Comelec: Smartmatic role in 2019 polls diminished

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
Comelec: Smartmatic role in 2019 polls diminished
The Comelec and Smartmatic are currently undergoing a process called “technology transfer” which, according to Jimenez, could not be achieved in one election.

MANILA, Philippines — Smartmatic will have a limited role in this year’s midterm elections, Commission on Elections (Comelec) spokesman James Jimenez said yesterday.

“The trajectory of the Comelec since the 2013 elections had been diminishing the importance of Smartmatic. In 2010, it had almost 30 operations wherein it was very intimately involved in many aspects of the process but, make no mistake about this, the Comelec was in full control,” Jimenez said.

He issued the statement in response to a remark of Rona Caritos, executive director of the Legal Network for Truthful Elections, that the poll body would be questioned on the accuracy of the results of the elections, as some issues in the 2016 polls remain unresolved.

Caritos said critics would continue to doubt the automated election system (AES) for as long as Smartmatic remains to be the service provider of the poll body.

Jimenez said the role of Smartmatic has been decreasing since the elections became automated from 2010 to 2016.  

“Right now, Smartmatic has been relegated to the status of tech support. The machines are made by Smartmatic, yes. But it’s just hardware,” Jimenez said.

The Comelec and Smartmatic are currently undergoing a process called “technology transfer” which, according to Jimenez, could not be achieved in one election. 

He admitted the poll body is pressured “to do better” every election, for which reason they see to it that the AES is always improved.  

Jimenez said that despite the accusations hurled against the technology, none of them have been proven yet.  

“Since 2010 to now, there has been no evidence that the results were faulty… If people say they have doubts, they are talking about theirs. Personally, I don’t see that they are talking about the Filipino people,” he said.

Arroyo pol fraud acquittal hit

Meanwhile, poll watchdog Kontra Daya condemned a court ruling acquitting former president now Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo of electoral sabotage during the 2007 senatorial polls.

Kontra Daya convenor Danilo Arao said the decision is “unacceptable.”

“During her incumbency as president, election fraud was so widespread that even the statistical improbability of 12-0 in favor of the administration’s senatorial candidates happened in areas like Maguindanao, which was controlled by the Ampatuans,” Arao said.

He said the acquittal sends a dangerous message of intensified election fraud in the upcoming polls, as no “big fish” has been punished for committing the offense.

“If the Comelec wants clean and honest elections, appealing the case is advisable given the extent of cheating at that time,” he said.

In a decision dated Dec. 17, 2018, the Pasay City Regional Trial Court Branch 112 junked the electoral sabotage filed by the poll body against Arroyo.

The court said the prosecution failed to prove that Arroyo was guilty beyond reasonable doubt, although she did not present any controverting evidence.

The case stemmed from Arroyo’s alleged order to the late Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan Sr. to “ensure a 12-0” victory for the senatorial slate of her administration’s “Team Unity” during the 2007 midterm polls.

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