Comelec denies firing voting machine technicians

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Saturday, May 7, denied firing hundreds of vote-counting machine (VCM) technicians as alleged by the camp of Senator Grace Poe.

In a text message to Rappler, Comelec Spokesman James Jimenez said the report is "not true," and the poll body "didn’t fire any" VCM technician.

Karen Jimeno, voters' education head of technology provider Smartmatic, also said their company "has not fired any technicians."

She confirmed, however, that "some technicians were not hired" after failing tests.

Besides, Jimeno said, the VCMs had already been turned over to the Comelec.

She added that on election day, the VCMs will be operated not by technicians, but only by the Boards of Election Inspectors (BEIs) and election officers.

Technicians 'not hired'

To explain the issue, Jimeno quoted iPlus, "one of the subcontractors related to Smartmatic's VCM technicians."

"According to iPlus, they have not fired technicians. iPlus confirmed that some technicians were not hired, as they didn't pass all required tests," she said.

Poe's lawyer, George Garcia, earlier said their camp has "received complaints from a number of VCM technicians whose contracts were suddenly terminated by the poll body for unknown reasons."

Garcia said iPlus had trained these VCM technicians. 

Smartmatic has provided the Philippines' voting machines since 2010, when the country first held automated national elections.

Smartmatic critics say the company's VCMs can easily be tinkered with to rig election results.

But the Comelec has denied these claims, saying that VCMs undergo stringent tests, including a source code review that is open to information technology experts and political parties, among others. – Rappler.com

Paterno R. 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.

image