Poll chief asks critics: You want to go manual again?

By RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 05 2013 06:47 PM | Updated as of Feb 06 2013 02:47 AM

MANILA, Philippines - Commission on Elections Chairman Sixto Brillantes on Tuesday lashed back at the poll body’s critics, saying they only want a return to manual elections.

Brillantes made this comment after drawing fire for the conduct of the mock elections and the delayed beginning of the printing of official ballots yesterday.

"Iyon ang mga may gusto bumalik tayo sa manual kasi siguro may business sa manual. Di ko alam. Binili na natin ang [precinct count optical scan] machines, gumastos na tayo ng P1.8 billion. Gusto nila ibalik manual tapos may nagsasabi open system, manual balloting automated CCS. Madali sabihin. Di kasi nakakaintindi sa eleksyon ang nagsasabi nyan,” he said.

The Comelec chief particularly criticized former Comelec Commissioner Augusto Lagman who was with the poll body for 10 months.

"Pag former commissioner ka na, 10 buwan ka nagtrabaho na parang naintindihan mo na. Sasabihin mo madaling dayain PCOS. 10 buwan siya dito. Wala siyang ginawa?"

He also asked Lagman to bring his concerns to Comelec.

Lagman has been advocating for an open system where voting and precinct counts are manual while canvassing and consolidation as well as transmission of results are automated and electronic.

Brillantes said Lagman does not know what he's talking about.

"Pagbalik sa manual sa counting at canvassing ng election returns, [ma]manualin mo yan bago encode. Magkakagulo sa [election returns], o-object-an ng abugado at di matutuloy canvassing. Yung magaling sa automation pero nagpapilit manual di ko maintidihan. IT expert pero gusto manual," he noted.

Brillantes will face the joint congressional oversight committee on automated elections tomorrow.

He also appeared cold to the idea of another mock election, noting the costs. He said the Comelec felt that the mock election last weekend was generally okay.

However, he said the poll body has not dropped the idea yet.

Last Saturday, a PCOS machine rejected some ballots during the mock elections.

The printing of official ballots also started late on Monday night after an apparent false start. ABS-CBN reported that printing had to stop shortly after it began because of problems with the UV ink, a safety feature.

Brillantes said the printing of official ballots is proceeding, saying reports about the delays were blown out of proportion.

He said the NPO may print ahead of schedule that the Comelec may not be able to check all printed ballots immediately.

The Comelec chairman said there is enough security in the NPO premises but said he wants media to stay and continue their coverage as that will be an additional layer of security.

Meanwhile, there is still no news about the replacements for retired Commissioners Rene Sarmiento and Armando Velasco.

Brillantes said Sarmiento and Velasco have reservations over the 25,000 consultancy fee being offered to them.