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Rid country of “Fraudmatic” polls

Ninez Cacho-Olivares

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So what was that zarzuela Filipinos were treated by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioners in the so-called bidding of an automated election system (AES) when all along, Congress came up with a law, the Automation Election Law (AEL), giving Smartmatic control forever control with such a provision?

No official, no member of Congress in all that time — and there already have been four automated polls with all the signs of vote manipulation — came out to denounce this onerous provision in this election law.

About the only time this Comelec contract with Smartmatic controlling the AES — forever, it seemed — was questioned was when President Duterte publicly told the poll agency to “dispose of that Smartmatic and look for a new one that is free of fraud” after the midterm polls.

Now, finally, changes may come about, as one senator and a neophyte senator at that, has filed a bill ending not the automated polls but the provision in the law giving Smartmatic the control over the election system.

Neophyte Sen. Imee Marcos recently filed Senate Bill 221, which, if enacted into law and signed by the President, would put finis to that Smartmatic control through the provision in Republic Act 9369, or the AEL.

As Marcos put it: The provision sets a pre-condition before a provider can be considered by the Comelec.

“It narrowed the field of qualified service providers to Smartmatic alone and negated the entire purpose of setting other technical requirements in choosing an AES provider,” Marcos pointed out.

“Due to this provision, Comelec will not be able to choose another provider except Smartmatic. It’s included in the law on automated elections in our country,” she added.

The Senator stressed that amending the said provision would give other providers a chance to be chosen by the poll body and “pave the way for more transparent elections.”

The questioned provision can be found in Section 12 of the AEL requiring the automated election system provider should have “demonstrated the capability and had been successfully used in a prior electoral exercise here or abroad.”

Successfully used in a prior electoral here, in this country? When that law was enacted by Congress, it stood to reason that the country did not have any automated polls before the AEL was signed into law. Yet the law calls for an AES provider to have “successfully” used in a prior electoral exercise here, which was the time when the country first had its automated polls and with Smartmatic.

That proviso that says “here or abroad” really ensures that it is only Smartmatic that will always have the control of the AES in this country.

The Comelec commissioners, if they wanted Smartmatic’s control over the country’s AES, could have cut off Smartmatic early enough as even the United States and other Latin American countries already had publicly stated that these machines were not reliable.

Smartmatic, that is Venezuela based, also was in the thick of the Venezuelan elections, which may just have been the reason Maduro always wins the presidency.

Moreover, Comelec officials easily could have cut off Smartmatic from the bidding since it has been proven that the poll exercises held under its control, certainly were filled with automated fraud, and therefore proved not only unreliable but also were Smartmatic electoral failures.

Comelec never did. Instead, it came up with the zarzuela of bidding even when the poll body knew that there would be no other provider except Smartmatic.

But Sen. Imee should take her bill further. It is not only Smartmatic and its machines that are the problem, since the bigger problem is the existing Comelec cheating syndicate that has also been manipulating the automated votes, having learned a lot from the Smartmatic technicians.

Remember the reports on the Smartmatic officer and a Comelec staffer getting together to put together their passwords and fiddled with the main server on the weak excuse of coming up with a cosmetic change?

And didn’t this claimed “cosmetic change” cause the server to suddenly go off completely throughout the night which also caused the loss of millions of votes of then vice-presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and the sudden bonanza of millions to Leni Robredo?

But then, the President was an Aquino, and the losing candidate was a Marcos.

And didn’t this happen again in the 2019 senatorial elections with Smartmatic, still in control of the AES, when again, repeated was the same vote blackout throughout the dark night only to come up again with millions in the early morning?

It’s time to junk that automated law and time for Congress to pass another law that would allow, at the very least, hybrid polls, or better yet, the country should return to manual polls.

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