MANILA – PDP-LABAN president Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III is very “happy and optimistic” over the results of Monday elections which had their presidential bet Rodrigo Duterte lead by an overwhelming margin.
In the same vein, he also reiterated Duterte’s earlier call for healing.
“We are reaching out to the other parties. We can start collaboration under the new administration,” Pimentel said.
However, the PDP-LABAN president expressed “extreme disappointment” at the high number of reported vote counting machines (VCMs) that malfunctioned on election day.
“These are supposed to be brand new VCMs. We rented them in two batches, at PHP39,000 per machine for the first batch and PHP48,000 for the next batch. These are brand new and yet they malfunctioned,” he said.
Pimentel, who is chair of the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation as well as the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Automated Election System, said he was assured by Smartmatic, the firm that supplied the VCMs to the Commission on Elections (Comelec), that the machines will work.
Quoting the Comelec, Pimentel said only 70 VCMs malfunctioned, a small percentage of the 97,000 that were used on election day.
But he said in Mindanao alone, they have recorded 78 malfunctioning VCMs.
“I don’t care about percentage, that this is a small percentage of the number of machines not functioning. I am looking at people, the number of voters who have been disenfranchised or greatly inconvenienced,” he said.
Pimentel said after the election, he will call on Comelec to require Smartmatic to explain properly and in detail the high number of VCMs that malfunctioned.
“In the meantime I am requesting Comelec to withhold payment from Smartmatic until it has satisfactorily explained what happened,” he added.
Pimentel said the party is also studying the possibility of asking the courts or the Department of Justice to issue a form of hold departure order against executives of Smartmatic.
“They should not leave the country until they satisfactorily explain before the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Automated Election System what happened,” he said.