May 9, 2016
Reference: Atty. Jonjon Montemayor
We have been receiving reports, both from news organizations as well as from our own watchers of malfunctioning VCMs. These malfunctioning VCMs result in the BEI asking the voters to leave with them the filled-up but unread ballots and in some cases – voters being reportedly asked to sign waivers if they choose to leave with them the unread ballots.
These practices are contrary to the spirit of a clean, orderly and credible elections, i.e. to enfranchise all voters and to preclude fraud.
It bears emphasizing that all these VCM malfunctions are in the first place a result of COMELEC’s non-compliance with the provision of RA 9369 (AES Law). Section 11 of RA 9369 requires that the Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) of the AES “shall certify, through an international certification entity…. not later than three (3) months before the date of the electoral exercise, categorically stating that the AES, including its hardware and software, is operating properly, securely, and accurately,…..”
While the TEC announced that they were able to secure a certification, it was only secured on April 30, 2016.
The belated and anomalous certification of the VCMs as to its proper, secure and accurate operation is leading to all sorts of problems that the VCMs are now experiencing, problems which the COMELEC should have foreseen and prepared for adequately.
Instead of providing a quick and reliable replacement for the malfunctioning VCMs as provided for by the COMELEC’s continuity plan under Resolution 10101, voters are now being asked to leave with the BEI their filled-up but unread ballot. This renders nugatory Sec. 40 of COMELEC Resolution 10057, as amended by Resolution No. 10088, which grants the voter the opportunity to verify his or her vote through a receipt, a requirement which the Supreme Court unanimously mandated the COMELEC to comply with.
This avoidable contingency makes the voting process all the more vulnerable to fraud and tampering. Worse, the inability of the COMELEC to timely provide replacement VCMs can result to the disenfranchisement of voters if the ballots are not read at all or the voters are forced to leave without even casting their vote because of the delays.
The COMELEC must do its job in this regard to replace the malfunctioning VCMs with dispatch and address the huge gaps brought about by its own inefficiency, if not negligence tantamount to complicity in what may possibly be a breakdown in the political exercise.###