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Ombudsman asked to hold Comelec accountable for removing PCOS security features

A group on Friday asked Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales to immediately act on the complaints filed against the Commission on Elections for removing four security features of the  Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines amid fears of cheating in the 2016 elections.

Former Manila councilor Greco Belgica, head of Reform Philippines Coalition, and former Rep. Glenn Chong led the submission of the letter of appeal to Morales.

"Hinihiling po sana namin ang Ombudsman to act on this petition that has been with them for the last five years since 2010," Belgica told reporters. "Inupuan na po ito so dalawang eleksyon na ang nakalipas na hindi nabibilang ang boto ng tao, binibilang lang ang naka-program sa PCOS."

He was referring to the complaint-affidavit filed by civil society group Tanggulang Demokrasya and Bagumbayan-VNP Movement on July 3, 2013 against Comelec officials and officers of technology provider Smartmatic-TIM for "deliberate disablement of various technical and manual safeguards mandated by election laws."

Belgica was also referring to a complaint affidavit filed by Nelson Celis, president of Philippine Computer Society, on June 29, 2010 against Comelec, members of Technical Evaluation Committee, and Smartmatic TIM for "disabling of key security features as required by election laws."

The security features disabled were the digital signatures, soure code review, voter verified paper audit trail, and ballot verification using UV mark sensors.

Inside job?

Chong said he believes people within the Comelec are likely to spearhead the cheating in the 2016 national and local elections.

"Kumbinsido ako ang mandadaya hindi 'yung outsider, hindi operator, ang mandadaya dito 'yung sa Comelec mismo, nasa loob nila mismo. Binebenta nila ang posisyon.  Pera-pera lang naman yan, tanim-boto, isang malaking negosyo," he told reporters.

The group, in their letter, said the present Comelec under chairman Andres Bautista will also do the same.

"The deliberate and repeated disablement of the basic security safeguards of the automated election system cast very serious doubts on the legitimacy of the present national and local government administrations, as well, as conduct of any future elections," the two said in their letter.

They said the seeming impunity, by which those responsible for the disablement continue to enjoy, make the people feel "betrayed, frustrated, and desperate."

Appeal to Morales

“We now call and appeal to your good office to make a just and early resolution of the cited complaints, and thereby help prevent the further erosion of public confidence in our electoral system and our government by a growing segment of our society,” the two asked Morales.

“We trust that you will heed our appeal, not just for the sake of civil society groups who have taken it upon themselves to protect the sanctity of the ballot but more for the sake of the Filipino nation,” they added. —KBK, GMA News