Comelec exec 'sorry' to voters affected by delays, VCM glitches

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 10) — A Commission on Elections official apologized to voters on Tuesday who were inconvenienced by faulty vote counting machines and SD cards that delayed the conduct of this year's polls in various areas.

"We'd like to really apologize doon sa mga botante nating nagtiyaga, nagpakahirap, and [experienced] the incovenience [brought by] itong mga replacement SD cards, and yung mga for repair na VCMs," Garcia told CNN Philippines' The Source.

[Translation: We'd like to really apologize to the voters who carried on, struggled, and experienced the inconvenience brought by the replacement of SD cards and the last-minute repair of VCMs.]

"Definitely, wala naman pong may gusto talaga nito pero we have to gravely apologize (Nobody wanted this to happen but we have to gravely apologize)," he added.

Garcia said around 1,800 VCMs malfunctioned as of Monday, but the poll body has around 1,900 contingency machines in place.

The commissioner reasoned that the poll body initially asked Congress for additional budget to replace their machines, but this request has not been granted, so they had to make do with old ones this year.

He also reasoned those personnel in charge of replacing SD cards with issues come from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), and the poll body is only there to provide logistic support. This does not mean, however, that Comelec will not be liable.

READ: Comelec exec 'sorry' to voters affected by delays, VCM glitches 

"We have to rely on the principle that the buck will have to stop sa Comelec. In the final analysis, it wil always be Comelec who will make the final explanation of what really happened," Garcia stressed.

"Nung pagpasok na pagpasok ko (When I entered Comelec)…I called for the IT personnel and all personnel involved in the machines and in our system. Yun ang una kong inalam (These are the issues I studied first) because I have been an advocate even before of changing the system," Garcia said.

"I proved myself wrong. Because I was satisfied with the explanation given to me, and such other documents given to me that indeed, the machines will be running perfectly on election day."

As of noon on Tuesday, Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo said around 915 VCMs have already been replaced, while 469 SD cards were already regenerated.

In a briefing on Monday, he said that the poll body will unlikely reuse VCMs in the succeeding elections, following reports of faulty units.

READ: Comelec wants to retire vote counting machines after May 2022 polls 

The poll body spent about ₱1 billion to refurbish parts and upgrade the VCM software to make the units “good as new,” against an initial plan to buy new machines for ₱12 billion.

The Comelec said it is eyeing to buy new VCM units starting 2025.