Duterte to Comelec: Stop using Smartmatic

A vote-counting machine in a polling precinct in San Rafael, Rodriguez, Rizal which was reportedly experiencing errors during the May 13 polls. (Rowena Sahay/Eagle News Service)

(Eagle News)–Stop using Smartmatic.

President Rodrigo Duterte gave this advice to the Commission on Elections, following the May 13 polls  that saw the breakdown of some vote-counting machines.

Duterte made the statement even as many of his senatorial candidates garnered the votes necessary to make it to the winning circle, and practically obliterated the opposition Otso Diretso, which did not see any of its Senate bets make it to the Top 12.

Bam Aquino was the highest-ranking Otso Diretso candidate in the final and official Comelec tally,  at 14th place.

“If you use that in the next election three years from now I don’t know what will happen. Something has got to give. Improve on the systems. Stop using Smartmatic,” Duterte said before members of the Filipino community in Tokyo, Japan, where he is on a working visit.

Smartmatic has been the country’s provider since 2010, when the Philippines first implemented automated elections.

But the Venezuela-based firm’s machines are not without fault, with many of them encountering problems during the elections themselves.

In the May 13 elections, former Vice President Jejomar Binay had to personally  go to the Comelec headquarters after his shaded ballot had been rejected eight times by the VCM.

Comelec gave him a new ballot.

Then-reelectionist Senator Grace Poe also had to leave and return later in the day to her polling precinct in San Juan, after the VCM there refused to work when she cast her vote.

Comelec, however, has said that by and large, the May 13 elections have been successful, noting that the bogdown of some VCMs was merely isolated.

The poll body said no failure of elections was declared in any part of the country in the recently concluded polls.