(Eagle News) – The Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is now looking for options for automated elections technology providers that could be presented to the Commission on Elections as an alternative to the controversial Smartmatic technology.
Information and Communications Technology Secretary Eliseo Rio Jr., said that his department is now complying with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to look for an alternative to Smartmatic which the President wants to be replaced for the 2022 elections.
Rio said that they could be ready with viable options to be presented to Comelec by the end of June.
-Options for next elections-
“The President directed DICT to come up with options that can be used in future elections,” he said during a joint congressional oversight committee hearing at the Senate on Tuesday, June 4.
“We are going to come up with options for the consideration of Comelec so that it may be able to reach the next election. We will have options to be presented to the Comelec, this committee, and the people of the Philippines as a whole, maybe as early as before the end of this month,” Rio explained.
The secretary recalled that President Duterte was emphatic that he did not want Smartmatic to be part of the next elections as previous elections where it had been used were marred with glitches.
Smartmatic provided the vote counting machines (VCMs) for the Philippines’ automated elections in 2016 and more recently the May 13 midterm polls.
During the May 13 polls, some 1,000 VCMs malfunctioned, according to the Comelec.
-Duterte’s advice to Comelec: Dispose of Smartmatic-
President Duterte, during his trip to Japan, said that he was advising Comelec to look for another election technology provider after numerous complaints in the 2019 midterm polls.
During a meeting with the Filipino community in Japan last week, the President was asked by an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) why the government continues to tap the services of Smartmatic despite its lackluster performance and dubious track record.
As a response, the President said, “I would like to advise Comelec now—hindi ko na lang hintayin—dispose of that Smartmatic and look for a new one that is free of fraud.”
President Duterte said he is supposed to address the issue by incorporating it in his state-of-the-nation address (SONA) in July.
“Kasi ang Liberal…sabi nila nadaya sila. Ako sabi nila nadaya rin. And you know it’s creating an environment of hostile attitude against that Smartmatic. You have three years. Kakatapos lang ng election. Palitan na ninyo kasi it is no longer acceptable to me, to the people and even to the congressmen who are here,” he added.
According to the President, the government should do away with anything that promotes cheating which is why, he said, he is recommending that Smartmatic be replaced as Comelec’s technology provider.
He also expressed displeasure over the government’s bidding process as a way of securing contract for election technology provider. The government should scrap such procedure, he said.
Comelec received numerous complaints for failing to protect the integrity of the elections.
The May 13 election was the fourth national elections that used the automated voting system of Smartmatic. Critics said that despite having four automated elections, Smartmatic is still marred by various technical glitches, a Malacanang release noted.