election fraud

BSAIII action plan on peace and development in Mindanao

Aquino-Roxas Mindanao Peace and Development Agenda

Action Plan on Peace and Development in Mindanao

Peace and Security

Transparent and consultative peace process

Workable peace is possible only if supported by a broad, active and informed peace constituency.

  • I will assume direct responsibility for the revival of the peace process with the MILF.
  • I will reconstitute the peace panel with men and women of integrity who will directly report to me. There was a time when the peace process was doing well until the Arroyo Government began to use the peace negotiation as prop to political survival. I will see counsel from peace advocates like former OPAPP Secretary Deles, Peace Panel Head Afable and former Notre Dame University President, Fr. Mercado to put back on track the credibility needed in the peace process.
  • I will ensure the participation of various Mindanao stakeholders – Muslims, Lumad, Christian settlers – in the negotiating panels and working groups;
  • I will create a niche for the participation of other Muslim “gatekeepers” particularly traditional and LGU leaders, MNLF, the Ulama, Bangsamoro civil society.
  • Request the Bishops-Ulama Conference to submit a report on the results of the consultations it conducted in the aftermath of the failed MOA-AD; likewise with all known civil society organizations and academic institutions which undertook similar consultations or researches in the past year, such as the University Network on the Mindanao Question led by the UP School of Law, the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, the Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy, and the Al Mujadilah Foundation.

The results of all these processes should be collated, with key points of agreement and contention identified for inputting into the peace mechanism, as appropriate. On this basis, a mechanism should be devised for these groups to participate in the continuing dialogue on and monitoring of their recommendations.

MNLF

  • I will immediately convene the Oversight Committee on the Organic Act on Muslim Mindanao (RA 9054) and complete a review and assessment of the implementation of the law. I will issue an Executive Order reviving/extending the function of the Oversight Committee, which was last convened before 2004 and which never completed its task, and impose a deadline for the completion of its work.
  • I will order the Department of Foreign Affairs, with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), to give a report on the tripartite review of the GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement and cull the “immediate doable” measures that government can undertake.
  • I will order an inventory of the backlog on assistance to MNLF rebel returnees, as the basis for determining the requirements and timetable for addressing the gap and closing the existing program, while a new program is crafted in cooperation with concerned LGUs and approximating the international standards on DDR (Disarmament, Demobilization and Rehabilitation) of former combatants.

Indigenous People

  • We will review the recent appointment of the Commission to ensure they are in accordance with the law and rationalize the NCIP plantilla to professionalize the bureaucracy to do its mandate under the law, including the delineation of ancestral domains (AD) and support the development of the Natural Resource Management Plan (NRMP).
  • I will work with IP communities and all land and resource-management related agencies for a thorough review of all Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADTs), Certificate of Ancestral Land Titles (CALTs), and Certificates of Free Prior and Informed Consent (CFPICs) issued towards weeding out those issued defectively, fast-tracking decisions on all pending applications, and providing support for development and implementation of the ADRMP for areas covered by CADTs.
  • I will ensure basic education, health, and sanitation facilities and services for IP communities.
  • I will look into the immediate situation of security of IP communities in areas of ongoing armed conflict.

Internally Displaced Families

Families displaced by conflict will receive full support to be able to return to their communities of origin, if they so desire.

  • I will put up a compensatory fund which will provide shelter, food and livelihood assistance to enable the estimated 30,000 internally displaced families to return to their homes.

Lawless and Criminal Elements

I will dismantle private armies and take a firm hand against all forms of lawlessness

  • I will ensure the prosecution of all identified perpetrators of the Ampatuan massacre. I am aware that the families of the victims and witnesses of the crime are vulnerable to harassment as well as bribes to weaken the case. I will ensure that families of the victims and witnesses of the crime will receive adequate protection and support as they work for justice.
  • The Maguindanao massacre was not just a local Maguindanao problem. It was abetted by the national government with government policies and resources. DND should submit immediately the result of its investigation and inventory of the arms and ammunition confiscated from the Ampatuans and identify civilian and military leaders responsible for the build up of arsenal of the Ampatuans.
  • I will revoke EO546. Never again will public funds be used to support and maintain a private security force.
  • KFR incidents are national security concerns. I will commit full budgetary support to PACER in establishing and implementing an anti-kidnapping strategy in Mindanao; provide full support for the filing of charges against suspected perpetrators, including full protection for released victims and their families.
  • Under my watch, I will ensure that all security forces will be insulated from partisan politics. I will implement the Defense Reform Program started by former DND Secretary Nonong Cruz which aimed to build a professional AFP. A professional AFP along with a professional PNP committed solely to defend the constitution and uphold the law is the key to the dismantling of private armies and implementing the gun control. All forms of excuses for self-protection can be abandoned only when citizens trust state security forces.
  • We will aim to improve the ratio of security forces to our growing population.
  • All appointments in the AFP and PNP will be based on merit and performance.
  • Forces on the ground will be provided with adequate provisions, equipment and training to be able to discharge their duties effectively.

