A group of bishops, former military and police officials and IT experts is poised to file a petition asking the Supreme Court to compel the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to use the voter verification paper audit trail (VVPAT), one of the four minimum security requirements mandated by law, in the May 9 elections. The Reform Philippines Coalition on Wednesday said it will file a petition for mandamus at the High Court on the first week of March. The group is led by seven bishops from various denominations — former Ligayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz, Rey Santillan, Bernie Malitao, Boner Andaya, Larry Celda, Butch Belgica and Noel Pantoja and IT experts Glenn Chong, Toti Casiño and Greco Belgica. It is supported by former Bukidnon congressman Al Lopez and two former Philippine National Police chiefs—Roberto Lastimosa and Hermogenes Esperon—and former Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency head Dioniso Santiago, also a former Armed Forces chief of staff.
The group plans to launch a mass protest to be attended by members of their churches, including the Catholic Church.
“We are asking the Comelec to restore the VVPAT as this is the only way we are assured that our votes are counted. It will also act as our way of verifying if the canvassing is correct,” said Belgica, who is seeking a Senate seat under the tandem of Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.
He added that the VVPAT is important because it will be used for random audit. Lopez said Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista should resign if the commission will insist on not implementing the paper audit trail.