Atienza backs Duterte order to ‘dispose’ of Smartmatic


Buhay party-list Rep. Lito Atienza on Friday expressed his support for President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to the Commission on Elections to “dispose” of Smartmatic, which has been providing the automated counting machines for the past four elections.

“We are in full support of President Duterte’s order for Comelec to ‘dispose’ of Smartmatic and ‘look for a new one that is free of fraud’,” the senior deputy minority leader said.

“Once again, the President has shown that he has the sensitivity to answer the nation’s growing problem of successive elections that have been marred by questions of irregularity. No one has dared to fix it, except President Duterte,” Atienza said.

Underscoring that each vote must be safeguarded and counted, Atienza said that with the current electronic system of voting using the machines, the voters have no way of knowing whether their votes were indeed counted especially after the Comelec “did away with several safety feature.”

“Instead of ensuring efficient and credible elections, the automated system has in fact made wholesale cheating even easier,” he said.

“This past election was no different, with several questions of so-called technical glitches cropping up everywhere, malfunctioning vote counting machines (VCMs), and let us not forget, the most glaring of which was the seven-hour delay in the transmission of voting data to the Comelec transparency and media server,” he added.

Atienza has long called for the amendment of the Automated Election Law (AEL) to put in place a modified computerized elections where the voting and canvassing will be done manually while the results are transmitted electronically.

“In the past three elections using the Automated Election System (AES), no one saw how the votes were canvassed,” he said.

“This lack of transparency–where voters are effectively asked to put implicit trust in the machine that can be tampered with–erodes confidence in a fully automated system,” Atienza said.

He proposed an amendment to the law “wherein the voting and canvassing of votes would be done manually while the results will be transmitted electronically to the central database.”

“In this way, we can preserve the integrity of the election process because the community can witness and see the counting accuracy at the precinct level,” Atienza said.