In response to the petition for election recount, Commission on Elections (COMELEC) held a formal hearing last Feb. 3 at room W402.
The petition was filed by Dun Abiera, director of political affairs of the Pinag-isang Lakas ng Samahan ng mga Progresibong Atenista (Piglasapat).
Disclosed in the petition letter were the following requests: full disclosure of election returns, a subsequent recount of votes, a conduct of formal hearing, and postponement of the inauguration and convention of the SAMAHAN Central Board.
In the hearing, Abiera opened his argument with the rationale of why he filed the petition.
“For as long there is a vote being disenfranchised, Piglasapat will never cease to fight for the students. It is rightful for the [us] to unceasingly partake in legally presenting every Atenean whose vote was disenfranchised,” Abiera explained.
Said petitioner was backed by two of his fellow Piglasapat members, Amelita Carpio and Ivan Jules Capin, in presenting the arguments and points of clarification in the public hearing.
Two major arguments were presented during the hearing which involves cases on electoral mishaps and the lack of voters’ receipts.
Carpio argued on the fact that two Ateneans, Jay Adrian Vigil and Carl Beduya, were unable to properly cast their votes for their division representatives since the user interface only presented the “Abstain” option.
“Both of them experienced error in the electoral program even assuming that the electoral program is glitch-free, hack-proof or that the experiences of the two are just isolated cases and cannot affect the entire result. The COMELEC failed to pro-actively react to situations like these,” Carpio iterated.
Abiera also exclaimed that the lack of voter’s receipt in the electoral process goes against the right of suffrage since the voters were not able to verify their inputs.
Krisha Reyes represented the COMELEC in addressing the raised arguments of the petitioner’s camp.
“It is beyond our power to demand thousands of pesos from the finance department to provide us with the technology to print the receipts. Also, even the PCOS machines cannot provide 100% accuracy and are being questioned right now,” Reyes said.
Jaju Grandeza, the programmer of the election program, shed light on the glitches that occurred in the two testified cases that it was caused by an update and the local computers needed to be refreshed.
“What happened was that iba ‘yung abbreviation na ginamit sa mga division at sa registrar. So gi-update namin so that in the turnout, tama na siya. Apparently may naka-log-in na kaya walang lumabas na candidate kasi old abbreviation. Kailangan lang gawin ay mag-refresh. F5 lang iyan,” Grandeza explained.
Patrick Paasa, a faculty member, served as the arbiter of the hearing and was authorized to give the final verdict.
“If there was a massive breach of data, I would have moved for a recount. If there was tampering or hacking involved, I would have even moved for a re-election. What we can learn here is that we need to be more vigilant with our votes and even the COMELEC. My move is that there is no need for a recount,” Paasa motioned.
The arbiter’s decision is final and irrevocable.