Governance

Performance Incentives

Setting National Policy: Performance- and outcome-driven over-investments in education, health, and employment interventions.

  • I will match every peso invested by 4th and 5th class LGUs in basic education, maternal and child health care and potable water and latrines.
  • Moreover, I will provide additional support to performing LGU’s so they can fast track filling the gaps in attaining targets for their education, health and sanitation programs. In education I will support LGU efforts to attain 100% basic education enrolment, lowering dropout rates and increasing completion rates.

Transparent and proper use of public funds

I will ensure that all fund releases to all LGUs will be transparent and its utilization fully accounted for.

  • I will support DBM’s effort started by former Secretary Emilia Boncodin in regularly publishing and disseminating all releases to the LGUs.
  • I commend COA for their fearless reports which exposed politically sensitive cases such as the Jocjoc Bolante fertilizer scam. I will ensure adequate support to state auditors for proper and accurate audit reports. And their reports will not end in filing cabinets. The OP will take the necessary action on irregularities in the COA reports.

Free and honest elections

I will ensure free, honest and orderly elections.

  • I will release the Mayuga Report to make public the findings on the role of the military in the controversial 2004 elections.
  • On the next ARMM election in 2011, I will install measures that will hold paramount the will of the people of ARMM. The military and the police will remain strictly politically neutral. They will ensure that the election is clean, orderly and peaceful.

Development

Infrastructure

To transform Mindanao into modern agricultural center and the nation’s food basket.

I will address infrastructure gap in farm to market roads, irrigation and post harvest facilities.

Corollary to this, to substantially reduce post-harvest losses, post-harvest facilities will be provided to Mindanao corn, coconut and rice farmers while processing facilities will be made available to coastal fishers and aquaculturists.

Additional irrigated farms will raise cropping intensity and hence productivity contributing in the process to the attainment of the goal of self-sufficiency for specific commodities and bolstering export-competitiveness for others.

  • During my term, I will improve its total road network by bringing its current paved road ratio closer to the national average. This will lower transport costs and post-harvest losses.
  • Corn driers will be priority of DA under my watch. Every 1,000 hectares of corn land will be serviced by at least 1 corn drier.
  • Irrigation coverage will be expanded. Mindanao has about 700,000 hectares of farms that need irrigation. We will expand irrigation facilities to service half of the area by the end of my term, subject to sound cost-benefit analysis.

Public Investment

In areas of Mindanao where private investors are hesitant to invest due to high risk and uncertainty, my administration will establish state enterprises that will partner with potential private investors or extend guarantees to them to spread the risks. The purpose is to generate investments in these areas as a way of jump-starting economic activities and providing employment opportunities so direly needed in these communities. This will be the government’s direct assault on breaking the vicious cycle of lack of jobs, resulting to greater poverty, in turn partly fuelling the conflict, leading to lack of investments and lack of jobs.

  • Among my priority will be government investment in the development of the Halal Industry. This, first and foremost, will answer the essential need of Filipino Muslims for access to food and non-food products that is consistent with their faith. This will also enable local producers, Muslims and non-Muslims, to partake of the multi-billion dollar world halal market.
  • I will encourage investments in our energy sector to tap more diverse sources of power and lower the cost of energy in the long term. In the short term, I will support moves to mitigate the effects of the power crisis such as:
    • Leasing power barges
    • Contracting additional generating capacity through cooperatives and private utilities
    • Allowing the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines to use ancillary services such as the contracting of back-up generating capacity
    • Promoting demand side management

[Archived from the official campaign web site of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III]

Manifestation of BSAIII at the joint session of Congress on martial law

Manifestation of Sen. Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III at the joint session of Congress on martial law, December 14, 2009

Manifestation at the Joint Session on Martial Law

Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, over the weekend, the President lifted the proclamation of martial law. Under different circumstances or perhaps if done by a judicious President, her act should have calmed the public groping for answers as to whether there was an existing rebellion at the time of the proclamation. But her act has raised more questions that need to be answered.

