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Put up or shut up: Palace tells PCOS critics

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Malacanang today (08 February 2015) told critics of Smartmatic’s Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines to back up with solid proof claims of election fraud for evaluation of authorities in the proper forum.

Communications Secretary Herminio “Sonny” Coloma, Jr. said ensuring the integrity of elections is the primary function of the Commission on Elections (Comelec), an independent Constitutional body.

“’Yon pong mga alegasyon hinggil sa mga makinang ginagamit ay mga seryosong alegasyon. ‘Yon pong may tuwiran at kongkretong batayan hinggil sa mga bagay na ‘yan ay dapat po sigurong ihain ang kanilang nalalaman sa tamang forum at tumulong po sa paglatag ng kumpletong impormasyon para ‘yan ay matukoy ng mga kinauukulang awtoridad (Serious allegations are being made against the machines [used for automated polls]. Those who have direct and concrete basis [to back up these allegations] should share complete information for evaluation by proper authorities),” Coloma stressed.

Coloma issued the statement when sought for his reaction to Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares’ warning of poll fraud if Smartmatic technologies are used in the 2016 polls.

Earlier, Coloma said the Palace continues to lodge its trust in the Comelec on the use of the PCOS machines. He said the reliability of the automated, precinct-based poll equipment has been proven in the 2010 and 2013 elections.

“We have gone through two national elections in 2010 and 2013. There were no massive protests or uprising from the people against the results of the two elections,” he stressed.

Two weeks ago, the Comelec en banc decided to enter into a P268-million contract with Smartmatic to diagnose, repair and/or replace broken PCOS machines. The negotiated contract was met by stiff opposition from so-called election watchdogs, Catholic bishops and other civic groups.

Former Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes, however, defended the contract as beneficial to government as it was much lower than the P1.2-billion original budget proposed by Smartmatic. The contract also avoids possible legal problems if another vendor will conduct the diagnosis and repairs since PCOS machines contain sensitive and high-security software and patented technology owned by Smartmatic.

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