A multisectoral group of private sector leaders assembled today at the 24-hour prayer vigil and fasting AKKAPAKA site at Plaza Roma, Intramuros to ask for Comelec action to help improve the coming elections’ credibility.
Mano Alcuaz of the Management Association of the Philippines read the joint statement calling for a manual count signed by the Alyansa Agrikultura, the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines, the Makati Business Club and the Philippine Bar Association. He explained the need for this new move because of the May 3 failure of the PCOS machines and the recall of the 76,300 compact flash (CF) cards just a few days before elections.
Gus Lagman, TransparentElections.org chair, argued that the 100% manual count can still be done. He said that the voting summary forms can be printed in one day. He added that Bert Lina of Air 21 has offered to deliver the forms to all municipalities within one a half days free of charge. Where the forms are not delivered, the law allows the Board of Election Inspectors to make their own emergency forms, provided they sign the vote submissions. However, if Comelec refuses to do the total manual count, then the planned random manual audit must increase its sample size from 1.5% to at least 21% to make the audit credible.
Simeon Marcelo, Philippine Bar Council President, gave the legal basis for a 100% precinct count and audit for five identified elective positions, saying this would take only an extra three hours to conduct per precinct. He identified the penalties for electoral fraud and said he would personally file charges in court against any Comelec official guilty of this.
Ernesto Ordonez, Alyansa Agrikultlura chair, talked of the danger of the canvassing center posting only the center vote total (Certificate of Canvass-COC) and not the individual precinct counts (Statement of Votes-SOV) which make up the totals. The transparency to the public needed for both the COC and SOV through projectors or other means was agreed upon after a 5-hour dialogue with Comelec officials last April 16. But so far, this has not yet been included in the Comelec’s General Instructions (G.I.’s) for canvassing centers. If this is not done immediately, the resulting lack of transparency is a sure formula for dagdag-bawas.
Leaders from the mutisectoral group then proceeded to Comelec Chair Jose Melo’s office to present their recommendations for Comelec’s immediate action.