The Commission on Elections (Comelec) has to focus its attention in complying with the decision of the Supreme Court of the Philippines requiring the vote counting machines (VCMs) to be used in the May 9 polls to print ballot receipts.
According to vice presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. the poll body, which is faced with possible delays in its timelines should attend to preparations in compliance with the ruling.
“The high court has spoken and the Comelec must comply with the high court’s decision. No matter how the Comelec feels about it, the body should immediately begin preparations in accordance with the ruling,” he said.
Marcos said that given the limited time available before the May 9 elections, the Comelec should immediately work to reconfigure the VCMs, obtain the necessary supplies and address other logistical problems to comply with the ruling.
Despite the challenges, he noted the Comelec should bear in mind that it has the obligation to conduct clean, honest and credible elections.
“All these practical considerations, I believe, pale in comparison with the imperative to have honest and credible elections. With ballot receipts our voters would have some degree of confidence that the voting machines indeed counted their votes properly,” the lawmaker added.
On Tuesday, voting 14-0, the SCOTP ordered the poll body to activate the Voter Verification Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) features in the VCMs to assure the credibility of the elections.
Comelec Chairman Juan Andres Bautista said the decision would introduce complications in their preparation for the May 9 elections, among others because the machines have to be reconfigured to comply with the SC decision.
He also expressed fears that the high tribunal’s decision would prolong the voting process at polling booths, adding that they would have to conduct another bidding for the additional paper required for printing ballot receipts.
The poll body is set to come up with its decision on its next step after meeting with the Project Management Office (PMO) officials on Wednesday at their warehouse in Sta. Rosa, Laguna. (PNA / By Ferdinand G. Patinio )