Too early to condemn Smartmatic, says lawyer
MANILA, Philippines — An election lawyer believes it is too premature for President Rodrigo Duterte to condemn poll technology provider Smartmatic International over the technical glitches that marred the recently concluded midterm elections.
Lawyer Romulo Macalintal said the President’s statement asking Comelec to “dispose of its vote-counting machines (VCMs) and look for technology that is free of fraud” practically accused Smartmatic’s VCMs of having committed “fraud” during the recent elections without any evidence or proof.
“While it is true that there were glitches experienced in the transparency servers, some VCMs malfunctioned and a great number of voter verification system (VVS) machines also malfunctioned. These are all technical defects which, unless proven otherwise, did not affect the results of the election or the votes credited to the candidates by the VCMs and their corresponding transmission to the various consolidated canvassing system of the different municipal, provincial and national boards of canvassers,” Macalintal said in a statement.
“If there were frauds or irregularities in the VCMs, then that would put to doubt the results of the election of almost the entire senatorial [candidates] of Duterte and other local candidates he endorsed who also won overwhelmingly,” he added.
Macalintal suggested that the President should wait for the outcome of certain election protest cases filed by some losing candidates in the last election where the ballots would be physically counted and compared with the VCM’s voting results.
However, citing the results of the random manual counting which showed that the VCM’s count was 99.9 percent, Macalintal said it appeared that the results of the 2019 elections were accurate and no electoral fraud was committed that compromised the integrity of these VCMs.
“What President Duterte should do is to remind or pressure Comelec to ask Smartmatic and other suppliers to compensate our government for damages for the hundreds of VCMs and VVS machines that malfunctioned, defective writing or shading pens, glitches in the transparency servers, and for all other technical problems that caused delays in the conduct of the 2019 elections,” Macalintal said.
“Comelec could have just pilot-tested these machines in a small municipality like Pateros where it would not have been very costly instead of pilot-testing it in so many provinces without any assurance of the VVS machines’ usefulness and accuracy,” he added.
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