Palace opposes parallel manual count
MANILA, Philippines – A spokesman for President Arroyo on Tuesday opposed a petition for a parallel manual count of the May 10 polls.
In a press conference, Deputy Presidential Spokesman Roger Peyuan said the timing of the petition is suspect, just two weeks before the country’s first ever nationwide automated poll.
“Why are we spending for automation if we will just go back to manual? What do we really want?” he asked reporters.
Peyuan added that the proposal to automate the nationwide election underwent meticulous study by various committees under the Commission on Election, Senate and Congress. He said the petition for a manual audit was only done after Comelec had finished printing all 50.9 million poll automation ballots.
“I don’t think it’s permissible at this point in time,” he said.
Various groups have called on the Comelec to implement a parallel manual count of the May 10 elections to allay fears of possible cheating in the first ever nationwide automated election. Among the groups who have supported the proposal are the Makati Business Club, the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP), the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX), National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections and Philippine Bar Association.
Six of the 9 presidential candidates also sent a letter to Comelec to conduct a simplified parallel manual count for president, vice president and any of three local posts: governor, member of the House of Representatives, or mayor. The proposal said the results of the parallel manual count will be compared to the tally by the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines.
“The credibility of automated elections has suffered because the Comelec has removed many of the safeguards that were initially set in place – a credible source code review, ultraviolet mark checking, and the authenticity check through digital signatures, among others,” read the letter.
“Credibility and acceptance of the outcome of the elections can be restored by simply adding this one step – the parallel manual count.”
The letter was signed by former President Joseph Estrada, Sen. Benigno Aquino III, Sen. Jamby Madrigal, Bro. Eddie Villanueva, Olongapo City Councilor JC de los Reyes and Nick Perlas.
Sen. Manuel Villar Jr., Bagumbayan standard-bearer Richard Gordon and former defense secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. did not join the call.
In an interview, Gordon said he opposed the parallel manual count since he is confident that the poll automation process will work.
Teodoro, on the other hand, said he opposed a manual count since it could lead to trending.
Nacionalista Party spokesman Gilbert Remulla, meanwhile, said their group is not inclined to back a parallel manual count because “it is very late in the game.”
“We don’t know the rules and why they only want a parallel count for the president, vice president and mayor?” he said.
“It might turn out that the election fraud will happen (in the manual parallel count). What will happen in a situation when the results (of the automated count and the manual count) won’t match?
“Which will be more credible – the automated counting or the manual count which is also prone to errors.” With a report from Philippine Star