Brillantes hits solon over poll 'rumors'

MANILA, Philippines – Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr on Friday, November 16, slammed an opposition solon for spreading “rumors” on supposed problems with the printing of ballots for the 2013 polls.

In an interview with reporters, Brillantes criticized House Minority Leader Rep Danilo Suarez, who filed a resolution for the House of Representatives to investigate the alleged irregularities in ballot printing.

Brillantes said Suarez “is talking about rumors.” “Frankly, I don't think he knows what he's talking about,” he said.

In various interviews, Suarez has said the Comelec should handle the printing of ballots instead of the National Printing Office (NPO), which awarded the bid to the company Holy Family Printing Joint Venture.

“Take it from the NPO and let the Comelec be the one in charge just like what they've done in 2010. That was a surprise move for the minority. We would like to find out why did the Comelec decide to farm out the very heart of the election, which is the ballot, to be given to another agency,” Suarez said.

Concern over the printing of ballots rose after an initial test by the NPO. A Youtube video showed precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines rejecting 60% of sample ballots in September. (Watch more in the video below.)

But speaking on ANC, NPO bids and awards committee head Sylvia Banda earlier said the Youtube video “was already edited.” “They have only uploaded the video... that the ballot was jammed in the PCOS,” she said.

She added the first testing “was not actually part of the bidding,” but was for the NPO's own evaluation.

In 2013, she said, the NPO will not deliver to Comelec ballots “that will not pass the PCOS testing.” “Before the elections, what we will deliver to Comelec is 100% tested. Even in the 2010 elections, everything that was delivered to Comelec was tested in the PCOS,” Banda said.  

Election observers have warned that the printing of ballots is one of the key areas to watch for in the 2013 automated elections. Suarez, for one, has said the overprinting of ballots could lead to widespread fraud. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.

image