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Victimized again by VCM malfunctioning

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Nelly Favis-Villafuerte

Nelly Favis-Villafuerte

The election this year and the election last 2016 are both characterized by malfunctioning of the vote counting machine (VCM); the malfunctioning of the SD (Security Digital) memory cards; and the malfunctioning of the trasparency server.

Let’s discuss the VCM malfunctioning. One may ask: Did this VCM malfunctioning affect the result of the last election. Based on our own experience in the third (3rd) district of Camarines Sur, the answer is yes for candidates in the local level. VCM malfunctioning definitely affected the results of the elections in the local level. In our case, the VCM malfunctioning victimized us in both the 2016 and 2019 elections. In the 2016 elections, the first VCM malfunctioning started at 6:20 a.m. In 2019, the first VCM malfunctioning started at 6:18 a.m. at Clustered Precinct No. 12 in Concepcion Pequeña, Naga City. The malfunctioning VCM was fixed at 7:38 a.m. It took one (1) hour and twenty (20) minutes to fix the VCM machine. One (1) hour and twenty (20) is more than enough time to tinker or replace the SD card. Another machine at Clustered Precinct 11, Concepcion Pequeña malfunctioned at 6:50 a.m. And voting resumed at 12:07 p.m.! After the VCM machine malfunctioned for eight (8) times, voting resumed after more than five (5) hours interruption.

While there were a total of twenty-seven (27) VCMs that malfunctioned, there were several instances when one malfunctioning VCM broke down more than once. There was a VCM machine that broke down no less than eight (8) times! There are varied reasons why the VCM machine malfunctioned like when the ballot got stuck; or when there is a system error; or when the machine does not accept the ballot when there are markings at the right top of the barcode; or when the VCM machine overheats; or when there are no printed receipts; and when the VCM machine does not accept ballots. There are many other types of VCM malfunctioning.

The consequential effect of the malfunctioning of the VCM machine at the local level is disastrous. Why so? Because massive cheating through VCM malfunction is fatal to candidates in the local level like Congressmen and Mayors. The number of registered voters in a local election is definitely smaller than in a national election of senators. Thus, when a VCM machine malfunctions, the long queues of voters who are waiting for their turn to vote will not all have the patience or interest to wait for hours to vote. Or even if they have already voted, many will not wait for their voting receipt. They will just entrust the members of the Electoral Board to do the completion of the voting process. Or in instances where the SD cards have been replaced by the technician, we cannot help but suspect that there are mysterious changes made possible by the substitution of the SD cards. Every time the technician is called goes into the precinct to diagnose the VCM machine and/or tinkers with the SD card / or replaces the SD card – there is always that fear that a candidate’s votes in the local level will be adversely affected / diminished. This was our fear in the 2016 elections that became reality. How did we know? The audit log (which records all activities of the SD card) released by COMELEC to us two (2) years after the 2016 elections says it all. Not all losing candidates though who wish to file a protest will pursue filing a case because of the cost involved; the preparatory work preparing the needed documents; and the long period of time involved in the hearing process.

The malfunctioning of the VCM happened also in other towns in the district 3 of Camarines Sur like Calabanga, Pili, Bombon, Camaligan, Magarao and Ocampo.
There are many places in the Philippines where the malfunctioning of the VCM machine has fatally affected the results of the election in the local level. Like our family. We have been victimized twice by the VCM malfunctioning – in the 2016 elections and 2019 elections (Please read my article last week).

What is quite disturbing is that there were few VCM machine malfunctioning during the Final Testing and Sealing (FTS) stage last May 6-10, 2019 – why then, out of nowhere, during election day – there were so many VCM machines malfunctioning? Where did the defective VCM machine come from, all of a sudden? Was there no sufficient quality-control tests conducted by COMELEC? Or is it possible that what was delivered to the COMELEC by suppliers were defective VCM machines – because somebody from COMELEC ordered defective VCM machines as form of cheating?

Have a joyful day!

(For comments/reactions please send to Ms. Villafuerte’s email: villafuerte_nelly@yahoo.com).

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