Critics to SC: Junk Comelec ‘spending splurge’

MANILA, Philippines – Critics of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Monday, September 14, requested the Supreme Court (SC) to strike down the poll body’s recent “spending splurge” over vote-counting machines.

In a 41-page petition, Francisco Aguilar Jr and Guillermo Santos said the SC should nullify Comelec Resolution 9980. 

In Resolution 9980, the poll body unanimously approved the lease of 93,000 voting machines, called optical mark readers (OMRs), from Smartmatic. At the same time, it decided not to reuse its old precinct count optical scan (PCOS) vote-counting machines in 2016.

"The Comelec, in leaving the 81,896 PCOS machines in the warehouse unmaintained and not refurbished to the gross disadvantage of the government, constitutes wastage of public resources or property, and thus a transgression of its fiscal responsibility," the petitioners told the SC. 

They also said the lease was illegal because it was not included in the Comelec’s annual procurement plan, as required by law. 

“It is thus unnecessary for the latter to opt to lease 93,977 OMR to the detriment of the government and the petitioners. This is an act of spending splurge of the Commission which must be stopped by the Honorable Court," Aguilar and Santos said. 

Aguilar and Santos added that while hearing this petition, the SC should issue a temporary restraining order against Resolution 9980.

Previously, Comelec critics already filed at least 3 other petitions against the poll body’s efforts to ensure automated elections.

Several election watchdogs have pushed for a semi-automated process instead of a fully automated system in 2016. They claim the automated system manufactured by Smartmatic can be easily rigged. – with reports from Paterno Esmaquel II/Rappler.com