We join the condemnation of the massacre of 57 Filipinos in Maguindanao. Condemnation is not enough. We need to unearth the conditions that allowed such a crime in order to prevent a recurrence.

If we are to remain committed to the constitutional principles upon which the whole fiber of a just and orderly society rests, it behooves us to continue to inquire as to the factual basis of the declaration of martial law.

Was there truly a legal basis for declaring martial law in Maguindanao?

Was the restoration of peace and order the real reason for the imposition of martial law or are there other reasons yet unseen?

Was it to instill fear, given the very negative connotations of martial law?

Was there actual, not just impending, rebellion?

Was martial law imposed to cover up the discovery of DND/PNP arms and ammunition proving government support for the warlords that have delivered questionable election victories to this administration in the past?

Was it to enforce such overwhelming control to prevent any leakage of information and suppress evidence of electoral fraud and other crimes?

Was it meant to re-establish control of the alleged massive electoral fraud machinery in time for the 2010 elections?

Was this a test case for implementing martial law rule in the entire country?

Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, the people deserve an answer, an explanation of the circumstances that led the administration to resort to this action. The joint session of Congress was the ideal venue for providing the needed enlightenment. Let the people’s voice be heard and indeed, it is through us that they will be heard. Let us not shirk from our responsibility, lest we transform ourselves into a passive accomplice of this administration’s penchant for constitutional defiance.

The President’s action has deprived Congress of its constitutional mandate to exercise oversight on how martial law powers are wielded.

Some claim that with the lifting of the proclamation of martial law in Maguindanao our constitutional duty in this whole exercise have become moot and academic. But as elected representatives of the people it is within our constitutional duty to ensure that this historic convening of both chambers of Congress will not be an exercise in futility.

It is for this reason, Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, that this representation urges both chambers to create a jointly appointed Independent Commission that will study and come up with recommendations to Congress in aid of legislation as to clearly define the conditions that would warrant the declaration of martial law, a definition of how the Commander-In-Chief should exercise martial law powers and to provide guidance to the Congress in the exercise of its oversight function over this presidential prerogative.

[Archived from the official campaign web site of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III]

Poll watchdogs fear high-tech cheating

Poll watchdogs fear high-tech cheating
abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – Two election watchdogs warned Thursday that the May 10 elections could be the target of high-tech cheating after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) admitted that there was no more time to check the contents of 76,000 newly configured flash cards.

Election watchdogs Transparentelections.org and  Automated Elections System Watch said the new flash cards being configured by poll machine supplier Smartmatic-TIM should be subjected to public scrutiny, particularly by IT people.

IT expert Augusto Lagman of Transparentelections.org said the machine vendor, or an erring programmer hired by the company, can easily pad and shave votes through the flash cards.

“You can do dagdag-bawas (vote padding and shaving) with that.You can give instructions [to the flash cards or the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines]. It’s just like a computer, that’s why you have to trust the administrators and the vendors,” he told ABS-CBN.

Alfred Pascual of AES Watch said his group warned the Comelec about the possibility of high-tech, massive cheating in the automated election system because of the time constraints imposed on the poll body to prepare for Monday’s elections.

“We have highlighted that the flashcards are the most vulnerable in this elections. [We should] check what’s in the flash cards. What if there are pre-recorded images in the flash cards?” he said.

He said that aside from an audit of the configuration of the flash cards, concerned groups should also be allowed to witness or physically monitor the cards when they are installed to avoid switching.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez on Thursday said the new programmed compact flash cards, which experts said can be a tool for high-tech vote padding and shaving, would not be open to the public for scrutiny.

“The configuration should be open to the public at some point, but right now, I don’t think there will be enough time to show it anyway,” Jimenez told ANC’s Headstart.

Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM are racing against time to configure 76,000 flash cards by Friday morning or just 3 days before the May 10 national and local automated elections.

Comelec ordered a nationwide recall of all flash cards of the PCOS machines after the machines failed to read votes cast for local candidates during field testing on Monday.

