MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Wednesday said they would try to cope with whatever deficiencies they have to make sure this year’s elections will be ‘‘better enhanced.’’
Brillantes was reacting to the pastoral letter prepared by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) and read on Tuesday that warned against possible “wholesale cheating’’ unless the automated elections system is fixed.
“If not properly addressed, the present automated election system can lead to wholesale cheating. The integrity of a pillar of our democracy—the election—is at stake,” the pastoral letter read.
“We call upon the Comelec to adequately address the issues and respond, place corrective measures if necessary, to the studies of technical experts to the alleged deficiencies of the present system and technology of automated elections. There can be no transparency in elections if the Comelec itself is not transparent,” CBCP added.
Brillantes told reporters during the opening of the new printing facility of the National Printing Office (NPO) on Wednesday that he has not yet personally read the CBCP statement but that they will respect the bishops’ opinion.
“I will have to read their statement first, I don’t know. But whatever the opinion of the bishops are, we will respect [it] and we will try to cope with whatever they think [are our] deficiencies,” Brillantes said.
When asked if there was sufficient basis in the fears of the CBCP on poll cheating, he said that “we also used (Precinct Count Optical Scan) PCOS machines in 2010 and there wasn’t any wholesale fraud. We’re using exactly the same machines that are improved a little bit, so I think it should be a better enhanced elections.”
Comelec’s decision to use the PCOS machines of Smartmatic has been criticized by several groups allegedly because of several problems that came up in the 2010 elections such as the non-issuance of voter verification receipts and the removal of the ultraviolet security mark on the ballots.
The source code, or the basic computer language, of the PCOS machines has also been repeatedly asked to be reviewed by election watchdogs and technical experts.