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Bayan Muna leaders on Sunday took encouragement from President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that Smartmatic should not be used in the 2022, saying it bolstered the party-list group’s position that Smartmatic should be banned from Philippine elections.

Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares and Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should heed Duterte’s advice and junk Smartmatic for the next elections.

“It can be remembered that Comelec contracted Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corporation (TIM) to supply 23,000 optical mark reader (OMR) machines that were used in the 2016 poll. Bayan Muna already said that this was highly suspect and anomalous for the Comelec when it reconsidered its earlier decision to disqualify Smartmatic-TIM in the contract to supply some OMR machines for the 2016 polls,” Zarate said.

“On top of other serious and technical issues hounding it, there are allegations that Smartmatic is a shell of a corporation, either formed without real assets or was formed to hide its real owners and the extent of its assets,” he added.

“This was a very serious matter that should have prompted the Comelec to take a second look before granting it with a new multi-million contract. Now, after this year’s election there are so many questions that Smartmatic should answer like hundreds of vote counting machines malfunctioning, hundreds of damaged SD cards and the 7 hour delay of the transmission of the results,” Zarate said.

“Comelec has a lot of explaining to do in the deliberation of their budget in Congress,” Colmenares said.

He noted that Comelec has not only previously disqualified Smartmatic but has in fact set a second round of bidding only to cancel it in favor of Smartmatic.

“Mula PCOS (Precinct Count Optical Scan) machines dati, tinawag na OMR (Optical Mark Reader) tapos ngayon ay VCM (Vote Counting Machines), pinalitan lang ng pangalan pero yun pa din naman ying mga palpak na machines na dati pa ginagamit,” Colmenares said.

“The teachers and the Board of Election Inspectors will face an angry public if the Comelec will still use the old VCM machines because many will surely malfunction,” he added.

“More disturbing is the huge number of voters who will be disenfranchised once these old VCM machines malfunction. Kawawa na ang titsers,ang BEI, at mga botante so Comelec should no longer insist on automating the elections through the Smartmatic VCM,” Colmenares said.

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