Comelec must explain to people, CBCP head says
A day after discrepancies in the random manual audit of ballots and the computerized tally were revealed, the president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on Wednesday urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to address seriously questions on the conduct of the May 13 polls.
“There are many valid points being raised because a lot of people thought the elections were OK. But it’s just like music,” said Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, the CBCP president.
“We all know that it was out of tune, which puts into question so many things,” he said in an interview with reporters.
Palma said the Comelec owed the people an explanation because it was their responsibility to conduct a credible and accurate balloting.
“It’s also their responsibility to provide answers to these questions from the people,” he added.
Palma suggested that it was time for the election body to evaluate the use of the controversial precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines with the next election just three years away.
“It is no longer about the defective PCOS against going manual. What we want are machines that are reliable,” said the prelate.
On Tuesday, Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. disclosed that initial findings of the random manual audit of the May 13 balloting showed discrepancies in some precincts compared with the computer-generated count.
These reports came from 167 out of the 234 randomly chosen precincts across the country.
Palma’s sentiments echoed the statement of the CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action (CBCP-Nassa) issued on Tuesday.
The group said it was one with civil society watchdogs in demanding accountability from the Comelec on its conduct of the nation’s second automated polling.
“We call on the responsible agencies for a thorough investigation of election irregularities and incidents reported, and challenge all the faithful and people of goodwill to break the culture of impunity,” said the CBCP-Nassa.
“Nassa is not blind to the glaring discrepancies and election violations, the highly suspicious interventions during the canvassing and the possible manipulation of election results during the lull hours of transmission, canvassing and consolidation of votes,” it said.
The group described the May 13 balloting as a “mockery of our democracy” amid reports of large-scale vote-buying, the malfunction of PCOS machines, corrupted compact flash or memory cards and transmission failures, among many others.
The nation’s two major telecommunications companies—Globe and Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co.-Smart—have rejected claims by Brillantes that they were responsible for transmission failures of balloting results. They said they did not experience problems during the balloting.
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