology, the non-printing of receipt, as ruled by the SC, is not a violation of the law as erroneously claimed by senator Gordon and other detractors,” Brillantes explained.

Brillantes said the Comelec should ignore Gordon’s petition and just concentrate on its election preparation.

The Comelec is now considering the possibility of allowing the printing of voter’s receipt only for those voting abroad.

Comelec chair Bautista said the commission is discussing the possibility of activating the VVPAT for overseas absentee voting (OAV).

“We are studying the time and motion. Hopefully, we can already come out with a decision on that,” Bautista disclosed.

He said voters in the OAV are given 30 days to cast their vote and they are not that many so there is more time.

Filipino voters abroad would start voting on April 9 until May 9.

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