May 7, 2010
Commission on Elections (Comelec) chair Jose Melo must reserve his smile until after the elections.
Pagbabago! People’s Movement for Change issued the statement as it called for increased public vigilance despite repeated assurances from poll officials that the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines are now running perfectly and that elections will push through on Monday.
“No matter what the Comelec says now, they could no longer make the public fully believe in the integrity of the automated elections. Lest we forget, Melo and other poll officials told us several weeks ago that its all systems go for the May 10 elections. And then the PCOS machines malfunctioned, raising concerns about postponed or failed elections. We are uncertain what other glitches can occur on Monday. Now more than ever, we need to be vigilant and prepared to take action once the elections fail. It’s our best safeguard against those scheming to derail the polls for their vested political interests”, said Pagbabago! Spokesperson Bibeth Orteza.
Melo said Thursday that he is now smiling again after the Comelec and Smartmatic were able to assure the public that “elections will push through in all levels, in all precincts”.
Comelec was forced to recall Tuesday 76,300 compact flash (CF) cards for replacement after the final testing and sealing in various precincts in Metro Manila and other areas showed PCOS machines failing to read the votes for local candidates. The results of machine counts did not tally with manual counts.
Orteza, however, pointed out that more than 3 million voters may be affected by the delayed delivery of the CF cards, especially those in far-flung areas.
“This is a big problem brought about by the lack of readiness and sheer incompetence of the Comelec and Smartmatic. An ill-prepared automated election is a well-prepared failure of elections. Even if Comelec can show that the machines work properly during the tests, the people’s trust in Comelec is greatly diminished. We should be vigilant and be prepared to spring into action in the likely event of massive fraud and even widespread failure of elections,” Orteza said.
The Pagbabago! leader added that Comelec officials, Smartmatic and Mrs. Arroyo herself are accountable for the failure to conduct a truly credible automated elections.
“Fears of a hold-over Arroyo government are not totally unfounded. Mrs. Gloria Arroyo stands to benefit from a problematic automation, or even a full reversal to manual elections at this point”, argued Orteza. (Bulatlat.com)
Arnold Padilla, Secretariat/Public Information Office