Arroyo’s election lawyer wants polls postponed
MANILA, Philippines – Amid new problems that have cropped up in the country’s first nationwide automated polls, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s election lawyer has called for the May 10 elections to be postponed.
In a statement, he said “postponement of the election is the only remedy to prevent a failure of election.”
He said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is authorized to postpone the polls under certain conditions.
“The Comelec en banc, on its own, based on serious cause like the apparent failure of the PCOS [Precinct Count Optical Scan] machines to properly and correctly function, is authorized under Section 5 of the Omnibus Election Code to postpone the polls,” he said.
“Under the present situation, a 15-day postponement would be reasonable to give time for Comelec to print additional forms for manual tally and canvass,” Macalintal proposed.
He also said it was not the time for finger-pointing.
“This is not the time to blame anybody but the time to solve this serious problem,” Arroyo’s election lawyer said.
CIBAC wants polls reset to June
Meanwhile, a party-list representative on Tuesday said he will file a resolution asking the House of Representatives to ask the Comelec to move the nationwide automated elections to June.
In an interview on radio dzMM, Citizens Battle Against Corruption (CIBAC) party-list Rep. Joel Villanueva, son of Bangon Pilipinas presidential candidate Eddie Villanueva, said the Comelec should be given an extension of one more month to better prepare for the automated elections.
Villanueva said the House of Representatives can hold a special session to tackle his resolution.
If the House leadership decides to snub his resolution, the congressman said he will directly file a petition with the Comelec.
Villanueva came up with the idea after the PCOS machines failed to read votes cast for local candidates in some areas during tests held on Monday.
The latest glitch alarmed election watchdogs and candidates for the May 10 elections.
He said that he is aware that the Constitution is very specific that elections should not be delayed.
However, he said that pushing through with a glitch-ridden automated elections would be more unconstitutional.
Spaces caused misreading
Cesar Flores, Smartmatic Southeast Asia president, explained in a press conference on Tuesday that the latest glitch was caused by human error.
Flores said the company’s programmers failed to properly configure compact flash disks of the PCOS machines to properly read the votes for local candidates because of the changes made in the spacing of the names on the ballots.
He said the error showed up on the local ballot and not the national ballot “because the local ballot has double spacing. If you look at the national position, they are all single spaced.”
“If you mark the first row, it will be read correctly but for some reason, the configuration is telling the machine that the candidate on the second row is actually on a third row [because of the space],” he said. — with a report from ANC