Namfrel tells Comelec: Heed Duterte’s advice, dispose Smartmatic
MANILA, Philippines — The National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) has called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to heed President Rodrigo Duterte’s advice to “dispose” of Smartmatic, the provider of the vote counting machines (VCMs) for the country’s automated elections.
In a statement Friday, the poll watchdog noted that the conduct of the automated elections since 2010 was 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 group stressed.
This is after Duterte, in a speech before the Filipino community in Japan, asked the poll body to “dispose” Smartmatic and look for a technology provider “that is free of fraud.”
Smartmatic’s vote counting machines encountered glitches during the May 13 midterm elections, the Philippines’ fourth automated elections.
Namfrel said the President’s pronouncement will open up the opportunity to look for other election technologies, noting that under Republic Act No. 9369 or the Automated Election Law, it is prescribed that the automated election system (AES) “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,” the group said.
Namfrel also called for the amendment of RA 9369 to open up opportunities for local technology providers to supply locally developed election solutions.
“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 said.
The poll watchdog then called 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 technology solution.
In a press briefing Friday, Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said the poll body will look into the President’s proposal. (Editor: Julie Espinosa)
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