March 14, 2013
HON. SIXTO BRILLANTES
Commission on Elections
We write to you with a sense of urgency and frustration, as the May 13 elections draw ever nearer.
We join other election watchdog groups in expressing serious concern over the automated election system. The foreign-controlled and privatized AES has again shown problems during field tests and mock polls. There are major issues regarding the software to be used for the elections as well as the reliability of the PCOS machines themselves. Many of the problems cited by Kontra Daya in 2010 have not been fully addressed, including the accuracy of the count and the reliability of transmission of results. We are appalled that the matter of the source code review by interested parties is being treated as a subject of negotiations rather than an issue of strictly implementing the law.
With the many problems hounding the AES, we call on the Comelec to draw up contingency plans for manual counting in the event that the PCOS machines fail. We call on the Comelec to be ready for the worst case scenario as the preparations for the AES have exposed multiple vulnerabilities and problems.
On the Party-list system
As early as 2007, Kontra Daya had already embarked on a serious campaign to clean up the partylist system of groups that are neither marginalized nor underrepresented. Last year, the efforts of Kontra Daya and various stakeholders were undermined by Comelec because of its inconsistent basis in disqualifying some groups and accrediting others. Some groups identified with Malacanang, including those whose nominees are former government officials among their nominees, were even allowed to run in the partylist system. The situation was made even more untenable when the Supreme Court issued a status quo ante order in favor of disqualified partylist groups, thus allowing their names to be printed on the ballot. Both the Comelec and SC have made it again more difficult for legitimate groups of the marginalized and underrepresented to gain seats as they are now up against the partylist groups of the rich and powerful.
We find it strange that hearings on disqualification petitions against groups like Ako Bikol and An Waray have been scheduled only now, when these petitions for disqualification were filed last year. It is also strange that a similar petition to disqualify Palace-favorite Akbayan was not set for hearing. We call on the Comelec to immediately resolve all pending petitions regarding the accreditation of partylist groups. Also, we call on the Comelec to assert before the SC the need to resolve the pending petitions with the High Court before the May 13 elections.
As reported by the media, Kontra Daya has objected to the appointment of former Lanao congressman Macabangkit Lanto because of allegations of election fraud. We shall be closely monitoring the appointments for the two vacant positions of Comelec commissioner. The Comelec’s credibility took its most serious beating during the regime of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. It is quite sad that the present regime seems to not have learned any of the lessons from the past administration.
With all these developments, Kontra Daya’s call “Maghanda, Magbantay, Kumilos” has become more urgent and necessary. We shall continue to keep a close eye on the Comelec even as we prepare for the worst.