Comelec on uncertified poll system: Not our fault
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Saturday, April 30, said it should not be blamed if the automated election system has not yet been certified before Congress.
In a phone interview on Saturday morning, Comelec Commissioner Christian Lim said the certification is supposed to come from the independent Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) for the 2016 elections.
The TEC failed to meet the deadline to submit this to lawmakers, which was 3 months before the May 9 polls.
Former Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr said failing to submit this won't render the elections null and void. Still, the certification is supposed to boost public confidence in the automated polls.
Lim said, "Naiinis ako kasi you’re also kept in the dark." (I’m annoyed because you’re also kept in the dark.)
He added, "At the end of the day, siyempre, kakabahan ‘yung mga tao na, ano talagang findings sa automation, in light of all this noise." (At the end of the day, of course, people will be nervous as to the real findings on automation, in light of all this noise.)
Lim, the steering committee head for the May 9 polls, said he himself has a report on the automated election system from the international certifier SLI Global Solutions.
Lim said the TEC also has a copy of this report, and he has been advised not to publicize the SLI report until the TEC has released its certification.
For the 2013 elections, SLI had released a report that said there is no "intentionally malicious code" in the voting machines to be used. The TEC cited the SLI report in its certification on February 12, 2013, a day before the deadline.
TEC 'an independent body'
This year, Lim said, "We don’t have anything in writing from the TEC on why they can’t issue the certification."
He said he is meeting with the TEC on Saturday "because we want something in writing from TEC."
Former Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said that under the law, the TEC is supposed to certify that the automated election system "is operating properly, securely, and accurately."
He said the TEC is tasked to submit this certification to the joint congressional oversight committee (JCOC) on the automated elections.
The TEC certification should be based on the "documented results" of an audit on the voting system, a mock elections, and a source code review, among others.
The TEC is composed of representatives from the Comelec, the Commission on Information and Communications Technology, and the Department of Science and Technology.
Lim said the Comelec representative in TEC is Eden Bolo, while the TEC chairman is DOST’s Peter Banzon.
Lim recalled Banzon telling the JCOC that the TEC wants to finish the dry run on vote-counting machines, called the pre-logic and accuracy test (pre-LAT), before issuing a certification.
Lim said the pre-LAT was finished on Friday, April 29.
He added, "Ang sa amin lang, kahit na meron kaming representative sa TEC, we still respect it as an independent body. We cannot pressure or force them to do something na ayaw nilang gawin."
(As for us, even if we have a representative in the TEC, we still respect it as an independent body. We cannot pressure or force them to do something that they don’t want to do.)
Elections not 'null and void'
Lim, however, admitted that the Comelec failed to meet another deadline related to the TEC’s failure to certify the voting system before Congress.
He said that if the TEC fails to submit this document to the JCOC, the Comelec is supposed to explain to the JCOC why this certification is missing.
He said that "unfortunately, no letter/explanation by the chairman of Comelec was likewise submitted to the JCOC." He said the letter "is mandated to be submitted at least 30 days before election day."
Lim said he intends to send this letter on Tuesday, May 3.
In any case, Brillantes said that the lack of a TEC report "will not render the elections null and void."
Speaking to Rappler, Brillantes said, "Since hindi nagawa, anong gagawin mo do’n? Hindi itutuloy ang eleksyon dahil walang TEC report?" (Since it was not accomplished, what will you do with that? Will we not push through with the elections because there’s no TEC report?)
"Wala namang kasalanan ang tao," he added. (It’s not the people’s fault.)
He said critics can always run after the Comelec over this requirement after the May 9 elections.
For one, he said, they can file an administrative case against Comelec officials over certain deficiencies.
"Defects and deficiencies will always be encountered, and non-compliance of some mandatory requirements of the law will not render the entire process null and void," Brillantes said. – Rappler.com
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