James Jimenez, Comelec spokesman, said proclamation of winning candidates cannot be suspended based on unsubstantiated allegations of fraud.
Geremy Pintolo
Suspension of senatorial proclamation ruled out
Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) - May 16, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday ruled out suspending the proclamation of the 12 winning senators amid allegations of anomalies in the conduct of the elections.

James Jimenez, Comelec spokesman, said proclamation of winning candidates cannot be suspended based on unsubstantiated allegations of fraud.

He further warned against postponing proclamation after the canvassing has been completed as it would complicate the conduct of elections.

“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,” Jimenez explained.

According to Jimenez, allegations of fraud are speculative, and despite some problems during the voting, various election watch groups and poll watchers could attest to the fact that nothing irregular occurred during the midterm polls.

“There was a problem with the small part of the process, but it would not affect the integrity of the results,” Jimenez pointed out.

He said the Comelec already explained the reason for the delay in transmission and that the public or any interested party can validate the results of the elections if they want to.

The Commission, he said, had already offered to open up the logs and show them to everyone.

If the problem were in the transmission, he said, those complaining of fraud may verify it through the eight copies of election results printed from the vote counting machines to see if there were discrepancies.

He said political parties and election watchdogs also have those printed copies aside from the Comelec.

“Admittedly, there were problems in the last elections, definitely someone will be held liable for that. But there is no reason to jeopardize the process and distrust the system,” Jimenez stressed.

Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) national chair Myla Villanueva said they would insist on getting access to the computer logs.

Villanueva said that they would “absolutely” look into the glitch but they may have to wait until the transparency server stops receiving transmission from the VCMs at polling precincts before they get the logs.

“It is right to wait. We do not want to disrupt the transparency server because it is still receiving data. I am sure they also want to know what happened. Definitely we want to know… But I prefer to wait because that is post-forensic. It is a way of auditing,” she said.

“For me as a tech person, what is important is to see why it happened in the first place. Second aspect, the data from the central and transparency server should match,” she added.

The transparency server is housed at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center, where PPCRV’s command center is also located.

The seven-member commission, sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBoC), had canvassed less than half of the total 134 certificate of canvass (CoCs) nationwide as of yesterday.

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Secretariat for Social Action, Justice and Peace said the proclamation of the winning senators should be suspended until fraud allegations have been impartially investigated and resolved.

“We are calling to suspend the proclamation of the winning senatorial candidates until the issue of fraud is resolved,” CBCP-NASSA executive secretary Fr. Edu Gariguez said.

“We demand an independent and impartial investigation of the alleged fraud and manipulation of automated canvassing by the Commission on Elections and Smartmatic,” he added

For the local elections, Jimenez reported that candidates from 366 municipalities have already been proclaimed.

Comelec previously said that winning candidates in cities and municipalities can be proclaimed within 24 hours, while provincial candidates can be proclaimed within 78 hours.

The winning 12 senators are expected to be proclaimed within two weeks after the elections. – Evelyn Macairan

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