Smartmatic-PCOS election 2016 is a moral issue
FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) - August 14, 2015 - 10:00am

If we must discuss the merits and demerits of candidates  before the questions on the use of Smartmatic-PCOS elections 2010 and 2013 have been answered, we  are back to square one. 

To do so means we do not want elections. Why have it at all?

Election 2016 is about impunity for those who want to continue an evil system to choose our “leaders.” Until we scrap Smartmatic-PCOS we are like zombies unable to get out of deep politica s--- pardon the unspeakable word. But that is what it is.

I have been invited to a meeting at the Philippine STAR with Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista who is a good man. I think that is why he was put there. The best ways to shield the evil of Comelec’s impunity is to put a good man there. I will go ahead and say how utterly disappointing when such a good man is lost in deep ----. He says it is a challenge but the way things are going he is also the perfect cover for the impunity.

If the Smartmatic-PCOS is a moral one, this column bids all its readers to work against it – scrap it, throw it to the waste basket where it belongs together with all the anomalies in 2010 and 2013. Then we begin to change this country.

Those who are more knowledgeable on the technical aspects of Smartmatic elections have arrived at the same conclusion . Here’s what Dr. Rene Azurin says, a convenor of AES Watch and author of Hacking Democracy:

“Despite blatant violations of our elections laws in 2010 and 2013 and despite abundantly obvious flaws in the Smartmatic/PCOS system, Comelec has again chosen to award a supply contract for hardware and software to be used for the 2016 presidential elections to that clearly unqualified system provider Smartmatic-TIM. One has to wonder why our top Comelec officials – by now, three successive sets of them – are so tied to this dubious and shadowy Venezuelan supplier even if – in violation of its own procurement rules – Smartmatic (a mere reseller) owns neither the hardware nor the software it is providing.

The Filipino people will therefore be once again forced to vote in an election wherein they will have absolutely no way of knowing if their votes are actually being counted and no way of verifying and auditing whatever results are reported by Comelec.  The system Comelec implemented in 2010 and 2013 and that it is again bent on implementing in 2016 lacks the very critical feature of transparency to the voting public (the reason why countries like Germany, Ireland, and several US states have reverted from an automated to a manual election system). The Smartmatic system has also never been shown to be capable of meeting specified accuracy standards. Further, it is effectively un-auditable because Comelec has deliberately disabled crucial security features that might ensure the integrity of results. The system, therefore, is completely non-credible and undemocratic.

What should be obvious to all concerned citizens by now is that a mysterious cabal has successfully hijacked our election system and is fully capable of dictating whatever election outcomes it deems will suit its interests. As just one example, in 2013, Comelec – contrary to law – declared the senatorial election winners in spite of the fact that some 23% of the votes cast were un-transmitted and still unaccounted for (because accounting for them would have resulted in a vote count exceeding the registered number of voters). Indeed, Comelec has in many other instances demonstrated a complete disregard of prevailing election laws and has violated these with apparent impunity.

The question raised by noted Star columnist Carmen Pedrosa must therefore be addressed: Why vote at all?

If it is impossible to know if one’s vote is actually being counted and it is impossible to properly verify and audit the results being reported, there would be no point whatsoever in participating in what is essentially a farce of an election. For voters, there is no point in voting. For candidates who are not part of, or supported by, the mysterious cabal, there is, likewise, no point in running.

Verily, we can no longer reasonably claim that the Philippines is a democratic country or more importantly a moral one. We should not be fools or allow ourselves to be fooled.”

As for those who think they can get a constitutional reform after an immoral automated election, forget it. Who would give up such a hard won victory after spending billions for the machines?

There is a connection between “constitutional change” and automated election, but it will not be an honorable exchange. For these citizens it seems futile to cross swords. The exchange is really about stopping constitutional change by going ahead with automated dubious elections.

We were entering the modern age to be in step with other countries, including the US, that had looked down on our primitive elections that were prone to cheating.

But when the results came in, our IT experts were alarmed. Their questions were not about who won or who lost. It was about the vulnerability of the ‘automation” itself on which Filipinos placed so much hope. Confronted with doubts, they asked: “Is it possible to cheat in automated elections?” Many of them hesitated to ask because they might appear foolish with Smartmatic officials saying on television that electronic machines cannot lie or cheat. But soon, reports about incidences, behavior, manipulation punctured the cockiness of Smartmatic experts.

How was it possible that Comelec-Smartmatic were able to fix some 70,000 PCOS (Precinct Count Optical Scan) machines that they claimed had to be reconfigured for some technical errors in three days before the elections? What were PCOS machines doing in a house in Antipolo? What about those found in a junkyard in Cagayan de Oro? And so on and so forth. (CNP: Why not put all the anomalies together to show how widespread it was instead of reporting it piece meal.)

Moreover, in this age of the internet, all one has to do is google for a background check on Smartmatic. It faces suits around the world for their automated voting system. Why were they chosen? And when the complaints and reports came in why did media or government not care to look at the allegations?

We should not confine ourselves to protesting about winners and losers. It should be about the Smartmatic-PCOS automated system itself. We should muster the anger and fierce nationalism we had during the Philippine wars of independence. A determined band of crusaders can battle with vested interests that have crossed the line.

And if I must repeat the quote I love from I Margaret Mead: “Never underestimate the ability of a small group of individuals to change the world. Indeed, they are the only ones who ever have.”


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