Brillantes cries poll sabotageBy Jocelyn R. Uy
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—Exasperated with the “lies” supposedly circulated by some poll watchdog groups, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. on Monday said critics of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines were just out to sow public mistrust and sabotage the coming balloting.
In his Twitter account, Brillantes accused Automated Election System (AES) Watch and the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPeg) of spreading “falsehoods” with the ultimate aim to incapacitate the Comelec and prevent a successful balloting on May 13.
Brillantes was reacting to claims by the groups that the poll body was using “pirated technology” for the PCOS machines after Dominion Voting System terminated its licensing agreement with its former corporate partner, Smartmatic-TIM, in May last year.
“I’d like to answer the issue incessantly raised by CenPeg, AES Watch et al. that the PCOS software being used by the Comelec was pirated,” said Brillantes.
“Contrary to this lie, the Philippines is the legal and true owner of the PCOS machines, including the software installed therein. The purchase of the PCOS was made last March 30 while the cancellation of Smartmatic’s contract by Dominion happened on May 23,” he pointed out.
Brillantes said that under the law, contractual obligations acquired prior to a cancellation bind all parties, “in this case both Dominion and Smartmatic.”
“In other words, we became the legal owners of the machines and software even before the cancellation and we remain as such even after. This is a basic rule on contracts that our nonlawyer critics don’t care to understand or which their lawyers did not explain to them,” said Brillantes.
Last year, Smartmatic filed a case against Dominion in Florida for alleged breach of a licensing agreement and “tortuous” interference with Smartmatic’s business.
Smartmatic, the Comelec’s 2010 technology provider, also accused Dominion of withholding technology and services that had been licensed to them.
In their earlier deal, Dominion had previously allowed Smartmatic to use Dominion’s software to operate the voting machines and install pertinent upgrades to address glitches in the system.
“The continued assertion of falsehood by AES Watch, CenPeg et al. aims nothing but to sow public mistrust and sabotage the upcoming elections,” said Brillantes. “As we repeatedly reiterated to these people with whom we were meeting for the last three years, just help us make the 2013 elections successful.”
In a statement Monday, AES Watch raised concerns over how the Comelec was preparing for the May 13 elections since the same problems that attended the 2010 balloting still existed as observed during the recent mock elections.
Among these problems, it said, were ballot rejections, transmission failures, inaccuracy of the vote count, and election returns and certificates of canvass not digitally signed as required by law.
“Worse, knowing fully well that Dominion … terminated its license agreement with Smartmatic, the Comelec still insists on using an unlicensed, therefore pirated, technology. Its impact is serious and far-reaching as certification by an international certification entity continues to be denied,” said the group.
It also warned that Comelec officials would commit “potentially impeachable offenses” if the May 13 balloting were to fail.
“Is the repeated failure to comply with the automation law and the fixation to use the defective Smartmatic-provided system setting the stage for a possible election failure?” AES watch said.
“If this is so, the Comelec has nobody to blame but itself for what are potentially impeachable offenses. It should stop pointing fingers at the usual suspected culprits like the teachers, poll watchdogs and the voters themselves,” it said.