Comelec: More trouble from Smartmatic

SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila - The Freeman

Last Tuesday a Catholic Media Network Forum of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) presented non-political groups headed by the Tanggulang Demokrasya, AES Watch, and the Center for People Empowerment in Government (CENPEG) who answered all the questions that media asked about the implementation of the Automated Election System. But searching all the mainstream news media outfits, including television, you can really sense that they were not interested in finding out what really happened in the May 2010 elections because of the many errors in the use of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS).

We also reprinted a portion of a report written by Roberto Verzola years ago entitled “The Discrepancies found by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV): Tip of the Iceberg?” But even that did not trigger any serious concerns even from political groups. At this point, if and when the PCOS machines are used for the 2013 elections… and it does exactly what it is designed to do… cheat many candidates of their votes, please don’t come to me in tears because we have more than warned you that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is working for certain political groups and not for the Filipino people in general.

I asked Msgr. Ramon Arguelles of Lipa what happened in that forum since he is the only person I knew who attended it… and his reply was. “I’m truly surprised why the mainstream media did not care to cover it… and it is not out in the news today.”  If this is not a major cover-up… I don’t know what it is. Meanwhile, let me just state that for as long as Smartmatic cannot assure the public that it has fixed all the bugs or glitches that occurred inside the PCOS machines during the 2010 elections, how much more for the coming 2013 polls when Smartmatic no longer has the source code from its licensor, Dominion Voting System. What gets my gall is that these foreign companies handling our automated elections are getting away with bloody murder!

If you didn’t know, last September 11, 2012, Smartmatic sued Dominion Voting System in the Delaware’s Court of Chancery and in that suit, it even used the arguments that we used that happened in the last May 2010 elections. How much proof do you need to accept the reality that something was gravely wrong with the PCOS machines when they used it in 2010? Yes, Virginia, these will be the same PCOS machines that the Comelec will use in the 2013 elections… except that now… Smartmatic could only give the Comelec the hardware as they no longer have the software to operate that confounded voting machine.

In an Internet report about Catholic Media Network Forum of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines last Tuesday it read, “According to Dr. Pablo Manalastas, an information technology practitioner and Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) fellow, fixing the long list of bugs and errors found in the PCOS machines will require the source code or its baseline program, a tool that Smartmatic does not have based on its complaint against Dominion Voting System because only Dominion has the right to fix those bugs. Clearly Smartmatic didn’t have the source code.

The source code under the law, is a human readable program and the “master blueprint” that reveals and determines how the machine will behave. It will show whether ballot counting and canvassing are done properly. Since Smartmatic doesn’t have proprietary rights on the source code, therefore it has no right to fix those bugs. Yet they told the Comelec that the bugs were fixed.

Manalastas added “Under Section 12 of Republic Act (RA) 9369—the law on automated election system—the Comelec shall make the source code available and open to political parties and interested groups for review. CenPEG issued many requests for the source code from the Comelec but to no avail. They never had the source code in their hands and therefore they have violated Comelec laws.”

Again, if you folks out there are not alarmed by this report… then you are going to get the government that you deserve. In other countries, anyone trying to fix their electoral processes will get the ire of the people. But then Filipinos don’t seem to care. I don’t see people marching the streets against the Comelec… which is why they will cheat us in the 2013 elections.

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We’ve been reading reports about the President failing to attend a gala dinner in Australia in his honor because of a bum stomach. But somehow, other rumors are coming out of the woodwork, because no less than Health Secretary Ona gave a suggestion to the President to take a vacation. Of course, all these sound advices given to the President went out his other ear. At this point, the Filipino people have the right to know the state of health of our President and if he continues not to be transparent, therefore he is no different from then Pres. Ferdinand Marcos who kept his illness away from the Filipino people.

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The Ramon Aboitiz Foundation, Inc. is celebrating its 48th founding anniversary, which was discussed in its official radio program “Pagtuki” last Nov.17 and no RAFI Founding anniversary could be celebrated without talking about Don Ramon Aboitiz, who was born on Nov.16, 1887. He is only a year and two days older than my grandpa, Don Jose Avila. That the Aboitiz Family business empire that he founded has flourished through the decades is no doubt a lasting legacy for this simple man.

But knowing about his life story, about his ups and downs in the business world, let me say that Don Ramon Aboitiz’ enduring legacy was his spirituality… that to Love God also meant to love your fellowman, even in their poverty. This is why Don Ramon established RAFI in 1966 (I was just graduating in USC Boys high school) because he believed that the welfare of the people are equally as important as the welfare of his businesses.

But instead of simply giving out to beggars on the street, he elevated his philanthropy by institutionalizing it in RAFI. Don Ramon no doubt has already gotten his reward in heaven… but as he looks upon RAFI, I’m sure he can smile at the work that the men and women of RAFI has been doing in continuing his legacy and passion in helping people help themselves. This is what RAFI is to many of us Cebuanos who have been touched by their work.

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