Duterte says Comelec should junk Smartmatic machines

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte said the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should junk the vote-counting machines (VCMs) of technology provider Smartmatic for the 2022 national elections.

"I would like to advise Comelec now, hindi ko na lang hintayin (I won't delay this). Dispose of that Smartmatic and look for a new one that is free of fraud," Duterte said on Thursday, May 30.

He was speaking in a Tokyo hotel in front of Filipinos based in Japan.

"Kasi ang Liberal (Party) sabi nila nadaya sila. Ako, sabi nila nadaya rin. (Because the Liberal Party says they were cheated. Me, they said I was cheated too.) You know it's creating an environment of hostile attitude against that Smartmatic. You have 3 years," Duterte said.

The President said Smartmatic has been associated with many aberrations but that he was not ready to say there was corruption involved.

"The people don't like Smartmatic and if you use that in the next elections, 3 years from now,  I don't know what will happen. Something has got to be improved on the system. Stop using Smartmatic because there's been a lot of – I don't want to attribute corruption," said Duterte.

Though he said he was only advising Comelec, Duterte was more forceful multiple times in his speech. 

"You have 3 years. Kakatapos lang ng election (The elections just ended). Palitan na ninyo kasi (Change it because) it is no longer acceptable to me, to the people, and even to the congressmen who are here," he said.

Duterte claimed he was waiting to make this announcement during his State of the Nation Address in July but thought this was a good occasion as any.

The Comelec is supposed to be an independent constitutional body. Even the President cannot dictate on policies and actions pursued by the Comelec. Duterte acknowledged this in his speech.

"Kindly, I am now asking you as a co-equal body, it's just promoting turmoil, please do not use it," he said.

The Comelec is yet to choose its service providers for the 2022 elections. – Rappler.com

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.

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