MANILA, Philippines - Four losing senatorial candidates asked the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday to void the results of last year’s senatorial elections for alleged glitches in the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.
Questioning the accuracy of the results, Ricardo Penson, Hans Christian Señeres, Rizalito David and Baldomero Falcone said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) committed grave abuse of discretion in proclaiming the winners.
“It appears from the findings of the TEC that there was automated ‘dagdag-bawas,’ resulting in the proclamation of ‘accidental’ senators, when it concluded that lines caused ‘additional votes for candidates even if there were not votes for the candidate’ and ‘loss of votes for candidates who received votes which were not counted because the line caused an over-vote’,” read the petition.
Petitioners said the proclamation of winners and termination of canvass were premature due to existing questions on remaining election returns.
The Comelec failed to comply with the authentication of electronically transmitted election results and ignored the findings of “additional votes” and “loss of votes” of the technical evaluation committee, they added.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. admitted during a Senate inquiry that “the canvass was probably compromised,” and that he has not done “his duty to make further investigations,” they said.
Petitioners said the Comelec violated the constitutional provisions on transparency in matters of public concern when it did not make public several documents, including results of the canvass with a breakdown per region, random manual audit and technical report.
The petition was filed through lawyer Samson Alcantara, another losing senatorial candidate.
Proclaimed winners in last year’s elections were Senators Grace Poe-Llamanzares, Loren Legarda, Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Nancy Binay, Juan Edgardo Angara, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Aquilino Pimentel III, Antonio Trillanes IV, Cynthia Villar, JV Ejercito and Gregorio Honasan.
New CAC members
Three new members will join the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC) in preparation for the 2016 elections.
Chairing the CAC is the Department of Science and Technology-Information Communications Technology Office (DOST-ICTO).
The CAC has brought new members from ICT professional organizations Infocomm Technology Association of the Philippines (ITAP) and the Philippine Computer Emergency Response Team (PHCERT) to boost its technical competencies.
The new appointees include Science Assistant Secretary Raymund Liboro, John Paul Vergara of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and lawyer Rona Ann Caritos of the Legal Network for Truthful Elections (LENTE).
Dondi Mapa is the official ITAP representative, while Angel Averia Jr. represents PHCERT.
The CAC is comprised of nine members from academe, non-government electoral reform organizations, ICT professional organizations and select government agencies tasked to recommend the most appropriate, secure, applicable and cost-effective technology to be applied in the Automated Election System (AES).
Former CAC members who kept their positions as representatives of their organizations are Education Undersecretary Alberto Muyot, professor Rommel Feria of the University of the Philippines, and George Kintanar of the Chief Information Officers Forum Foundation (CIOFF).
Science Undersecretary Louis Napoleon Casambre, DOST-ICTO executive director and CAC chairman, expressed confidence that the council will be up to its task in 2016. – Edu Punay, Rainier Allan Ronda