By Minka Klaudia Tiangco
Poll watchdog group Kontra Daya called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to heed President Duterte’s advice to end its deal with technology provider Smartmatic.
In his meeting with the Filipino community in Tokyo, Japan Thursday, Duterte told the Comelec to “dispose” of Smartmatic and look for a new technology provider that is “free of fraud.”
This came after malfunctioning equipment and server glitches marred the recently-concluded national and local elections.
In a statement released Friday, the poll watchdog group said banning Smartmatic would be “a step in the right direction.”
“The Comelec should heed Duterte’s advice and take the necessary steps toward a foreign intervention-free and fraud-free election system,” the statement read.
The poll watchdog group also said the government should demand a full reimbursement from Smartmatic “for the damage it has done in the four automated election cycles in the country from 2010 to 2019.”
However, Kontra Daya said blacklisting Smartmatic is not enough, and called on the government to ban all kinds of foreign partners in future elections.
“Duterte and the Comelec should state categorically, as a matter of national policy, that there shall be no foreign intervention in the country’s election system from now on,” its statement read. “Foreign intervention in the people’s right to suffrage is downright unacceptable.
The poll watchdog group said there is no shortage of experts in the country who can implement the automated election system better.
Kontra Daya also called on the government to also look into vote-buying incidents allegedly funded by the government and incidents of harassment and intimidation allegedly done by state forces.
“That the rich and powerful continue to dominate and bastardize the election system is also glaring evidence of fraud as money politics and even ‘fake news’ become a ‘new normal’ in Philippine politics,” the statement read.