Pre-programmed cheating

Pascual, meanwhile, rejected a proposal to postpone the elections to give Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM more time to fix the glitches. “To give more them more time would mean giving them more time to probably commit more errors,” he said.

He said that from the start, his group had noticed that Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM were doing a “trial-and-error” approach in the automation project.

“What is happening is that Filipino voters are becoming unwilling participants in this very expensive experiment. I call this a heuristic exercise, a trial and error exercise,” Pascual said.

He said that when the Comelec awarded the automated project to Smartmatic-TIM, the contract specified that voters can just place a simple X mark with a pen or a pencil on the ovals corresponding to the candidates’ names.

He said Smartmatic-TIM failed to meet the specified mark since voters are being advised to fully shade the ovals for their votes to be counted by the PCOS machines.

Pascual said he could not understand why Smarmatic-TIM failed to identify the latest glitch since they have already conducted a number of field tests and mock elections.

He said that with all the glitches, the Comelec should reconsider a proposal to hold a parallel manual counting of the votes.

Jimenez, for his part, admitted that Comelec has not prepared for a total manual count because they are only prepared for a 30% manual count as part of their contingency plan.

“It can be done, yes. That is up to the en banc to decide, but right now there is no reason for that,” he said, when asked if they are preparing for a 100% manual count.

Vulnerable elections (1): Memory cards

Vulnerable elections (1): Memory cards
by Prof. Giovanni Tapang, PhD
Kontra Daya

Posted on 04 May 2010

With the May 2010 presidetial elections coming in only two months, citizens groups have raised their concerns regarding the conduct of the first nationwide automation of our elections. Groups such as the anti-fraud and election monitoring group Kontra Daya have called on the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to “walk the talk” regarding its claim that all systems are in place for the Automated Election System (AES) and only an earthquake can stop the May 2010 elections.

Other groups are now busy preparing for the monitoring of the conduct of the elections. Yesterday marked the launch of the Project 30-30 of the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPeg) and its partner organizations with the European Union. Project 30-30 seeks to mobilize civil society groups and grassroots in monitoring and safeguarding against cheating and fraud with regard to the automated election system. There will be a series of voters’ education and training activities around the country to provide information and knowledge about the elections in general and the AES in particular. During election time, there will be an international observers mission as well as election monitoring watch teams that will be deployed to observe report on the conduct of the elections. Working together with the CenPeg are the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, the Council for People’s Development and Governance, the Computer Professionals’ Union (CPU), the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers.

Even with the involvement of various sectors, there is still much to be worried about. Problems that have cropped up during field tests and mock elections still have to be addressed by the Comelec. There are also the thirty (and more) vulnerabilities that CenPeg and groups like the AESWatch have raised on the conduct and design of the automated election system. Issues like the lack of transparency and the climate of impunity continue to be prevalent in many places in the country.

Memory cards
As mentioned before, the CenPeg has pointed out more than 30 vulnerabilities in the AES. Among these are issues regarding the source code, the integrity of the counting machines and the procedural weaknesses of the AES as currently implemented by the Comelec. We’d like to raise our concern about one more possible vulnerability that has not been thoroughly pointed out in previous analyses of the AES.

In the AES, a Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machine reads in the long ballot filled out by a voter. This PCOS machine is equipped with a program (the firmware) to read and tally the votes (supposedly built from an audited and tested source code) and deployed to more than 76,000 clustered precincts nationwide. As each precinct has a different set of local candidates, each of these clustered precincts should be configured differently from the rest.

How will this configuration be accomplished? The PCOS machine has a memory card, specifically a CompactFlash (CF) card, where the data for the local candidates is stored and also where the election data during and after the voting exercise is stored. As such, the first possibility is that the configuration data might be incorrect. Swapping the configuration for one precinct with another will, at the minimum, result in the miscounting of local election results. There should be a way to verify that the configuration files in the memory card is for the correct precinct.

Anybody with a digital camera is familiar with the frailties of the memory cards and the security of their pictures. Pull out the memory card from the camera and your pictures can be corrupted. The same can happen in PCOS machines. The stored files (from the configuration to the results of the elections) can also be corrupted if one pulls the CF card from the machine.

Additional programs and pre-tallied results can also be written unto the CF card before the elections and be executed by the PCOS machine when it is turned on. For many electronic devices such as cameras and cellular phones, using a memory card is how manufacturers update the firmware after the device has already been sold to the customers. The CF card has more than enough space to accommodate more than the data from the count including an errant firmware update or worse, an election result that is already pre-cast for someone to win.

