Lagman: Why not manual polls in May 2013?

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 05 2013 06:35 PM | Updated as of Feb 06 2013 02:35 AM

MANILA - Former Elections Commissioner Augusto Lagman thinks the possibility of reverting to manual elections is real considering all the problems the poll body is facing in the run up to the May elections.

“To me, it’s real. With all the problems being encountered baka umabot sa point na wag na pwersahin. Kaya lang, sana ngayon pa lang magprepare na sila. Dapat may plano kung ano gagawIn pagbalik sa manual,” he told reporters.

The former poll commissioner said a return to manual elections is not exactly a bad idea as long as canvassing and transmission remain automated and electronic.

“Dapat balik sa manual and voting at precinct counting. If they decide to automate canvassing at electronic transmission, that would be the best…It’s not a danger. Going back to manual isn't a danger. Germany went back to manual kasi di transparent ang election,” he said.

Lagman said cheating happens at the canvassing level and not at the precinct level. He said the risk of fraud is the same for both modes.

The only advantage for automated elections now, Lagman said, is that it saves the Comelec some 12-24 hours of work at a cost of as much as P10 billion.

The former poll commissioner said the problems that came out during Saturday’s mock elections should have been solved earlier by supplier Smartmatic.

He said the Comelec has been focusing on superficial matters but not on problems like the lack of digital signatures, transmission problems and the lack of a project management officer that will be a systems integrator for the whole election.

Lagman said the unbundling of services that led to the bidding out of several contracts is not a problem since it was his recommendation to make the automation project more efficient, transparent and cost effective. The bidding for several contracts went through various delays and failures.

Lagman also said he sees no problem with the delayed printing of ballots, saying that the beginning always has some problems. One possible problem could have been reports that the printing machines have vibration problems.

"The same problem happened in 2010 na sinasabi ng Comelec malakas vibration ng makina. You can expect that. Adjust nila makina to reduce that vibration or eliminate vibration. Napaka-critical ng alignment ng balota, pwede ma-misalign," he said.

Another problem could be the ballot paper may not have been acclimatized to the Philippines yet since it was imported from a colder country. Lagman noted that the test ballots in the mock elections came from Germany.