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Comelec campaigns to remove doubts on automated elections

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Wednesday, August 15th, 2018

PASAY CITY, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) wants to employ concrete security features that will further protect the automation system of the 2019 midterm elections.

This is the priority of the agency cited by Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo during the Senate hearing at his confirmation by the Commission on Appointment (CA) on Wednesday (August 15).

Casquejo said they want to remove doubts on poll automation process cast by allegations of irregularities in the 2016 election that recently surfaced.

One of the measures that the poll body plans to impose would be the use of the board of election inspector’s digital signature to limit the number of persons transmitting the votes.

“That is to make sure the one transmitting from precinct level going to canvassing level would be the BEI itself who transmits the result because of the presence of the digital signature,” Casquejo said.

Comelec also plans to require additional details from voters which will appear in the voter’s receipt. Likewise, the agency will put QR codes in each official ballot to immediately identify its origin.

A public viewing of the source code review is also being considered. The source code serves as the blueprint of the vote counting machines and by opening the process to the public, defects and problems in functionalities of the machines will be easily identified.

The Comelec said that even without the controversial exposé of election fraud accuser Atty. Glenn Chong, the said measures are essential in an automated election.

“Nag-i-improve ang teknolohiya so every elections iyan, independently of the allegations of Mr Chong,” explained Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez.

Jimenez said the poll body is now scrutinizing the documents presented by Chong allegedly proving irregularities in the 2016 election.

“Kailangan ibangga yung dokumento niya duon sa alam natin na authentic na dokumento,” he concluded. – Nel Maribojoc / Marje Pelayo

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PNP records 6,000 violators as election gun ban ends tomorrow

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Tuesday, June 11th, 2019

Seized firearms from violators

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) gun ban will come to a close as the election period ends tomorrow, (June 12).

This gives way for gun owners to carry firearms outside of their homes as long as they have the permit to do so.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) has recorded more than six thousand violators of the gun ban since it was launched on January 13.

More than five thousand guns and close to fifty thousand deadly weapons were confiscated by the authorities.

PNP spokesperson PCol Bernard Banac said, “lahat ng mga ito ay nakalaboso at sinampahan ng kaukulang kaso. Doon naman sa mga pulis na lumabag ay meron po silang kinakaharap ngayon na kasong administratibo dahil sa paglabag sa ating mg alituntunin at patakaran [all of them were detained and were filed cases against. The police officers who violated (the gun ban), are now facing administrative cases for violating our rules and regulations].” (with details from Lea Ylagan) /mbmf

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Pimentel supports President Duterte on replacing Smartmatic

by Maris Federez   |   Posted on Saturday, June 1st, 2019

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III has expressed his support to President Rodrigo Duterte when he said he wants the Commission on Elections (Comelec) “to dispose of that Smartmatic and look for a new one that is free of fraud.”

Read: Duterte wants Smartmatic out of PH election

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms said he holds the same sentiment on the matter.

“I was thinking along the same lines. But we are only up to recommending to the Comelec,” Pimentel said.

Pimentel added that he had long been pushing for hybrid elections which was prompted by the investigation that his committee had conducted on the alleged cheating in the 2010 elections that used the Smartmatic system. (with details from Nel Maribojoc) /mbmf

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Duterte wants Smartmatic out of PH election

by Marje Pelayo   |   Posted on Friday, May 31st, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte wants the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to find another service provider for the automated elections.

“I would like to advise Comelec now — hindi ko na lang hintayin — dispose of that Smartmatic and look for a new one that is free of fraud,” the President said during his meeting with the Filipino community in Japan on Thursday (May 30).

The poll body, for its part, welcomes the President’s preference for a different firm other than the controversy-stricken technology solutions firm Smartmatic.

“Malinaw naman siguro sa sinabi niya iyon pero malinaw din na hindi niya itinatakuwil ang ating automated system kundi lamang iyong supplier,” Comelec Spokesperon Director James Jimenez said.

(What he [Duterte] said was clear. He is not denouncing the automated system but only the supplier.)

However, the poll body maintained that they cannot just breach their contract and impose a ban on Smartmatic without any strong evidence.

“Kakailanganin natin ng legal basis to ban any supplier so iyon ang titignan natin,” Jimenez said emphasizing that it was Smartmatic that won the contract to handle the needs of the 2019 midterm polls.

(We will need a legal basis to ban any supplier and that is what we are contemplating.)

Aside from Smartmatic’s existing contract, additional funds will also be a concern but still, it is always possible to search for another service provider.

“Dumadaan tayo sa pubic bidding so there’s always a chance for that and the bidding schedules are designed to accommodate a new supplier,” he explained further.

Malacañang, meanwhile, was also quick to clarify the President’s statement saying he (Duterte) did not mean to give the impression that the recently concluded election was not honest nor credible.

“It is,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said referring to the credibility of the 2019 midterm polls.

Panelo explained that President Duterte was just responding to some concerns raised by both the opposition on certain technical glitches that raised questions on the technological competence of Smartmatic.

“The President wants that the future elections will not be subjected to the same aforementioned concerns,” Panelo said.

Panelo calls on Comelec to take President Duterte’s suggestion ‘seriously’ emphasizing that the poll body “should be the first one that should be fiercely protective of its image being the constitutional body mandated to safeguard the sanctity of the ballots.”

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