MANILA, Philippines - The Makati Business Club (MBC) expressed disappointment in the Commission on Elections' (Comelec) rejection of proposals to hold a parallel manual count of votes for president, vice president and mayors to ensure that results of the May automated elections are credible.
The MBC is urging this time that the Comelec consider a simultaneous manual tally at least in the race for president, the most critical position.
"We are deeply disappointed in the Comelec for their outright rejection of our proposal to count just three positions in all the ballots cast on May 10," said MBC in a statement.
"If the Comelec's objection is the time it takes to count 3 positions, then they could count just one position, which would take less than one hour. But it should count all the ballots," it added.
The business group reiterated that a parallel manual count was necessary to validate results given out by the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines, which have not been pilot-tested before in an actual election.
"The risk of the machines making mistakes at a rate higher than that provided for (1 mistake out of 20,000) is quite high. We are gravely concerned that without such a verification of the accuracy of these machines, the election may not be accepted by the people as the true reflection of their will," the MBC explained.
Earlier on Thursday, Comelec spokesman James Jimenez announced the poll body's unanimous decision that it "cannot conduct a full parallel manual count."
He said the Comelec en banc believes that this would resurrect old types of fraud in manual counting such as "dagdag-bawas" and contradicts the rationale for automating the election process.
Jimenez also pointed out that a parallel manual count has no legal basis and cannot be sanctioned by the Comelec. He said only a random manual audit is allowed under the poll automation law.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News, MBC executive director Alberto Lim raised doubts over the Comelec's plan to implement just a random manual audit, saying this is unreliable and a waste of effort.
Lim said under this scheme, Comelec will only count a small portion of the ballots while more than 90% will remain unchecked. - With a report from Zen Hernandez, ABS-CBN News