If Comelec bungles website, what more poll automation?

GOTCHA - Jarius Bondoc - The Philippine Star

The whole of last week the Comelec groped for an acceptable alibi for what’s going on with its website. I had exposed that the poll agency, in its latest web posting, has drastically cut the official number of senatorial votes in the May 13 election (see Gotcha, 15 July 2013). I also quoted Comelec critics as saying it’s to cover up the anomaly that there were more votes than voters. Being also education-information chief, the task fell on the spokesman to answer reporters’ follow-up queries.

Why are top-notcher Poe’s votes reduced in the latest posting to 16 million, down four million from the 20 million in the previous posting of June 7 to the first week of July? Why are all the 33 senatorial candidates’ votes lessened too, ranging from four million to 100,000? While the 12 winners in the old and new “official results” are the same, why are the rankings of No. 3 Cayetano and No. 4 Escudero now switched?

He who is a certified member of MENSA but whose boss loves to badmouth before politicians kept changing the story. First he said there’s a disclaimer that the new posting, culled from the agency’s Transparency Server of the precinct counting, might differ from the official canvass results. Then he said the figures are lower because the precinct count was never finished. Next day he said he would investigate who deleted the disclaimer. Yet another day, it’s a supposed encoding or software glitch.

Still, questions arise:

• Why remove the official canvass results posted on June 7 to the first week of July, which now can be accessed only by clicking to other subjects and folders?

• Why replace it with the Transparency Server figures, which can be misleading precisely because based on an unfinished precinct count? Is it not logical for running tally figures to go up, not down, as the days progress and the counting comes to completion?

• What encoding or software error caused the switching of the two official results, and the disappearance of the supposed disclaimer? Is it anything like the Transparency Server’s “computer programming error” that led to the statistically and physically impossible tally of 12 million votes within three hours of the close of balloting last May 13?

• Is the Comelec so inept in maintaining a website? If 15 million amateur Filipinos can maintain personal sites through social networkks like Facebook and Twitter, how come a multibillion-peso budgeted agency cannot control its website content?

• Most tellingly, if the Comelec bungles up its own website, what more the election automation in 78,000 precinct clusters nationwide?

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Due to the misleading website postings, Comelec critics suspect all the more that there anomalously were more votes than voters. That such fraud occurred was gleaned from two earlier website reports of results. Those are among many proofs that the P12-billion precinct count optical scan (PCOS) voting machines, of middleman Smartmatic, were doubtful.

To recall, the Comelec on May 18 posted partial results from “129 (42 percent) of 304 certificates of canvass (CoCs) containing 39,898,992 votes.” By then frontrunner Poe already had 20 million-plus votes, down the line to 13 million-plus for No. 12 Honasan (see table, “Website postings of official canvass”).

This means the votes would double when the balance of 175 (58 percent) of the 304 CoCs is completed. But then, that would bring Poe’s votes to about 40 million. Meaning, all 39,898,992 voters who turned out on May 13 voted for her — an impossibility that millions would attest to.

Others’ votes would double too, all the way down to Honasan’s becoming 26 million. But that would mean 65 percent of the votes -- a historic record. The average that the No. 1 senatorial winners got in the past seven elections is 51 percent; the No. 12 winners got about half that.

The Comelec must have foreseen the booboo. So when time came to report the 175-balance CoCs on June 7 — voila! — it added only small increments of 72,000 to 190,000.

And because that too has been exposed as unbelievable, it is now posting as smokescreen the much lower, because incomplete, results from the Transparency Server. Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we set out to deceive.

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The latest in the government’s controversy-ridden bidding for the P3.8-billion supply of vehicle plates is an even hotter scandal. An anti-corruption NGO asserts that one of the two qualifying bidders is in the government blacklist.

Power Plates Development Inc. in 2004 had fabricated and sold Metro Manila Development Authority commemorative plates without the MMDA’s authority. This was alleged to Transportation Sec. Joseph Emilio Abaya in a recent letter of the Anti-Trapo Movement (ATM).

Power Plates purportedly forged the signature of MMDA assistant GM Angelito de Dios in order to secure the Land Transportation Office’s approval of the commemorative plates. The plates were then sold for P2,500 to P3,000 apiece. Many bought, since the plates allowed motorists to skirt the number-coding scheme, wherein the MMDA bans vehicles from main roads on certain days depending on the regular plates’ last digit. De Dios confirmed the accusations in recent news reports.

The ATM questioned the impartiality of the bidding, given that one of Abaya’s undersecretaries supposedly is often seen in socials with Power Plates officers. While the personal ties supposedly draw back to before the official joined the government, records also reportedly show that the company is financially incapable of undertaking a contract as big as P3.8 billion.

Reportedly Power Plates’ posted an audited net income of only P41,729 in 2012, from profit of P330,528 less operating costs of P288,799. Its net in 2011 was P22,356.

Its Dutch partner supposedly is as financially inapt, according to a paper by the Action for Consumerism and Transparency for Nation Building. Supposedly the J. Knieriem Goes BV is but one of seven subsidiaries of the H3 BV Goes holding company. With only 45 employees in 2011, it posted net loss of 215,068 euros (P11.6 million).

If the Power Plates-JKG venture is disqualified, as the ATM seeks, only one other bidder will be left. While the Procurement Reform Act allows such, it leaves a bad taste in the mouth. The transport department would do better to hold a new bidding. More so since the lowest though disqualified bidder alleges that, except for it, all the other participants did not comply with the required latest US manufacturing standard.

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Catch Sapol radio show, Saturdays, 8-10 a.m., DWIZ (882-AM).

Gotcha archives on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jarius-Bondoc/1376602159218459 or in The STAR online http://www.philstar.com/author/Jarius%20Bondoc/GOTCHA

E-mail: jariusbondoc@gmail.com


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