Commission on Election (Comelec) chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Tuesday lashed out at critics of the automated election system, taking particular aim at his erstwhile colleague former Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman.
Brillantes said Lagman and others pushing for an “open system,” (manual balloting combined with automated transmission and canvassing of elections results), “do not know what they are talking about.”
“Do they know the meaning of an open system? It’s easy to say that because those who are saying that do not understand elections. Maybe they have a business (interest) with (a) manual (system),” Brillantes said in an interview.
“If we go back to manual…there will be chaos about the elections returns because there would be preproclamation controversies. Lawyers will object and object—that was my job before—so the canvassing will not proceed. It will not be finished,” he added.
Initially, Brillantes did not name Lagman, a recognized IT (information technology) expert, in his tirade. He also said that the Comelec had already spent P1.8 billion to buy the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.
“I feel bad when a former commissioner of the Comelec does the attacking. Those who are experts on automation are insisting on manual. I can’t understand that—an IT expert who wants to go manual,” Brillantes said.
Eventually, the Comelec chairman named Lagman as a main target of his tirade.
“It would be better if I’m clear that I’m talking about Commissioner Gus Lagman. Why is he insisting on manual when he does not understand the process (under a manual system)?” Brillantes said.
“Maybe he should visit us here. We really love you. Visit us here and we will all explain it. Don’t give out statements when you do not understand what is happening here,” he said.
“Don’t give statements about legal (issues). When it comes to the (legal issues regarding the fight between) Smartmatic and Dominion, I know a little more than you because I’m a lawyer. When it comes to IT, I won’t say I’m better than you but when it comes to legal, they should not go into that,” he added.
Last week, Lagman warned the Comelec that it could not use the previous certifications for the source code that would be used by the PCOS machines.
“You need to recertify it,” Lagman had said, adding that if Comelec used it without it being recertified, it would be violating the law.
Under the law, the source code or program to be used by the PCOS machines should be certified by a third party of computer experts.
The Comelec had designated the firm SLI Global to review the source code but its certification, according to Lagman, could not be released because Smartmatic had a falling out with its erstwhile corporate partner Dominion Voting System, whose approval is needed before the code could be released.
Lagman said that even if no enhancements were made, the Comelec still could not use the old software because its license had already expired.