Smartmatic personnel no longer allowed in PICC unless with Comelec authority

Smartmatic personnel no longer allowed in PICC unless with Comelec authority

MANILA — In the midst of the controversial “cosmetic” changes in the transparency server by a Smartmatic official, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Friday said that personnel of the international company, will not be allowed access at the Philippine International Convention (PICC) unless with specific authority from the poll body.

The Comelec en banc sitting as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) is presently conducting the canvassing of votes in the senatorial and party-list posts at the PICC.

Comelec Commissioner Christian Robert Lim, Project Director of the 2016 National and Local Elections (NLE), in an order addressed to Elie Moreno, General Manager of Smartmatic Philippines, and Marlon Garcia, Project Manager, informed that Smartmatic employees will have to secure authority from the NBOC or the Project Monitoring Office to be able to enter the canvassing area inside PICC.

“Henceforth, access to the same shall be subject to strict protocols. Your personnel shall not be allowed access to the same unless with specific prior authority from the NBOC and the Project Monitoring Office,” the one-page order said.

It noted that in case they were allowed access, the service-provider’s employees will be under the supervision by poll body personnel.

“In any case, access to the same shall always be under the direct supervision of a duly designated Comelec personnel,” the order added.

The poll body official explained that the order was issued to reiterate that the facility is under the control of the poll body.

“As a precautionary measure in the midst of numerous concerns and speculations as to the integrity of the Canvassing and Consolidated System (CCS) being used for the 2016 National and Local Elections, please be reminded that the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) has sole and absolute control over the CCS workstation located at the Philippine International Convention Centre (PICC),” it stressed.

On the other hand, the order said that as for equipment or system that Smartmatic needs to check, they have to secure the permission from the senior poll body official.

“Furthermore, kindly be reminded that as to any other equipment or system you (Smartmatic) may need to examine, please secure consent of the undersigned prior doing any action,” it said.

The Comelec added, “Finally, in the spirit of utmost transparency, follow the protocol of announcing any action to all parties present before undertaking the same.”

Meanwhile, the NBOC has counted a total of 147 Certificate of Canvass (COCs) since the en banc reconvened last Tuesday (May 10).

There are a total of 165 COCs that will be canvassed for the senatorial and party-list positions in the recently concluded polls. Ferdinand Patino/PNA/northboundasia.com