Even if interested groups were allowed to audit and test the source code for the original firmware of the PCOS, we will not be able to check the new firmware’s integrity if it is delivered through the memory cards. The Comelec should provide a way for poll watchers and other interested groups such as Kontra Daya to verify the integrity of the memory cards before they are used in the PCOS machines.

This will be the first of a series of columns on the vulnerabilities related to the Automated Election System. Dr. Tapang is the chairperson of AGHAM. His group was founded in 1999 and is not running in the 2010 elections

Philippine poll body to push ahead with May 10 vote

Philippine poll body to push ahead with May 10 vote
By Manny Mogato and Rose Francisco
Reuters

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ Commission on Elections said it would do everything to ensure national elections were held as planned on May 10, after faults with vote counting machines prompted some calls for a delay.

“Now is the time to work together as a people and as a nation,” Comelec commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said in a televised briefing.

“Those who are liable will be held liable, those who are negligent will be held accountable, but for now, let us work together to ensure that the elections will work on May 10, 2010.”

More than 76,000 memory cards from automated voting machines to be used in national and local elections on May 10 have been recalled after tests found they failed to read ballots and print accurate results.

Analysts have long expressed concern the untested system left the door open for vote fraud or in the worst case, a failed elections that could lead to instability and civil unrest.

Larrazabal said Smartmatic, the supplier of vote-counting machines, was ready to ship new and reconfigured memory cards throughout the country for tests in the next two days.

More than a dozen helicopters were made available by top private sector firms and businessmen to deliver the memory cards to 80 provinces ahead of balloting on Monday, he added.

The Philippine Air Force has also offered to help deliver the memory cards to remote islands and mountain villages to cut delivery time by 80-90 percent, Larrazabal said.

“We are committed to pull this through. There will be elections on May 10,” Cesar Flores, Smartmatic’s president for Asia, told the news conference at the Comelec office in Manila.

Flores said 40,000 new memory cards from Taiwan and another 30,000 cards from Hong Kong would arrive on Thursday to replace the faulty software in voting machines.

About 25,000 cards that were pulled from the machines would be reconfigured on Wednesday at Smartmatic’s warehouse in Laguna, south of Manila, to correctly read and tally votes, he said.

Larrazabal said the new cards would be sent, tested and sealed by the eve of the May 10 elections, when more than 50 million Filipinos are eligible to vote for president and nearly 18,000 national and local positions.

Bayan Muna on GMA's plot: From No-El to Oplan Rafael

Bayan Muna on GMA’s plot: From No-El to Oplan Rafael
By Delon Porcalla
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – Militant party-list group Bayan Muna yesterday disclosed the Arroyo administration’s purported plan to stay in power, this time through what it called “Oplan Rafael” or Retain Arroyo through Failure of Elections, replacing the previous “No Election (No-El)” scenario.

“The game plan of election operators within the Department of National Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines has already changed from No-El to Rafael,” Bayan Muna Rep. Teddy Casiño said.

He accused Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales of hatching Rafael himself after divulging plans of some groups to cheat in the elections on May 10.

“Rather than a postponement of the elections, the scenario builders and planners including Gonzales are now looking at a failure of elections to ensure (President) Arroyo’s stay in power.”

Casiño added Gonzales and the military, under the cheating operations, are also actively campaigning against the re-election of Bayan Muna in the party-list elections as well as the senatorial bids of Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza of Gabriela.

He said Bayan Muna would file a complaint against Gonzales and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Delfin Bangit before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) for election offenses.

Casiño called on Gonzales to resign for cooking up these scenarios and making negative pronouncements about the May 10 elections.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and other lawmakers urged Gonzales to just shut up if he has nothing positive to say about the first automated elections on Monday.

Gonzales earlier revealed attempts to cheat in the elections on May 10 have already started.

He said the military has started tracking down the groups behind cheating attempts that were to favor two presidential candidates he did not mention.

According to Gonzales, money is now being distributed to some Comelec officials and the military to ignore the cheating operations on election day.

Gonzales told the joint forum of the Bishops-Ulama Conference in Davao City last week that some members of the police and military, even from the Comelec, formed part of the groups behind the attempt to tamper with the elections.

