Comelec says 400-600 vote-counting machines replaced

Paterno Esmaquel II
Comelec says 400-600 vote-counting machines replaced
(3rd UPDATE) 'Its larger than what we saw in 2016, and therefore it is a bit jarring,' says Commission on Elections Spokesman James Jimenez

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Commission on Elections (Comelec) Spokesman James Jimenez said 400 to 600 vote-counting machines (VCMs) had to be replaced as of 2 pm on Monday, May 13, topping the figures from the previous elections.

In the 2016 elections, around 188 VCMs had to be replaced, according to technology provider Smartmatic.

“I don’t have a tally of the areas specifically but the estimate, as of now, pegs it about 400 to 600 incidents of machines having to be replaced,” said Jimenez in an ANC interview Monday.

“It seems to me that perhaps we are approaching that point where we have to say that we are seeing more problems now than we did before,” Jimenez also said.

Defective machines on Monday also affected prominent figures, such as former vice president Jejomar Binay and senatorial candidate Grace Poe.

In a press conference at around 2:30 pm on Monday, Jimenez was asked why the number of replaced machines this year is up to 3 times more than those replaced in 2016.

Jimenez answered, “That’s a good question, and we will have to figure that out. But in order to figure that out, we’re going to have to have access to the machines that have been taken out of commission.”

Comelec’s responsibility

He said the public however should take into consideration the “scale of the problem” – that the Comelec has more than 85,000 VCM units, and the problematic ones were only 400 to 600.

“In the overall scheme of things, that’s still a very small number. But you are absolutely right, it’s larger than what we saw in 2016, and therefore it is a bit jarring. It is a bit surprising, and I understand how some people would feel that that is not the ideal situation, because well obviously it isn’t,” Jimenez said. 

“We will look into that, and we will keep you apprised of our investigation,” he added.

Jimenez was also asked if Smartmatic should still be blamed for the defective machines, given that Comelec already purchased the VCMs from them.

Jimenez said, “It’s the Comelec that’s always responsible. No matter what elections, no matter who our partners are, the buck ultimately stops with the Comelec.”

PPCRV

In an interview with Rappler, PPCRV media director Agnes Gervacio said the group also received similar reports highlighting the malfunctioning of vote counting machines in several areas.

Gervacio said the group received at least 60 reports on the machines so far. Despite this, she said the PPCRV did not consider it an “issue of concern” yet as voting was still able to take place.

“As of this time, we don’t consider it an issue of concern yet. We hope that won’t change,” Gervacio said.

The voting period will last until 6 pm. – with reports from Sofia Tomacruz/Rappler.com

Follow Rappler’s full coverage of the 2019 Philippine elections here.

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.