MANILA, May 28, 2013— The Catholic Church’s social action arm today asserted that the recently concluded election was a “mockery of our democracy” and the results were “questionable.”
In a statement, the National Secretariat for Social Justice and Peace (Nassa) observed the large-scale vote buying, disenfranchisement of voters, malfunction of voting machines, corrupted compact flash cards and transmission failures.
While Nassa respects some positive assessment on the recent polls being relatively peaceful and the process easier and faster, it said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has a lot of explaining to do about the alleged poll-related irregularities.
“Nassa is not blind to the glaring discrepancies and election violations, the highly-suspicious interventions during the canvassing, and the possible manipulation of election result during the lull hours of transmission, canvassing and consolidation of votes,” the statement reads.
“The Comelec and its deputies, as well as other stakeholders who subvert the will of the people, should be made accountable for their actions,” it said.
No safety measures
The Church agency also criticized the poll body for its supposed non-compliance on the automated election system laws.
Even before the election, it said that the Comelec’s refusal to allow interested parties to review the source code, as well as to install the necessary safeguards on the PCOS machine, as provided by law, including the proper implementation of the random manual audit, “cast doubt” on the poll body’s sincerity to conduct a transparent and authentic election.
“Source code review and other safety features are basically confidence-building mechanisms to attain clean, authentic and credible election,” the Nassa said.
No factual, legal basis
The Nassa also questioned the Comelec in proclaiming, on an installment basis, the 12 senators “without factual or legal basis.”
“It is a violation of election rules relating to winners to be proclaimed only after all ballots are officially canvassed,” it said citing the Comelec Resolution Nos. 9700 and 9700-A.
The Nassa said that candidates who have insurmountable lead can be proclaimed winners if the remaining uncanvassed ballots will not adversely affect result, but the Comelec “acted suspiciously” when it proclaimed the first six winning senatorial bets on May 16, with only 72 out of 304 certificates of canvass (COCs) accounted for.
The number of COCs, it added, is representing only more than 13 million of the country’s 52 million voters.
When the Comelec proclaimed the next three winning candidates on May 17, about 23% of the total clustered precincts or 18,187-clustered precincts with potentially 8.6 million voters are still to transmit the election returns.
“Obviously, the number of votes can adversely affect the 7th to 12th senatorial candidates,” according to Nassa.
“We could not understand why Comelec sacrifices accuracy and truthfulness over ‘speed.’ Almost all transactions and decisions of the Commission are characterized by speed, especially in conducting the bidding and the buying of the PCOS machines.”
“Ironically, the Comelec did not show the same speedy consideration to the suggestions and recommendations from election advocates and watchdogs,” the Nassa said.
The Nassa reiterated that the Comelec should be held accountable for the controversies hounding the May 13 elections.
It also called on the responsible agencies to conduct a thorough investigation of election irregularities and incidents reported.
“Huge penalty and punishment should be imposed on those who easily took advantage and violate the law. Public office is a public trust; it should be public service for the common good,” the Nassa said.
“We as citizens should speak now. This so-called automated election with its malpractices will be perpetuated in the coming elections if we do not loudly clamor for accountability,” it said. (Roy Lagarde)