Lagman accepts Brilliantes dare to bare PCOS failings
MANILA, Philippines–The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has formally asked former poll commissioner Augusto Lagman to explain his claim that the results of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines could easily be tampered with.
Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes said he sent Lagman a letter asking him to meet with the commission en banc and discuss how the poll results generated by the PCOS machines could be manipulated.
“I told him that it was his duty as a former Comelec commissioner to inform us how elections results could be easily tampered with. I told him to educate us so we could prepare for that in the 2016 elections since we will be using the same machines. We invited him to come and show us how his claim can be done,” said Brillantes.
Lagman, in a separate interview with reporters, said he accepted the challenge of Brillantes to prove his claim. But he said Brillantes should also invite a Smartmatic programmer.
“I accept the challenge on condition that a Smartmatic programmer who knows how to modify a PCOS computer program will also be there. What I’m saying is that the danger lies in internal tampering,” Lagman said.
Brilliantes and Lagman have been at odds since the latter was not reappointed as Comelec commissioner by President Aquino in March 2012.
“He was in the Comelec for 10 months, but he never mentioned this. He did say you can probably manipulate it but not easily. Now he is saying it is very easy and I dare him to show it to us,” Brilliantes said of Lagman.
Brillantes said Lagman’s claim during a radio interview last week that the PCOS-generated results could easily be tampered with prompted him to write his high school classmate a letter, stressing that such allegations cast serious doubts on the integrity of the elections.
Lagman has since rejoined poll watchdog groups in objecting to the continued use of the PCOS machines.
His latest tirade against Brillantes was over the poll body’s decision to tap Smartmatic to diagnose any problems with the PCOS machines without a public bidding.
Lagman said the new deal between Comelec and Smartmatic sounded like a “midnight deal,” pointing out that Brillantes was set to retire next month.
But Brillantes explained that the Comelec tapped Smartmatic for the PCOS diagnostics because, being the machines’ manufacturer, it was in the best position to determine if there were glitches in the equipment.
The Comelec added that it opted to contract directly with Smartmatic for the PCOS diagnostics because “time is of the essence” in the preparations for the 2016 elections.
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