Comelec chair offers to open any ballot box of Rio’s choice | Inquirer News

Comelec chair offers to open any ballot box of Rio’s choice

/ 05:10 AM October 18, 2023

City Treasurer's Office (CTO) personnel’s rush the cleaning of the ballot boxes for the Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) at Quezon City Hall compound in Quezon City on Tuesday (October 17, 2023). The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday reiterated the strict prohibitions for the upcoming Barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) campaign period, starting October 19 to 28. INQUIRER PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA

City Treasurer’s Office (CTO) workers rush the cleaning of the ballot boxes for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan Elections (BSKE) at Quezon City Hall compound in Quezon City on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. (Pholtr NINO JESUS ORBETA

MANILA, Philippines — Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair George Garcia has volunteered to open ballot boxes from the May 9, 2022, general elections to “settle once and for all” allegations that the votes on the ballots might not match the transmitted results.

The poll body head said he would even allow former Department of Information and Communications Technology chief Eliseo Rio Jr. and his fellow petitioners against automated election system provider Smartmatic to choose the polling precincts for the manual recount.


“We need a win-win solution. So to settle this once and for all, I will propose to the commission en banc a summary procedure,” Garcia told reporters after he and other election commissioners formally heard the petition to disqualify Smartmatic as a potential bidder for the new election technology to be used for the 2025 midterm elections.


“The petitioners will choose. We will open the ballot boxes. We can count the ballots one by one, and we’ll find out if they match the election returns. If they don’t match, then their accusation is correct. But if they match, it means the results are correct,” he said.

Garcia also offered to have Comelec shoulder the expense of the recount, which in typical electoral protests, is requested by concerned parties.

The recount may be done in November after the Oct. 30 barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections, according to Garcia, or before Comelec begins the procurement process for the new election system.

Best evidence

“The best evidence in an election [protest] is always the original ballot box,” said Garcia, adding that Comelec was prepared to “face the consequences” should the recount not match the official results.

On Tuesday, the Comelec commissioners sitting as a whole heard the petition filed by Rio, Augusto Lagman, Franklin Ysaac and Leonardo Odoño to disqualify Smartmatic as a bidder, citing “serious and grave irregularities in the transmission and receipt of election returns” in last year’s polls.

In a statement on Tuesday, Smartmatic said the accusations were “mere baseless speculations” and vouched for the “demonstrable 100-percent accuracy of the results of the 2022 elections.”


But the technology provider did not deny Rio’s point that a number of transmissions had come from a private IP address, echoing Comelec’s stance that this did not violate any law. INQ

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TAGS: 2022 elections, Commission on Elections, Eliseo Rio, George Garcia, Smartmatic

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