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Bacolod City, Philippines Thursday, March 8, 2018
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Comelec won’t cover up
for poll fraud – Guanzon


Commissioner Rowena Guanzon of the Commission on Elections yesterday assured the public that the poll body will not cover for employees who may be involved in alleged fraud in the 2016 elections.

Guanzon, who was in Negros Occidental for a “#KEBS: Know your Elections BetterSeminar at the Carlos Hilado Memorial State College in Talisay City, was reacting to the expose of Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III Tuesday on the alleged fraud in the automated balloting system during the May 2016 elections.

“If the senators are saying there was fraud, we would like to know the details of these reports so we can take our people to tasks,” she said, adding that if people are found guilty they must go to jail.

“We want to assure the public that we do not cover for our people… it is important that we have fair, honest, credible elections,” she said.

Senators Panfilo Lacson, Grace Poe and Juan Miguel Zubiri got zero votes in hundreds of polling precincts in the May 2016 elections because of alleged fraud in the automated balloting, Sotto said in a privilege speech Tuesday.

The commission en banc inits regular meeting Tuesday talked about the Sotto’s pronouncements, and welcome an investigation to know the truth, Guanzon said.

She said they would like to see the data of the senators so action can be taken.

The vote counting machine is very efficient, it will just count the ballot that is fed to it and then it will tally and transmit the results, she said, but she would worry about zero votes if there was a statistical improbability.

“If Congress wants to change the law, if they think that the automated system is tamperable and has resulted to massive fraud then there is always an alternative - they can always pass a law reverting to a manual count with maybe just an automated transmission of results,” she said.

“That’s possible and that’s where I think the senators are going . I personally would like to explore that also,” she said.

In some countries they declared the use of machines unconstitutional or illegal because, for the citizens it is not transparent as they do not see their votes actually being counted, she said.

The Philippine Congress, on the other hand, passeda law to use machines to address the problem of massive fraud under the manual count, she said.

In his speech, Sotto also asked the Senate to investigate two allegations raised by his source - votes were transmitted a day before the May 9, 2016, balloting and that the election servers were accessed by a foreign party.

Guanzon said the server would know if it accepted transmission the day before which should be is impossible because the server is closed, it is only opened when the voting is over.

The Comelec commissioners will be the happiest people in the world if there is evidence that that was done because they are always finding ways to improve the system, she said.

On the election servers having been accessed by a foreign party, Guanzon said perhaps Sotto was referring to Marlon Garcia, the Smartmatic technical support team head who is from Venezuela.

The Department of Justice has accusedhim for changing the script in the servers in the middle of the 2016 polls’ results transmission.

She said she was the first to say in the Comelec en banc that the matter should be investigated but former COMELEC chair Andres Bautista saidit was just cosmetic, nothing happened.

Guanzon pointed out that the Department of Justice ordered the filing of criminal charges against Smartmatic for that.

“We should tell Smartmaticto produce Garcia at the DOJ because I think he is not in the country”, she said.*CPG


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