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Opinion

The Filipino crowd is for Duterte

FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa - The Philippine Star

I can understand why the Dutertistas are focused on showing how big their crowds are compared to Roxas’, Poe’s or Binay’s. It will be the protective shield against cheating. If the Liberal Party cheats the sovereign voters no matter what tactics they will use, the fact is the Filipino crowd has already chosen Duterte. He is the candidate who can restructure our political system and government that have served us so badly. To make that change we will have to change the Constitution for a parliamentary federal government. Only then will the poor and marginalized sectors play an active role in our society. They must be given every opportunity to live decently, even excel through their capabilities.

*  *  *

And yet a year ago getting people into the streets to protest against bad government did not seem possible. Dedicated constitutional reformers just shrugged and said hindi na uso ang EDSA (massing people in the streets is no longer in fashion).

We will just have to be content with discussions in our living rooms and around dining tables to continue the work. In other countries in the Middle East, in Wall Street etc. people were protesting, dying and hurting using their numbers. We looked at them with envy and exasperation. What has happened to the Filipinos? Have they lost their will to fight for change by gathering in the streets? Until Duterte appeared as a shocking surprise.

We needed a leader and he came with no money and no machinery, but he was from troubled Mindanao.

The first one I attended was his launch in Century Plaza Hotel with the crowded hall unable to include all those who wanted to come in. They greeted him at the door cheering Duterte, Duterte. He made a shocking speech, cussing and speaking in the language of the poor and the unlearned. That speech reverberated to the millions who have been left out of mainstream media that wrote only of the “Philippines as the fastest growing economy in the region.” From then on, the Filipino crowd for Duterte was born. It was a hurricane. The masses became conscious of themselves because of this man who came forward to say p.i we cannot continue like this electing governments that oppress the people.

*  *  *

The establishment were shocked but they could only put up candidates who would carry on with their “business as usual.” It was ironic that they all represented the very evils we needed to expunge – Roxas the oligarch who has not liquidated DILG funds, Poe a young woman with no experience but had the name of an actor and dubious citizenship. We must not forget Binay the vice president, the typical trapo who started well to lift up the poor but soon realized there was money to be made too and he would expand his Makati rule to the whole country. How could we have a choice for the change we wanted? None.

That is one of the reasons why Duterte’s entry into the race changed the election game. He was a different type of candidate, one who could emote with the people. The crowds came to show the world that Filipinos were not hopeless bystanders. The battle has just begun but the Dutertistas have made a powerful pitch. Still danger lurks. I called my friend Glenn Chong, an activist against election fraud with the hacking of 55 million voters’ details by a group calling itself Anonymous Philippines. Would these affect the elections?

Glenn said well it had the name, the address, the contact details etc of the voter. Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials said these were not sensitive? These are not sensitive? And nothing can be done about it? We will now have two sets of voters’ data – one for Comelec and another for anonymous hackers. We don’t really know what it will be used for, yet for the moment there is nothing we can do about it.

Security researchers warn that with the entire database of the Comelec exposed, anything goes. The Comelec website was compromised and defaced on 27 March by Anonymous Philippines before a second hacker group, LulzSec Pilipinas posted Comelec’s entire database online days later.

Interestingly, the data spill is just weeks before May 9. “Comelec ought to harden the security of its vote-counting machines at the time the hacktivists defaced its website,” Anonymous Philippines warned. Isn’t that warning a bit too late?

As usual Comelec is “playing down the significance of the breach, telling local media that no sensitive information was accessed and that election-related systems will be run from a separate website.” Huh?

Chris Boyd, a senior malware intelligence analyst at Malwarebytes who has lived and worked in the Philippines, said “the hack and subsequent breach are the product of a politically charged local hacking scene as well as widespread security flaws in the country’s infrastructure.”

“There are a lot of talented hacking groups in the Philippines, and it’s no surprise that a hack like this has happened. Whether in hospitals, airports, or shopping malls, every terminal you see there is running Windows XP,” Boyd told El Reg. “Additionally, most conversations at hacking events in the country tend to turn political, with many attendees frustrated with what they feel is underinvestment in the nation’s security infrastructure.”

Add to that: the receipts problem has not yet been resolved even with the Supreme Court voting 14-0 in its favor. With less than two months to go before elections Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista had to issue a warning that we may have to postpone the elections. He said the printing of vote receipts would have many complications.

He hopes he can still ask the SC to reconsider its decision.

“The risks of committing a mistake are higher when things are rushed, so the proposal to delay the elections is an option they are looking at.

“But that requires a law. Under Section 4 Article 7 of our Constitution, unless otherwise provided by law, regular elections shall be held on the second Monday of May,” he said.

Now you know why the Federal Court of Germany just chucked out the automated election systems. It is unconstitutional because a voter does not understand the technological process it involves. Filipino voters are mostly techno-illiterate. Therefore come May 9 voters have been thrown to the winds.

“The Comelec website also shows real time ballot count during the actual elections. While Comelec claims that this function will be done using a different website, we can only speculate if actual data will be placed here during the elections and if tampering with the data would affect the ballot count,” the security researchers added.

“Every registered citizen is at risk – regardless whether the hacking could affect the elections.”

 

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