Comelec given P30 M to clean up poll mess?

- Federico D. Pascual Jr. - The Philippine Star

PRESERVE EVIDENCE!: While concerned citizens expose and demand punitive action on alleged massive automated manipulation of the last May 13 election, who is doing anything to preserve the damning evidence?

The chilling answer is — it seems NOBODY is!

Meantime, well-funded operators are busy cleaning up the mess at the scene of the crime, destroying evidence and intimidating witnesses.

And nobody is touching Smartmatic, the foreigner collaborator of the Commission on Elections in staging what critics describe as a mock election costing taxpayers billions of pesos. Smart operators should have been barred from leaving the country.

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COVERUP? Against formidable odds, citizens and technical watchdog groups have been gathering what evidence has not been destroyed.

The Comelec, being the agency mandated to protect the sanctity of the ballot, should be the first to help ferret out cheaters and clean the system. Sadly, critics complain, the commission itself is obstructing efforts to expose the weaknesses of the automated system.

Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. himself gives the impression to many that he is covering up.

Being the lead lawyer of then presidential candidate Noynoy Aquino in the first computerized elections in 2010, can Brillantes be expected to do or say anything that would raise questions on the integrity of the Smartmatic-designed automated polls?

On electoral fraud issues, former election lawyer Brillantes should inhibit himself.

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P30-M CLEANUP: Internet lines are burning with reports that Malacañang has released additional intelligence funds – said to be P30 million this time -- to help Comelec in urgent special operations.

This latest job reportedly includes “safeguarding” PCOS equipment, compact flashcards and audit and print logs and transporting them to Manila. In other words, to destroy or tamper with the evidence.

While Brillantes & Co. has access to ample intelligence funds and is able to move very fast with the help of Malacañang , watchdog groups are handicapped by organizational, logistical and financial limitations.

Many of us are pessimistic about who will win the race to prove or disprove the accusation of massive manipulation of the last elections.

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SOURCE CODE: There is one remaining area of contention —  the source code which until now has not been reviewed and verified by groups and parties allowed by law to do so.

The possibilities are frightening. If all evidence in the field is wiped out or compromised, the source code could be the only remaining smoking gun.

The source code is the program giving instructions to the PCOS on what to do. For the computer to be able to read and obey the instructions, the source code is translated by a compiler into binary code (using just the digits 1 and 0) that the machine can read.

If nobody tampers with the hardware and the software, any malicious instruction (such as a command for a 60-30-10 ratio in a pre-allocation of votes) can be detected in a review of the source code.

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TOO LATE?: Are watchdog groups and political parties still interested in reviewing and verifying the source code and its binary translation installed in the PCOS? If so, they should do it before smart operators are able to replace, destroy or tamper with the codes.

A substantial or representative number of PCOS must be preserved -- as is-where is -- so the binary codes installed in them can be reviewed and compared with the alleged source code entrusted with the Central Bank. The source code and the binary code may just differ!

The problem is that the Comelec has been moving the PCOS. We do not know what else they are doing with them until they become useless as evidence in court.

The Comelec, with Malacañang backing it, has the advantage of being in control of the hard evidence until a truly independent court intervenes.

By the time court hearings start, the evidence could have been destroyed -- with smart and brilliant operators trying hard not to guffaw.

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LAND USE: At the Clark Freeport, meanwhile, the Bases Conversion and Development Authority announced that with the expected influx of more investors, it would rationalize the allocation and use of the limited space in the 36,000-hectare former American air base in Pampanga.

At the weekly “Balitaan” forum at Bale Balita (House of News) of the Capampangan in Media Inc. (CAMI), BCDA President and CEO Arnel Paciano D. Casanova said that more areas will be opened up and land that is not used by idle locators will be taken back.

He disclosed plans to transfer the “Air Force City” at Clark to Cubi Point in Subic to free at least 360 hectares of prime land being used mainly for housing. This will happen before the term of President Aquino ends in June 2016.

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GREEN CITY: Casanova discussed an ambitious plan to make Clark a “beautiful, highly integrated, high-tech, green community where Bonifacio Global City meets Silicon Valley amidst a lush greenery.”

He said that competitive bidding began in March last year for the master planning for Clark as a Green City, half the size of Metro Manila, to be positioned as the preferred investment destination in Southeast Asia.

For regional development, he said, BCDA has invested P33.8 billion in Central Luzon to create opportunities for investment and employment. Of this, P30.68 billion was used for the 94-kilometer Subic Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx) connecting the Subic Bay Freeport Zone and the Clark Freeport.

The BCDA has infused P1.28 billion in the Clark Development Corp., and P1.53 billion in CDC’s 230-kv transmission project. Another P1.25 billion was invested in the Clark International Airport Corp. and some P342.2 million in building roads in Bataan, Pampanga and Tarlac.

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RESEARCH: Access past POSTSCRIPTs at www.manilamail.com. Follow us via Twitter.com/@FDPascual. Send feedback to fdp333@yahoo.com


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