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Senate to look into glitch in midterm polls

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PHILSTAR/MIGUEL ANTONIO DE GUZMAN

By Charmaine A. Tadalan , Reporter

THE Senate committee on electoral reforms and people’s participation will hold an oversight hearing on June 4 to look into technical issues that hounded Monday’s midterm elections.

Committee chairman and reelectionist Senator Aquilino L. Pimentel III, who currently places 10th in the ongoing election count, confirmed the scheduled hearing in a phone message, adding that his panel’s counterparts at the House of Representatives will also conduct their inquiry.

Senator Panfilo M. Lacson affirmed this in a phone message to reporters. “We have to conduct the inquiry as soon as we resume our session,” he said.

Mr. Lacson also said he will take up, among other things, the glitch in the transparency server which led to a seven-hour delay in the transmission of election results on Monday night.

“Comelec has to address certain issues that I myself will raise — among which are: (1) why did they shift from a simultaneous transmission of data at the precinct level as practiced before(,) to a transparency server which…as we found out caused the stoppage of the dissemination of data for some 7 hours,” Mr. Lacson said.




He added: “(2) who controls the transparency server; (3) what is the purpose of the transparency server in the first place except to act as a traffic controller; and (4) why did they procure low quality SD (secure-digital memory) cards…etc.”

Initial results transmitted from the transparency server to media organizations and PPCRV (Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting) were posted at around 6:00 p.m. on Monday but did not change until 1:00 a.m.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel F. Zubiri said his colleagues will hold a caucus on Monday on this and other matters. “Meron kaming (We have a) Majority caucus on Monday at 12 to discuss important issues,” he told reporters in a phone message. “It would probably be discussed there.”

‘SUPPLIER SHOULD NOT BE PAID’
For her part, Commissioner Ma. Rowena Amelia V. Guanzon of the Commission on Elections told reporters on Wednesday: “This is my personal view, na itong supplier ng SD cards hindi namin babayaran ng buo at ipapasuri ko ‘yan ‘yung proseso sa pag bidding at saka pag deliver nila ng cards kasi ‘yan po talaga ‘yung naging culprit.” (This is my personal view, that this supplier (S1 Technologies Incorporated) of SD cards should not be paid by us in full and I will have this looked into, the bidding process and the delivery of the cards, because that is really the culprit).

As of Tuesday, 1,665 SD cards out of more than 55,000 used were reported defective, compared with the 120 memory cards reported defective in the 2016 general elections.

Comelec Chairman Sheriff A. Abas told reporters on Tuesday the poll body is reviewing its supply contracts to determine possible contract violations.

The PPCRV, for its part, said it wants to check the results in the central server received by the Comelec.

PPCRV Chairperson Myla C. Villanueva told reporters on Wednesday, “Gusto po namin makita ang central server data kasi ‘yung central server data i-ma-match namin sa transparency server data (We want to…match the central server data with the transparency server data). We wanted to make sure that it’s the same.”

“We want the count, all the results to match,” she added.

Ms. Villanueva said PPCRV has asked the Comelec for the “logs” after the transmission of votes in the transparency server to determine the cause of the glitch. “I will insist on the logs…It is right to wait. Ayaw natin guluhin ‘yung transparency server kasi tinatanggap pa ‘yung data (We do not want to disrupt the transparency server because data are still coming in). Pero (But) I don’t see any reason why we will not get it. I’m sure gusto rin nilang malaman kung ano ‘yung nangyari (I’m sure they also want to know what happened), but definitely we want to know. It’s a way of auditing.”

Regarding the Comelec’s agreement with the National Printing Office (NPO), over the printing of voter information sheets in which NPO reportedly tapped the Holy Family Printing Corporation, Ms. Guanzon said, “That’s against COA (Commission on Audit) rules, ‘yang subcontracting. Kaya nga sila ang pinili namin para wala na kaming bidding.” (Subcontracting is against COA rules. That’s why they [NPO] were selected, so there’ll be no more bidding).

She said the Comelec spent P4 per voter information sheet or an estimated total of P200 million for the over 61 million printed. — with Gillian M. Cortez and Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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