To Comelec – Give us back our democracy!

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Philippine Star

I just don’t get why the Commission on Elections (Comelec) voted unanimously to award Smartmatic Total Information Management (TIM) a contract to lease 93,977 Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) despite all the negatives that we and so many critics, especially those coming from apolitical groups from the information technology sector who believe that the last two national elections, the 2010 Presidential elections and the 2013 mid-term election were wrought with electronic fraud.

Comelec has raped Philippine democracy in the last two elections using the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS). Yet today, the Filipino people who are supposedly living in this high-tech age of information technology with their smart phones aren’t still smart enough to detect that this Comelec now under Chairman Andy Bautista is prepared to pull another fast one on the Filipino electorate? Worse, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) is still headed by the same chairperson Henrietta de Villa whom we said was the deodorant of the Comelec.

What is really wrong with this country huh? Why can’t we get our acts together for the sake of the Filipino people? Just a week ago, The New York Times came up with yet another damaging and embarrassing article and blared the results of a survey of 13 Asian economies and the survey says “The Philippines has the distinction of being perceived in the worst light this year.” “People are just growing tired of the inaction and insincerity of leading officials when they promise to fight corruption.”

Reading this, I’m hearing alarm bells ringing all over the place. Yet no one in this country is alarmed at the gravity of the corruption happening around us and splashed in the news!

For the nth time… and I hope our beloved Justices of the Supreme Court are aware of this fact that Comelec leased or bought from Smartmatic nearly 90,000 PCOS machines for billions of our tax money and these were only used twice and today Smartmatic was saying that the old voting machines can no longer be refurbished?

What is a PCOS machine anyway? It is an electronic box, no different or electronically complex than your copier machine (which I’m sure that the Supreme Court has many) and yet after using it only twice in 2010 and the 2013 elections, they are already broken? Electronic companies have warranties and Smartmatic has none? This fact alone should warn Comelec never to deal with Smartmatic ever! Yet they still award Smartmatic with billions?

I dare say that we are staring at corruption in the face and we have only the Supreme Court as the last man standing between continued rape of Philippine democracy and a possible anarchy. Then we read in the news that report last Saturday the “sob” story of two Comelec Commissioners, first Commissioner Rowena Guanzon saying that she voted with “sadness” and that she was pushed to the edge forcing Comelec to choose Smartmatic.

Then there’s Commissioner Sheriff Abas who also said the same thing. But despite their “sadness” the Comelec would still push for these electronic elections, despite Smartmatic’s ugly record not just in the Philippines but many other countries as well. What we are seeing here is a Comelec zarzuela and the Filipino people are falling for hook, line and sinker!

Again, let me reiterate that we have written numerous columns which have are more than enough proof of electronic fraud from the Compostela, Cebu elections of 2010 and the Dalupihan expose of Tong Payumo and Biliran elections of 2013 as exposed by former Rep. Glenn Chiong, where the PCOS machines proved beyond reasonable doubt that those who cheat in this electronic polls can get away with it.

It is a fact that Ateneo IT Professor Alex Muga revealed to the public that the 2013 elections resulted in the infamous 60/30/10, which he accurately tagged as 60% for Liberal Party (LP) candidates, 30% for UNA candidates and 10% for those who ran without a political party. This is an IT Professor who is apolitical and no one cared to conduct an investigation on these facts?

Meanwhile, last July, former Comelec Commissioner Augusto “Guz” Lagman, Ma. Corazon Akol, Glenn Chiong and two others filed a case against Smartmatic officials for allegedly switching the source codes of the PCOS machines in the 2013 elections. So the question is, is it too late for the Supreme Court to act on this case?

As the New York Times report noted with a question, “How effective is the judicial system at prosecuting and punishing individuals for corruption when abuses are uncovered?” the respondents gave the Philippines a score of 9.06, with 10 being “ineffective.” My good friend, Erik Espina texted me this message from a Comelec high official, “Comelec is always ready for manual back up 100% nationwide because the ballots are paper which are still countable manually even if all the machines fail.” I dare say to the Comelec give us our democracy back and let’s go manual voting so our votes can be counted!

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