What’s holding PH from having a smooth automated election?
Marje Pelayo • May 16, 2019 • 1116
MANILA, Philippines – It took the Philippines 18 years before it finally applied the automated election system (AES) in 2010, the time when Benigno Aquino III was named the country’s 15th President.
The plan to fully automate the electoral process was raised in 1992 by then Commission on Election (Comelec) Chairman Christian Monsod during the term of then President Fidel Ramos.
Speaking to UNTV News, Monsod explained that the main purpose of automation was to expedite the election process and to make the job easier for the Commission.
“The vision is really to have the returns faster. It’s two – accuracy and speed. Those are the two objectives,” Monsod said on Thursday (May 16).
In 1996, the election in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was declared a success.
It was then that the computerized election system in the country was pilot-tested using the technology provided by a U.S. company American Information System, Inc.
In December 1997, Republic Act 8436 or “An Act Authorizing the Commission on Elections to Use an Automated Election System in the May 11, 1998 National or Local Elections and in Subsequent National and Local Electoral Exercises, Providing Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes” was signed.
However, it was applied only to specific areas like Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and not to the entire Philippines.
During the term of former President Joseph Estrada, poll automation did not push through.
In 2004, the administration of then president Gloria Arroyo awarded the P1.3B poll automation contract to Mega Pacific E-Solutions but the Supreme Court (SC) nullified the contract due to irregularities in the bidding process. A complaint against then Comelec Commissioner Benjamin Abalos Sr., other commissioners and executives of the Mega Pacific E-Solutions was filed in relation to the contract but the case did not prosper due to lack of probable cause.
It was in 2008 that Smartmatic-Sahi Joint Ventures entered a contract with Comelec as the provider of the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Technology while the Active Business Solutions Inc. and Avante International provided the Optical Mark Reader (OMR) Technology.
The said technologies were applied in the ARMM elections that time but several glitches manifested.
In 2009, the contract for the 2010 presidential elections was awarded to Smartmatic-TIM, the same technology provided tapped in the succeeding polls in 2013, 2016, and this year 2019.
This preference to Smartmatic raised doubts and questions to the credibility of the election process.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III, for one, suggests that Smartmatic must be replaced by a different technology provider.
“Matagal na noong January pa (ay) sinasabi ko na yan. Ang problema noong nag-privilege speech ako (ay) nakapag-award na ang COMELEC. Remember, kasi napakadaming problema,” Sotto said.
(I have been reminding them, ever since January. But then when I gave my privilege speech, Comelec already awarded [the contract]. Remember, there were many problems before.)
The recently concluded 2019 midterm polls was not spared from glitches and problems as many SD cards appeared defective and more vote counting machines malfunctioned as compared to the election in 2016.
But the poll body argues that it is only Smartmatic that passes their bidding requirements aside from the company’s experiences in the previous elections.
Comelec added that this year, not all election materials were provided by a single supplier which, according to the agency, justifies why there were defective supplies.
“In 2016, bundled ang aming bidding…Ngayon iba ang supplier ng makina, iba ang supplier ng SD cards, iba rin ang supplier ng papel at marking pens so doon ang nakita naming problema hindi masyadong nagma-match,” argued Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas.
What the poll body is looking at this time is whether or not to still reuse the VCMs despite their service in the two consecutive elections. – (with details from Rey Pelayo) Marje Pelayo
The winless teams, PhilHealth Plus and GSIS Furies must defeat their opponents this coming Sunday as they are on the verge of early elimination being on the bottom two in their respective groups.
In the first game of the triple-header, GSIS Furies would have to breach the tough defense of Malacanang-PSC Kamao head-on.
It’s going to be a big task for the Rene Banzali and Roger Yap-led team to even demoralize their opponent because Coach Raffy Gonzales’ Kamao team has the perfect winning momentum; on the other hand they will come from two-straight sorry loses.
The battle between the President’s men and the government-worker insurers is slated at 2 pm at Pasig City Sports Center.
In the other game, PhilHealth Plus must triumph against the Ombudsman Graft Busters led by its big man tandem of Bernzon Franco and Samuel Ignacio and the reinforcement playing coach of Edsel del Rosario.
The Health Insurers and “Tanod Bayan” face off is scheduled at 3:30 in the afternoon.
And in the main card of UNTV Cup Sunday games, Judiciary Magis and NHA Builders are eager to get the win that will decide their ranking in Group B with both having a 1-1 record.
Judiciary comes from a victorious game against GSIS last September 29.
Coach Joey Yabut said, “Sabi ko sa mga players, kailangan nating manalo kasi kapag nadalawang sunod tayo, mahirap na tayo bumawi kasi tatlong malalakas pa yung kalaban natin.”
NHA Builders Coach Benett Palad says, “Kailangan naming manalo doon para pumasok kami sa taas … yung team ko kasi ngayon nagkakaroon na ng camaraderie at teamwork so mas gumaganda yung takbuhan. Konting konti na lang ang i-aadjust ko na mali nila.” — Bernard Dadis
Aside from NHA, the Magis is slated to face DENR and PNP.
While the NHA Builders are determined to bounce back from a disheartening loss from Malacanang-PSC Kamao two-weeks ago.
Nanay Teresita showed off her favorite dance moves on the newly renovated floor of their home in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan.
It was well-polished and better compared to their old floor.
Nanay Teresita, along with nine others, lives in one of the elderly homes of the Coalition of Services of the Elderly (COSE). COSE is one of the beneficiaries of top radio station Wish FM that received P100,000 cash grant.
Because of the cash grant, COSE was able to further provide a comfortable home for these lolas.
“Nagpapasalamat ako sa Dios na mayroong may mga mabuting puso na nagdo-donate dito, (I am thankful to God for the kindhearted people who donated this)” Lola Conchita Salas said.
COSE is a non-governmental organization that aims to keep older people involved in the community.—AAC (with reports from Ninya Armillo)
The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is expecting an influx of ‘last-minute’ registrants at the voter registration for the 2020 Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections.
Comelec will officially close the voter registration at 5:00 p.m. on Monday (September 30). Comelec Spokesperson Dir. James Jimenez said their office is prepared to handle the number of registrants.
“An influx of registrants is to be expected. The COMELEC has anticipated this, and we are confident that our employees in the field are prepared to handle the last-day registration scenario,” he said.
Based on Comelec Resolution 10549, Comelec will implement the following protocol for the last day of voter registration.
If there are still applicants lined up to register within the thirty (30) meter radius from the Office of the Election Officer (OEO) by 3:00 P.M. of September 30, 2019, their names will be promptly and consecutively listed down.
Each name will be announced repeatedly three (3) times in the order in which the applicants’ names were listed. Applicants who are not present when their names are called shall no longer be allowed to file their application.
When an applicant’s name is called and he/she is present, his/her application will be processed and his/her biometrics data will be captured. The process continues until all those listed shall have been processed.
An Express Lane is provided for Persons with Disabilities, Senior Citizens and Heavily Pregnant Applicants.
There are around 2.6 million registered voters in the country as of August 1 this year, according to Comelec’s data.—AAC
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