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Party-list reps push for parallel manual count

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Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares: Manual count necessary INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Some lawmakers are still pushing for the conduct of a parallel manual count alongside the automated ballot count.

Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said a manual count, although tedious, expensive and time consuming, was “necessary to preserve the credibility of the elections.”

“Despite its assurances of readiness for the 2013 midterm polls, the Commission on Elections should still conduct a parallel manual count to serve as a backup should the counting machines fail, and to serve as a countercheck to the results,” said Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares.

Colmenares, vice chairman of the House Committee on Suffrage, said that while the 2010 automated election results were generally accepted by most, there remain genuine concerns about the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.

A parallel count, as also suggested by other election watchdog groups, could save the polls should glitches in transmission or a breakdown of the PCOS machines take place, said Colmenares.

“In that way, we can preserve the credibility of the results of the election,” Colmenares said in a statement.

In a separate interview, he also pointed out that the machines are already three years old and most likely, not all of them would have been thoroughly tested prior to the May 13 polls.

There have also been issues with the source code, which the Comelec chief said would be open for review, but only after the elections.

The source code is the computer program that runs the PCOS machines.

ACT Teacher party list Rep. Antonio Tinio also said it would be “foolhardy” to rely on the PCOS machines alone, which was why a parallel manual count should be seriously considered.

“To trust in the PCOS machines at this point would be a foolish act of blind faith, considering Comelec’s failure to produce the source code for third party review,” Tinio said in a text message.

“Apart from Smartmatic, who can really tell what the machines are going to do with the vote count?” he insisted.

Colmenares noted that a parallel manual count would entail additional work and expenses, but that would be “a small price to pay for credible elections.”

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