Smartmatic irritates lawmaker over time error

A MAKATI lawmaker, who championed the automated election system, flared up Thursday when the Smartmatic admitted that some Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines were not configured with the correct time.

House Committee of suffrage and electoral reforms chairman and Makati Representative Teddy Boy Locsin expressed vehement objection on the reason presented by Smartmatic following the resumption on the probe on alleged poll fraud.

“Your assurance was that voting that happens between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. will be reflected. I didn’t know that 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. could be moved to 10 p.m. Do you realize what a fool you’ve made of legislators who passed this law?” he asked.

Locsin could not help but curse when Smarmatic electoral systems manager Heiden Garcia reasoned out that the incident was “unforeseen.”

He reminded Smartmatic of earlier guaranteeing the public that even if fraud is committed it will be traceable, citing time within the PCOS machines was one of the assurances that all activities could be pinned down.

“We never said that fraud could not be committed, but you said that we could trace it, and now you tell me, that at ten in the evening you could do it and we would never know,” Locsin said to resounding claps.

Garcia defended that the error could be on the hardware, based on initial analysis, explaining, “If you take out the batteries, the bios would reset.”

He reasoned that the time is not relevant to the counting as the system does not look at the time it was sent but rather the “digital signature”, which identifies what precinct and PCOS machine the votes are transmitted from.

Defeated Manila mayoralty candidate Lito Atienza relayed his earlier complaint on the matter before the panel while Biliran Representative Glen Chong reported the same problem in three clustered precincts in his district.

Chong said one clustered precinct in Biliran opened polls on January 3, 8 p.m. but counted votes on May 11, 8 a.m., contrary to the May 10, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. official voting time, based on time stamps in election returns.

Another precinct opened polls at 12:56 a.m. of January 4 while one closed voting on May 10, 7:35 a.m. a few minutes after voting should have started.

Despite the incidents, Locsin still regarded the cases as isolated.

“I’m going to proceed as isolated until it keeps repeating itself,” he said.

Comelec chairman Jose Melo said he has proposed to the en banc to make a scan of election returns to see if there were further discrepancies in time and date.

“I don’t know what can be done now but we can look into it kung prevalent yan. Kung itong tao lang na ito ang nagrereklamo, baka isolated yan,” he said.

Other key concerns raised in the panel was the printing of election results in North Cotabato on thermal paper printed with Mastercard and Daylight Visa logos and the case of the 60 PCOS machines found in Antipolo.

Defeated North Cotabato gubernatorial bet and current Vice Governor Manny Piñol, who lost by 16,000 votes, said that apart from the thermal paper concern, he has proof that board of election inspectors in the area fed pre-shaded ballots into the PCOS. (Angela Casauay/Sunnex)


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