MANILA, Philippines?A university of the Philippines (UP) think-tank which monitored the May 2010 elections has cast doubt on the ability of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to hold another automated polling given the way the agency managed the exercise.
The Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG), in its final report on the May 10, 2010, automated national and local elections that was obtained by the Inquirer, cited the lack of transparency, critical management failures and the non-protection of the sanctity of the ballot as among the reasons for debunking the Comelec?s claim that the automated election system (AES) was ?a resounding success.?
The 480-page report, completed with the support of the European Union and local partners such as the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, Coordinating Council for People?s Development and Governance, Computer Professionals Union, Health Alliance for Democracy, and National Union of People?s Lawyers, was submitted to Congress last month.
CenPEG joined the call of prominent figures such as former Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban for reforms in the Comelec, including a review of the voting technology and the multibillion-peso AES contract that was awarded to Smartmatic before the 2013 midterm polls 17 months from now.
?What summons all Filipinos now?especially the Filipino information technology community?is to demand the full disclosure of all election information. This is to complete the citizens? unfinished task of conducting their own appraisal of the first automated election and for the whole country to become better prepared for the next election,? CenPEG said.
The group is currently embroiled with the Comelec on the implementation of the Supreme Court?s decision dated Sept. 21, 2010, which ordered the poll body to disclose the AES source code, referring to the series of software programs that operated the 80,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines leased by Smartmatic for the May 10 elections.
The Comelec had said it was open to a review of the source code subject to certain conditions; while Smartmatic had admitted that it did not have proprietary rights over the code.
CenPEG said Comelec?s failure to be transparent in other areas, such as the contents of the contract with Smartmatic, the transmission data and other documents ?left the voter unaware of the implications of the system on his/her rights.?