1,000 SD cards didn't work in May 13 polls – Comelec

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) said around 1,000 SD cards malfunctioned during the elections on Monday, May 13, as a poll commissioner blamed a new supplier for these "cheap" SD cards.

In the 2016 elections, only 120 SD cards didn't work, Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said.

Guanzon explained in a GMA News interview that the supplier of these SD cards is "new."

In the past, when the Comelec just rented vote-counting machines (VCMs) from Smartmatic, she said election paraphernalia such as SD cards were "bundled" with the Smartmatic deal. The bundle would include items such as marking pens and SD cards – "isang supplier lang" (there was just one supplier).

"Eh ngayon po na-unbundle ang bidding so iba ang supplier ng SD cards, iba ang supplier ng marking pens," Guanzon said. (Now the bidding has been unbundled, so there's a different supplier of SD cards, a different supplier of marking pens.)

The poll commissioner said she "will personally object to full payment" to the supplier of the defective SD cards.

Guanzon, a former commissioner of the Commission on Audit, then commented that the "lowest bidder rule" is not always good. She suspects that during the bidding process, the supplier presented high-quality SD cards, but the supplier cut its costs and provided "cheap" SD cards because it offered the lowest bid anyway.

Saying this was her personal opinion, Guanzon remarked: "So sa mga madlang people po, lagi 'nyo kaming sinisingil sa Comelec na ang laki-laki ng gastos namin. Ayan, lowest bidder, cheap din."

(So to the public, you always ask Comelec about our huge expenses. There, it's the lowest bidder, so it's cheap.)

That 1,000 SD cards didn't work is on top of the 450 VCMs that had to be replaced on Election Day. Other problems include the "technical issue" involving the Transparency Server that shows unofficial election results.

The National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections, an election watchdog, voiced concern not only about these machine malfunctions, but also about violence and voter disenfranchisement on Monday. – Rappler.com

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

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.

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