Several reports were sent to me earlier about alleged discrepancies in the reading by the PCOS machines where votes intended for Rody Duterte were credited to Mar Roxas in the recently concluded Overseas Voting.I did not give those reports much attention. I just instructed those who sent the messages to come up with documentary evidence to prove their claims.
But this story in Rappler today about a lawyer representing presidential candidate Duterte in Saranggani Province complaining that votes intended for Duterte during the final sealing and testing were credited for Roxas set off alarm bells.
I have always had my misgivings about the computerised elections using the PCOS machines mainly because of my sad experience losing the last two elections for Governor of North Cotabato when I was well ahead of the pre-election surveys.
I will not belabour the merits of the protests I filed in the 2010 and 2013 elections because these were all dismissed by the COMELEC. Besides, talking about them would be considered self-serving.
But there are just several cases in point which I would like to raise to support my position that computerized elections are not fool proof:
1. The Colombia Ballot Case – In the 2010 elections protest I filed with the COMELEC, it was discovered that in a precinct in Barangay Damalasak, Pikit, the PCOS machine churned out results of the Presidential Elections in Colombia, South America, in Spanish language.
This was brought up during the Senate Hearing chaired by Senator Koko Pimentel and all that then COMELEC Chairman Sixto Brilliants say was that it was an “isolated incident.”
That was the same explanation I heard from another COMELEC commissioner last week when he was confronted about reports of errors in the reading of the PCOS machines in the Overseas Voting.
So, how isolated is “isolated?”
2. The Angelito Sarmiento Case – Former Congressman Angelito Sarmiento ran for Mayor of his hometown in Bulacan in 2010.
When he attempted to insert his ballot into the PCOS machine, it was rejected three times thus he was unable to vote. This was exploited by his political opponents who spread the word that Sarmiento was a disenfranchised voter. He lost the elections.
His case reached the Court of Appeals and he was expecting a affordable decision when he suddenly succumbed to heart disease.
This case is simply outrageous for how could a dumb machine prevent a Filipino from exercising his right of suffrage and in the case of Sarmiento, to vote for himself?
Another highly questionable issue here is the involvement of a foreign corporation, in this case the Smartmatic which is a Venezuela, South America in the process of electing the President of the Philippines.
Many other countries which employed machines in the conduct of their elections have opted to revert back to manual voting.
It may take longer time to manually count but at least the watchers are able to see the counting, unlike in the computerized elections where the data are contained in a small CF card and only the computer could read.
There could be ballot box snatching but heck one cannot haul 100 ballot boxes at one time unlike the computerised voting where 20 CF cards containing thousands of votes could be placed in just one pocket.
The law which implemented automated elections in the country must really be reviewed or else we will always be sitting on needles and pins every time we elect our leaders because we are not sure what inside those computers.