What the Smartmatic-Comelec partnership was all about

FROM A DISTANCE - Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star) - June 8, 2019 - 12:00am

It’s good that President Duterte is tackling the Comelec-Smartmatic partnership even if he won an election with it in use. But cheating in automated electoral systems is limited. The six million advantage of Duterte could not be surmounted by electronic cheating. That is why he won. It was the crowds of enlightened which followed him that did.

It’s first used in the 2010 presidential election was accepted by the majority because machines were seen as more reliable than manual voting. We realized too late that it was a wrong assumption. We now know that this is not only not true but a worse form  cheating.

It was the convenient way of cheating because it cannot  be proven, the source code being only known to the party which paid for  it. We saw it happen in the 2010 election because it ensured the election of Benigno Aquino III. The perpetrators knew that no investigation or evidence could successfully prove it. We could know how it was done but it was withheld from the public knowledge.

Votes were not just bought but the entire process of who wins and who loses an election can be manipulated by machines and it could not be proven by ordinary means.

The cheating is known only to the authors of the source code. But the source code was never revealed. Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Senate election committee was not given the source code, making the 2010 elections a farce. Aquino’s son was to be elected by hook or by crook.

It has to do with the money to be made in the automated election system.

Comelec- Smartmatic did not begin in the 2016 elections but with the 2010 elections earlier when the decision was made to shift from manual to automatic electoral system. There were defects in the manual system but these could have been corrected. To me, the best correction would have been to adopt a different political structure – that is to switch from presidential unitary to parliamentary federal.

India which is one of largest democracies offered their system. They came here to sell their system and explained how they conduct their election. The way I understood it the first consideration was the huge number of illiterate voters. Like them that should be also our first consideration.

For this we would need to restructure our political system to include illiterate voters in the election system. That means smaller subdivisions of the population. That  is to go federal.

There would be little time for dagdag-bawas or the tedious process of moving votes from precinct to town to province to Manila where cheating and corruption happen. The party that wins in the local elections are added and known immediately by the voters in the precinct themselves while they watch the counting.

They vote for parties using symbols that illiterate voters understand. For example dog for liberals, cat for conservatives and lion for radicals. All they need to do is choose from these symbols. Counting for the winning party takes place on the day of voting at the precincts. If the lions win the biggest number of votes the party then chooses who they would vote for as prime minister. If there is a deadlock between winning party candidates they then go to coalitions to achieve a majority. This is of course a rough sketch of what do in here as they did in India. The key is to restructure into a parliamentary federal system.

The question I would ask is why Comelec should have engaged Smartmatic when it was already in disrepute with several suits filed against it in other countries. Indeed it did not matter to Comelec that turning over the electoral system to dubious machines was unconstitutional. And we let it go in 2010 despite all the doubts and questions of reformers.

When Andy Bautista was named PCGG chairman I and many others cheered because of his background and a good reputation. He was a friend whom I knew as a co-member of the 2005 Constitutional Commission organized during Arroyo’s administration. You know, the usual presumption was that he is from Ateneo, good family and well connected.

This column dug deeper into the Smartmatic-PCOS system and found there was more to it than the debate on whether we should return to manual in 2016. With the information, I would say categorically we have no choice but to discard the automated electoral system being forced on us by Smartmatic. It will not be an easy task. It demands a single minded and purposeful battle against Smartmatic, its system and the machines it has been peddling to corrupt officials.

At first, we were merely looking at big money being traded each time we had elections – money to buy votes, money to buy politicians’ favor, money to campaign and so forth and so on. The desire for good governance and the election of capable, meritorious candidates was out of the equation. Presidential elections had become a business and made millionaires even billionaires out of incompetent but popular personalities.

After googling for information on Smartmatic and its chairman, Mark Malloch-Brown, there was more about him that we should know.

He was central to the puzzle of why Smartmatic had such power and would not yield to any investigation or threat.

Prior to being Smartmatic’s chairman, he was vice-chairman of the George Soros Investment Funds and the administrator of the UN Development Program.

Wayne Madsen of the Strategic Culture Foundation wrote that “nowhere is the Soros and CIA influence felt more than in the UN Development Program.” He said that “many UN staffers have links to the CIA” like Lynn Pascoe and Gregory Starr, both UN undersecretary generals. Malloch-Brown was also the UN deputy secretary general.

We should not limit it to the crimes committed. It will not change things even if we had to impeach Andres Bautista as Comelec chairman then.

There will be another chairman who can and will be corrupted with the political structure we have.

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