It is almost a month since the midterm election of May 13. The Commission on Elections (Comelec) is still silent on very valid questions about the conduct of that election. We seek answers. This is the right of the citizens and these calls should not be ignored.

1. Why is there a sizable increase in glitches in the Vote-Counting Machines (VCM) and SD cards this year compared to previous elections? After having used this same automated election system (AES) for three times since 2010, we expect this election to be more efficient, with less glitches, but the contrary has happened this year – 1,699 VCM suffered technical glitches and almost a thousand SD cards malfunctioned – compared with only 188 in the 2016 election.

2. Why was there a lull of more than seven hours in the transmission of results to the transparency server, the media and the watchdog groups? What happened in these hours? Unless this lull is properly explained the citizens cannot be faulted in doubting the reliability of this election. With automation, much could have been done in seven hours!

3. There is something new that was not part of the AES system in the last three elections. What is this “meet me room” set-up of Comelec? Why has it been kept secret and why its location is still kept secret? Is transparency not essential in the conduct of election?

4. In the previous elections the depository of receipts of the ballots cast were put in sealed steel election boxes, but this year they were just placed unsealed carton or plastic boxes. Why is this so? These receipts are important for verification of the election results and should also be protected.

5. There is a very huge number of votes invalidated because of over-voting – more than two million votes. Why did this huge number happen in this election? It is too simplistic to think that this is just due to voters’ mistake or carelessness, when in the previous elections this was not so.

6. There are so many reports of names of government candidates appearing in the receipts which the voters did not vote for. The huge number of complaints should not just be easily dismissed as hearsay. Explanations are needed why there are these many incidences.

Democracy thrives only when there is vigilance on the part of all. As citizens we are not silent; we ask for accountability from Comelec on these glaring defects. We cannot just say that we should now move. We cannot move on if there is no confidence in the conduct of elections because it casts doubts on the legibility of the “elected” officials. Truthful and credible explanations should be given to the people. This is especially needed when this government is perceived to thrive on the culture of impunity. If the complaints are not addressed, this adds up to this culture of impunity and Comelec would be sucked into it!

Broderick Pabillo
June 9, 2019