Teachers group airs concern over COMELEC adamant stand to follow SC ruling

TEACHERS group  assured its readiness to serve in the scheduled May 9 national election but expressed concern on the serious issues on the automated election system (AES) and the apparent disinterest of the Commission on Election (Comelec) to address the said issues.

“We, teachers under the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) are gravely concerned on ‘serious issues’ on the automated election system (AES). The issues since 2010 are the same unresolved problems under a foreign-controlled automated election system. Safeguards remain uncertain and it looks like COMELEC is not interested to address them,” Benjie Valbuena, President of Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said in a statement.

ACT issued the statement after the Supreme Court (SC) decided to hold an oral argument last March 17 following Comelec’s appeal on SC decision directing the poll body to activate the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) of the vote counting machines by issuing receipts to voters after they cast their votes.

Earlier, the SC in a 14-0 vote ordered the Comelec to issue receipts to voters as mandated under the Automated Election Law based on the petition filed by former senator Richard Gordon. The High Tribunal decision came after junking the Comelec’s petition seeking more time to answer Gordon’s petition.

Days after the decision came out and on Comelec’s appeal, SC spokesman Theodore Te announced that the SC decided to hold an oral argument. “The Court has ordered the conduct of oral arguments but it will be on very limited issues” Te said. Te stressed the issues that were discussed were confined in an advisory that the Court had set.

After the SC decision came out, Comelec warned of no election scenario if not a prolong election time. Chariman Andres Bautista also said that re-configuring the vote counting machines (VCMs) and its source code would be necessary as well as the retraining of the more than 50,000 teachers with the recent SC decision.

He however maintained that issuing receipt for voters is not mandated under Republic Act 9369 or the Automated Election Law. He also said that some 100,000 teachers that have been tapped to render poll duties in the coming May 9, 2016 election. Chairman Bautista added that half of the teachers have already gone training while the other half are scheduled to undergo the same training if not for the SC decision.
“If SC decision will be followed e kailangan po nating ikon-figure ang mga machines at ang mga teachers na nakapag-training na ay kailangang mag-training uli.” Bautista said in a radio interview.
ACT however said Comelec must heed the SC decision since the people have no way of determining if the correct program is installed in the VCMs.
“This is not a simple technical matter that may prolong the voting procedure, we are concerned about the end-results of the people’s votes considering those VCMs have “rejected or misread valid ballots and sent “erratic” transmissions of results during the mock elections.” ACT said. (Miko Arnaldo)

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