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Ombudsman urged to act on pending cases vs Comelec execs

By: - Reporter / @JeromeAningINQ
/ 01:27 AM December 16, 2015

AN ELECTION watchdog on Tuesday called on the Office of the Ombudsman to quickly resolve the cases filed against current and former officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for allegedly compromising the country’s automated polls.

At a press conference in Manila, conveners of the Reform Philippines Coalition (RPC) lamented that the Ombudsman had yet to act on and resolve the complaints against officials of the Comelec and its automated service provider, Smartmatic-TIM Corp., filed by civil society groups Tanggulang Demokrasya (TanDem) and the Bagumbayan-Volunteers for a New Philippines way back in July 2013.

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The Comelec and Smartmatic officials were accused of violating provisions of the two automated election systems (AES) laws—Republic Act Nos. 8436 and 9369—as well the Omnibus Election Code when they allegedly refused to allow Bagumbayan from reviewing the source code and for removing the digital signatures and voter verified paper audit trail requirements.

RPC chair and independent senatorial candidate Greco Belgica said that with the elections only less than six months away, a quick action by the Ombudsman could help in securing the democratic exercise from electronic cheating.

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“We maintain that the deliberate and repeated disablement of the basic security safeguards of the AES is highly suspicious and can undoubtedly open the floodgates to massive automated fraud which cast serious doubts on the very legitimacy of the elected government,” Belgica said.

Named respondents in the complaint were former Comelec chairs Sixto Brillantes Jr. and Jose Melo, incumbent commissioner Christian Robert Lim, and retired commissioners Nicodemo Ferrer, Armando Velasco, Lucenito Tagle, Elias Yusoph, Ma. Gracia Cielo Padaca, Rene Sarmiento and Gregorio Larrazabal.

Other respondents included Antonio Mugica, Cesar Flores, Jose Mari Antunez, Juan Villa Jr., Salvador Aque and Nilo Cruz, key officials of Smartmatic-TIM, the consortium that provided the Precinct Count Optical Scan machines in the 2010 and 2013 polls; and Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting chair Henrietta de Villa, who led the Comelec’s random manual audit of the election results.

In De Villa’s case, TanDem and Bagumbayan said the RMA group allegedly conspired to remove the randomness requirement of the manual audit and for giving the PCOS machine a passing mark when in fact they filed the required accuracy rate set by the AES laws.

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