MAY 6, 2013
DAVAO CITY – A clean and orderly May 13 elections is elusive should problems related to the country’s second poll automation remain unresolved as monitored in today’s Final Testing and Sealing (FTS) in the three districts here, says poll watchdog Kontra Daya.
UP Professor Aya Ragragio, convener of Kontra Daya – Mindanao, said her group is alarmed over a number of problems monitored ranging from the technical glitches of the PCOS machines to the unpreparedness of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) and their lack of technical support.
“We regret that the poor outcome of the FTS now would reflect the outcome of the actual polls, which could lead to election failure” said Agrario.
She added, “Our field monitors reported cases of PCOS machines unexpectedly shutting down, machines accepting wrongly-shaded ballots, memory cards that are not detected, and PCOS keys that are not functioning,” while referring to the documentation done by their volunteers deployed in Carlos Villa Abrille Elementary School, Kabacan Central Elementary School, SIR Elementary School and Magallanes Elementary School for district 1; Buhangin Central Elementary School for district 2; Calinan Central Elementary School and Marilog Central Elementary School for district 3.
“We do not only have problems with the machines. We also have problems with the preparedness of the BEIs and the technical support from Smartmatic-COMELEC,” added Ragragio.
The group reported the case of a BEI in Kabacan Central Elementary School who confessed she does not know how to attach the battery of the PCOS machine. The BEI said it was not part of their training.
In Magallanes Elementary School, a PCOS machine stopped working and the COMELEC-Smartmatic technician advised the BEI to remove the compact-flash card, a protocol that is not allowed while polls are not yet finished.
“We also monitored a case in Buhangin and also in Kabacan, Bucana where a BEI reads aloud the PIN code of the PCOS allowing everyone around to hear. These happened because, aside from the fact that the COMELEC neglected the proper training of BEIs. There were also no COMELEC personnel present in many areas. This is supposed to be the final dry-run of the actual polls on Monday next week,” stressed Ragragio.
The group also reported PCOS machines that were not properly sealed and ballot boxes that were not locked after the FTS.
Krista Melgarejo, the youth convener of Kontra Daya – SMR, said their group has long doubted the automated elections system (AES). She said her group is yet dissatisfied with the transparency of the system.
“We still have outstanding issues with the availability of the source code to be used and the security of the transmission. Now, we have other things to worry about. These only show that the COMELEC is much unprepared, yet very eager to pursue the AES even if it threatens the sanctity of the people’s votes,” said Melgarejo.
Kontra Daya also warned the men in uniform not to go near the polling precincts as there have been a number of them monitored near the polling centers in Calinan, District 3 in today’s FTS.
“The COMELEC should now work out on its contingency plans should the AES fails largely. If these glitches were observed here in the urban Davao, we fear that the worse could happen in the rural and remote areas” said Ragragio, referring especially to the Pablo-hit areas in the region where electricity supply is scarce and security issues are alarming.
With the lack of safeguards and transparency of the AES, Kontra Daya hopes that the system would not pose human rights violations.
“We are preparing to seek UN’s help in ensuring that the AES would not compromise the voters’ rights. We enjoin everyone to establish a good government that is responsive of our welfare by guard our votes. This time, we cannot trust the COMELEC to do this for us. Let us rise and be vigilant,” concluded Ragragio.
Prof. Aya Ragragio