Lawmakers want return to manual voting

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Monday, March 10, 2014

THE House independent minority bloc on Monday called for the return to manual voting amid several reported glitches the Precinct Count Optical Scanner (PCOS) machines encountered during the 2010 and 2013 polls.

Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez said that their group will call for an immediate House investigation into the discovery of vertical lines on ballots used in last year's mid-term elections.

Romualdez said that they are deeply alarmed in the so-called "vertical lines" that may have altered the actual results of the last year's election, as indicated in an inspection report by experts from the private sector.


"The Commission on Election (Comelec) must explain what were the smudges? What caused them and the lines, and what is the people's guarantee that these did not alter or cheat the candidates out of the true results of the polls?" Romualdez said.

He added that he will push for an immediate House inquiry to determine if the PCOS machines are still credible and safe to use in the 2016 polls.

Meanwhile, Buhay Party-list Representative Lito Atienza called on fellow legislators to support the pending measure, which will bring back manual system of voting but backed with electronic transmission for faster and reliable results.

The former Manila mayor said the problem with last year's election is similar to the glitches he has previously encountered during the 2010 polls wherein he lost by huge margin against his fierce rival, former mayor Alfredo Lim.

"It's really 'worry-some' what was found out in the 2013 elections happened already in the 2010 elections and I’m one of the prime witnesses to this and [also one of the] victims of that. Ang nangyaring eleksyon sa 2010, ay marred by strange markings on the ballots, [also] on the CF cards and also on the different dates of election in our election return," Atienza said.

The party-list legislator said that with an automated style of counting in the precinct level, "people are deprive" of their right in physically participating in the counting process since they don't have any proof that they actually voted during the process.

"Sabihin ninyo kung ano gusto niyo sabihin sa manual voting pero yun ang pinaka full proof manner of election. Yung electronic election don in 2010 and 2013 elections definitely is not full proof on manipulation and cheating," the lawmaker said.

He noted that though the measure tends to bring back the so-called "old style of voting," that doesn't mean that it will slow down the process since the automated process will still be used during the canvass and transmission of votes in the national level.

"Yung bilangan sa presinto, manual din. Sa blackboard, witnessed by the all barangay, In many countries they are still doing that, it's not primitive, it being done by everybody. But the transmission of the final return, it should be electronic. So overnight, nasa Manila na ang resulta ng buong Pilipinas, the next day alam na natin kung sino ang nanalo, so what's the rush to really remove peoples' participation in the voting and in the counting in the precinct," the former Manila Mayor explained.

He added that people shouldn't be deprived of the direct control of the process.

"We agree in the measure pending the committee that the election be held again manually but the transmission done electronically, that way the counting should be manual, sa presinto bilangan, witness by all," Atienza said.

The party-list lawmaker said the Random Manual Audit being done after the automated process is not reliable since like his previous case in Manila wherein the audit which was supposedly done on the night of the election itself was only made a month after the voting process.

"The random manual audit did not help any, because in Manila, they did not audit on election night, they finished the audit one month after. How can you audit anything? Even the cash register you can’t audit one month after the act. Kailangan yung mismong oras na iyon, and the law is very clear, the audit should have been done on the day itself, not one month after kaya we call for a congressional hearing on this," said the lawmaker. (Sunnex)

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