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Comelec assures it will be ready for the polls despite hitches

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Palacio del Gobernador COMELEC
PHILSTAR

THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) said that despite some mishaps surrounding the preparations in the days before the May 13 elections, it will be able to address them on time.

On Friday, the Poll Body’s spokesperson James B. Jimenez said that recent reports of corrupted SD Cards which will be used in the automated election system (AES) should not worry anyone. He announced at a 6 p.m. briefing that there are 686 corrupted SD cards.

He added that when an SD Card is corrupted, “We respond by having replacement cards. This will be swapped with the corrupted SD Cards… so we do not issue out new SD cards unless we have the corrupted SD Cards.”

The Comelec has 85,769 back up SD Cards ready for scenarios like this. Mr. Jimenez said that a few days before the elections will allow them time to address the issue.

The Comelec spokesperson also reported that the poll body’s online precinct finder should also be available by Monday. It is currently working with the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) on issues over the precinct finder being unavailable to many voters.

“This was relayed to the DICT. They’re the ones who are doing the program. I’ve been told it’s been remedied so we’re undergoing testing again… later on, we will release the official link of the precinct finder,” said Mr. Jimenez.




In another election related development, the Comelec has also mapped out its plans for the Random Manual Audit (RMA) that it will be conducting after the May 13 elections. The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) developed an Automated Random Selection program for the random determination of municipalities/cities and clustered precincts which will participate in the RMA.

The votes that will be audited are those for Senator, Mayor, and House of representative (HOR) district members. The RMA will start on May 15.

“This is just auditing how the machines will perform. This has nothing to do with specific positions… we will only look at three positions,” said Comelec Commissioner Luie Tito F. Guia.

The Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE) has been appointed as the lead convenor for the RMAs, replacing fellow election watchdog group National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) after it declined its accreditation as the Comelec’s RMA lead convenor. This after the Comelec declined to grant Namfrel access to election data without which, the watchdog group said, “diminishes the verifiability of data separately provided during the RMA.”

Meanwhile, former journalist the Rodrigo “Jiggy” D. Manicad, Jr., who is running for the Senate as an independent, filed a motion for the Comelec to allow watchers from political parties to monitor back up vote counting machines (VCMs) against possible vote rigging.

“Kailangan magpreserve ang integrity ng elections (We need to preserve the integrity of the elections),” he said to reporters as he filed an Urgent Ex-Parte Motion before the Comelec on Friday.

The Motion called for the Poll Body to allow poll watchers of not only Mr. Manicad’s party but also other political parties “to witness an inspection of, testing and sealing of and to monitor the Reserve Machines, on May 13, if they will be utilized for the elections, and to monitor the said machines until the final completion of the counting of votes.”

The Reserve Machines are only utilized in case the VCMs being used break down or fail to operate during the elections.

Despite there only being a few days left before the elections, Mr. Manicad said that this Motion is for the interest of everyone and can be used as a “precedent” to future elections.

The senatorial hopeful also said in his Motion that the Comelec should create “an inventory of all the Reserve Machines, and to disclose the locations of all the Reserve Machines” to watchers to ensure that the machines are not used during the elections unless needed.— Gillian M. Cortez

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