Senate sets June 4 probe for election glitches

Helen Flores - The Philippine Star
Senate sets June 4 probe for election glitches
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has admitted that the number of vote counting machines (VCMs) which bogged down tripled in this year’s vote compared to the 2016 polls.
Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — The joint congressional oversight committee on the automated elections system will conduct a hearing on June 4 on technical glitches that marred the midterm polls, according to panel chair Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has admitted that the number of vote counting machines (VCMs) which bogged down tripled in this year’s vote compared to the 2016 polls.

Around 400 to 600 of the 85,000 VCMs across the country encountered glitches during the May 13 vote.

In the 2016 general elections, only 188 VCMs encountered problems, according to Comelec spokesman James Jimenez.

Pimentel, meanwhile, said it was his co-chairman, CIBAC party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna, who requested that the hearing on VCM glitches be set on June 4.

The senator lamented the glitches happened despite assurances from the Comelec of the machines’ dependability.

“They (Comelec) should examine their tests, which could have been superficial and perfunctory that resulted to ‘passed’ and ‘passed’ results,” Pimentel told radio dzMM.

“This is already our fourth automated elections. Haven’t we learned lessons yet?” he asked.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson said he has many questions to ask the Comelec, including why the poll body shifted from a simultaneous transmission of data at the precinct level as practiced before to a transparency server.

He said an additional stage before the transmission may have caused the stoppage of the dissemination of data for some seven hours on Monday.

He also wants to know who controlled the transparency server, which he said, merely acted as a traffic controller.

“Why did they (Comelec) procure low quality SD cards?” Lacson said.

Election lawyer Romulo Macalintal urged the Senate yesterday to investigate in an executive session the glitches that marred the May 13 midterm elections.

“We don’t need a public hearing. This could only create doubt on the credibility of the elections. I would suggest all investigations in connection with these glitches should be done in executive session,” Macalintal said at the weekly Kapihan sa Manila Bay media forum in Manila.

Macalintal on Tuesday conceded defeat in Monday’s senatorial elections. He ran under the opposition slate Otso Diretso.

Meanwhile, “queue servers,” also known as “meet me room,” may have caused the seven-hour delay in the transmission of votes last Monday, according to election lawyer George Garcia, who was also a guest at yesterday’s media forum.

“The results are not coming on time because these have to pass another (server). We should find out what data pass the server and why the system jammed. This is completely and absolutely out of the public eye,” he said.

Garcia said the presence of a “meet me room” was also questioned in the 2016 elections.

“I hope the Comelec is the one explaining this in a manner that is really understandable to the people,” the lawyer said.

“These are highly technical matters that should be properly explained to the people,” he added.

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