COMELEC: Heed the President’s advice to junk Smartmatic
A press statement by the
National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL)
May 31, 2019
National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL) calls on
the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to heed President Rodrigo Roa
Duterte’s advise to “dispose” of Smartmatic.
NAMFREL has taken note that the conduct of the automated elections
since 2010 is not without the participation of Smartmatic, a foreign
company. The conduct of Philippine elections, automated or not,
should be left at the hands of Filipinos.
The President’s pronouncement opens up the opportunity to look for
other election technologies. It should be noted, however, that
Republic Act No. 9369 (RA9369) or the Automated Election Law
prescribes that the automated election system “x x x must have
demonstrated capability and been successfully used in a prior
electoral exercise here or abroad.” This provision effectively
prevents local systems developers from participating in the
development and supply of an automated election system. RA9369 needs
to be revisited and amended to open up opportunities for local
technology providers to supply locally developed election solutions
that protects the secrecy of the ballot and ensures transparency of
the vote count.
NAMFREL has proposed going back to manual voting and counting.
NAMFREL clarifies that it does not mean going back to the old manual
vote counting process. The proposed process involves the following:
1) Manual voting using ballots with blank spaces per contest where
the voter writes the names of this choices and the ballot to be
dropped in a ballot box,
2) Computer assisted vote counting using laptops and LCD projectors
to publicly display the progress of the vote tally, thereby doing
away with the tally boards pasted on all four walls of school
classrooms that served as voting precincts.
3) Electronic generation of the election return based on the
computer assisted vote count followed by printing of the election
returns. The contents of the printed copy of the election returns
may be compared with its electronic counterpart displayed via LCD
4) Electronic transmission of election returns to the corresponding
city/municipal canvassing server, and
5) Automated canvassing and consolidation of election results
through the ladderized canvassing hierarchy.
It is high time that the Philippines’ IT talents are harnessed for
our elections. While our IT community works on the appropriate
responsive technology, interested stakeholders should push for the
law to be amended.
NAMFREL calls on election lawyers, IT experts, election reform
organizations, and other interested groups to come together and work
with the COMELEC to look for the appropriate responsive, election