"We are calling to suspend the proclamation of winning senatorial candidates until the allegation of fraud is resolved," says Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of Caritas, Wednesday.
Philstar.com/Efigenio Toledo IV
Catholic Church's social justice arm urges Comelec to suspend proclamation of senators
James Relativo (Philstar.com) - May 15, 2019 - 1:08pm

MANILA, Philippines — The humanitarian, development and advocacy arm of the Philippine Catholic Church urged the Commission on Elections to call off the upcoming proclamation of senatorial candidates following the suspicion of fraud. 

Caritas Philippines made the announcement after receiving reports of possible fraud due to "major technical glitches" involving vote counting machines and transparency servers.

"We are calling to suspend the proclamation of winning senatorial candidates until the allegation of fraud is resolved," says Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of Caritas, Wednesday.

The organization, which was founded by the Catholic Bishop's Conference of the Philippines in 1996, demanded an independent and impartial investigation into the allegations.

At least 400 to 600 cases of malfunctioning vote counting machines were reported last Monday by Comelec. This is a 220% increase from the 125 machines last 2016 elections.

"It is perhaps still small, out of 85,000. It still seems to be within the range," assured Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez.

However, the Department of Education on Tuesday revealed that they've received 1,333 reports of malfunctioning machines during the May 13 elections.

The data came from consolidated reports of teachers who served as electoral board members, DepEd said in a press conference.

Education Undersecretary Alain del Pascua said they're still going to validate such claims as it was possible that "duplications" were made.

 

The poll body already ruled out the possibility of postponing the proclamation, saying the allegations were unsubstantiated.

“If an allegation of fraud was enough to suspend a proclamation, then there would never be any proclamation because if I were losing, all I’d have to do is allege fraud and everything comes to a standstill,” says Jimenez.

PPCRV looking into glitches

Meanwhile, the church-backed poll watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting already requested data from the Comelec transparency server amid glitches.

The group said the situation calls for transparency "to erase doubts among the people."

Getting a hold of the data, the group insists, would help them determine if it would match the results from the central server.

"For me as a tech person, what is important is to see why it happened in the first place. Second, the data from the central and transparency server should match," explains Myla Villanueva, chairperson of the PPCRV.

Among the things they would want to see are the "logs" of the transparency server, which stopped sending election results for hours last Monday.

Makabayan and Bayan Muna Chairperson Neri Colmenares last Tuesday raised alarm regarding the delays in results, as cheating historically happens during said occurrences.

"In the past, dagdag bawas took place amidst the delays in canvassing and lack of transparency. That is what automation was supposed to cure. But apparently, Comelec has failed on both counts," said the militant candidate.

2019 MIDTERM ELECTIONS CARITAS PHILIPPINES PPCRV SENATE RACE
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