“It is just right that Congress, through its AES Oversight Committee, steps into the scene to provide timely recommendations and proposals to the COMELEC as to the issues hounding the PCOS machines.” – Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA — Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares called on the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on Automated Election System (JCOC-AES) to convene as soon as possible in the light of the continuing issues with the PCOS machines and with the elections just a few days away.
“It is just right that Congress, through its AES Oversight Committee, steps into the scene to provide timely recommendations and proposals to the COMELEC as to the issues hounding the PCOS machines. The standards for genuine elections must not only include freedom of choice but also secret voting, public counting, transparency and verifiability. Without a source code and its mandatory review, this cannot be achieved,” he said.
“Under the law, the oversight committee is the only body tasked with declaring whether an election was successful or not. It has to convene now in order to give it the necessary information to judge the results in light of many confusing statements from the COMELEC. It would also be easier to convene since it is composed of only seven members each from the Senate and the House of Representatives,” Rep. Colmenares added.
According to the Bayan Muna legislator, the mixed signals coming from COMELEC “are not only confusing but worrisome.” He said the COMELEC is painting a picture of control over the last leg of preparations for the May 13 elections when in reality, as shown by press reports, we have non-functioning PCOS machines in the recent final testing and sealing.
Colmenares urged the Comelec to welcome the well-meaning election watchdogs whom he said “are not out to destroy the credibility of the COMELEC” but are just as serious and honestly “concerned over the integrity of our elections.”
Election watchdogs such as the AESWatch and Kontra-Daya have been raising concerns related to whether the automated elections would be transparent, efficient and accurate since it was first tried out last national elections. An example is the Source Code. “There could not have been so much noise from our Filipino IT community if the 2010 Source Code was released much, much earlier, in the first place,” Colmenares said.
IT experts and election watchdogs have warned that without a source code review, “or worse, with installing only binary codes in the PCOS which is not reviewable or readable by humans, there will be an avalanche of election protests after the elections.”
Colmenares reiterated that the function of the Oversight Committee is to monitor and evaluate the implementation of RA 9369 or the AES Law. He said it is never too late for this, at this point of the campaign period, “because the integrity of our elections is at stake and we need all the support we can get to ensure a clean and honest Automated Elections in the nearing May 13 elections.”