Military and police officials asked Gonzales to prove his claim, but he could not present evidence.

The Comelec also summoned Gonzales, but just the same, he could not support his allegations.

Before this latest statement, Gonzales said the administration was preparing for the scenario of 30 percent failure of elections.

Sources say Gonzales’ statement on the supposed cheating operations instigated by two presidential bets is laying the groundwork for questionable election results.

“The people should always be on guard and immediately report any military involvement in partisan electoral activities, which include campaigning for or against a candidate,” Casiño added.

Casiño said they have evidence that indicated the military is also harassing supporters of Bayan Muna and those of Ocampo and Maza.

“We fear that the military’s attacks and electoral fraud against us will intensify in the coming days unless the AFP leadership seriously orders and sanctions all those involved in electioneering,” he said.

Assurances

The AFP, on the other hand, assured the Catholic Church that it has no plans to take over the government if there should be a failure of elections.

AFP spokesman Lt. Col. Arnulfo Burgos said Bangit gave the assurance vowing the AFP would protect the integrity of the elections.

“He (Bangit) reiterated his stand that he is for successful elections. He allayed fears that there would be military takeover or a junta. He said this will not happen because it is unconstitutional,” Burgos said.

Bangit met with the officials of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday as a follow up to the Bishops-Ulama Conference he attended in Davao City last week. – With Jess Diaz, Alexis Romero, Marvin Sy, Jaime Laude, Evelyn Macairan

No end to ‘horror’ tales 6 days to polls

No end to ‘horror’ tales 6 days to polls
By Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—Misaligned ovals and ultraviolet security marks. Untested servers, modems and websites.

There’s no dearth of reasons to worry about the credibility of the country’s first automated elections with just a week away, officials of the poll watchdog Kontra Daya said at a news conference Monday.

Kontra Daya, which groups church, civil society and militant organizations, said the servers that would receive and store results fed by the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in the field had not been submitted for testing and certification.

The servers will be used not only by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) during the May 10 balloting, but also its partners such as the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas.

Also untested are the PCOS modem firmware, the ballot production toll and the public website where results of the voting in the 76,000 precincts will be posted, the group said. The data could then be used to double check the tally.

Kontra Daya said that the deficiencies were disclosed in a March 5 memo of Comelec’s technical evaluation committee, which is tasked to certify that the components of the automated election system are operating properly, securely and accurately.

The group said the Comelec should explain why these “crucial items” were not tested and certified as required by law.

Kontra Daya also disclosed that the review of the US-based computer firm SysTest Lab on the source code, which is the set of instructions to be followed by the counting machine, showed that there were 23 minor problems in the code.

Kontra Daya convenor Rodolfo Lozada Jr., an IT engineer, said the lack of testing and certification of the automation components showed that the elections were being done unlawfully, and this could lead to the political exercise being wasted.

“Does this mean the results would also be unlawful?” Lozada said during a press conference. “All we’ve done might be wasted because the implementation of the law creating the automated election system was not done.”

Lozada blew the whistle on alleged bribery and overpricing in the $329-million National Broadband Network deal with China to electronically wire the nation’s bureaucracy that was subsequently scuttled by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

Result doubtful without test

Scientist Giovanni Tapang voiced concern at the lack of testing and certification.

“Even if the PCOS machines are working well, we are not sure if the end result would be correct,” Tapang said.

“The weakest link of a chain are those parts that were not tested. Even if the other parts are working, but there is a weakest link, there would be problems,” he added.

Tapang noted that there may not be time to take legal action against the Comelec. He said the people would have to be vigilant at every step of the electoral process, right up to the national canvassing level.

As for the source code, Rick Bahague of Kontra Daya and the Computer Professionals Union said that although SysTest Lab said the problems were “minor,” these could still cause problems, especially if safeguards are not in place.

Bahague said that these minor problems could cause data corruption. Even if a vote is recorded in the precinct, it could disappear when the results reach the canvassing centers.

Data corruption feared

According to Kontra Daya, one of the issues that SysTest raised was that the election data may not always be properly encrypted before being stored, and the certificate of canvass and statement of votes are not always encrypted before transmission.

“Erroneous programming on the database can lead to serious problems in data corruption and integrity. Transmission of data is not always encrypted and this can be exploited to manipulate results,” Bahague said.

SysTest also noted that the source code may not properly record undervoting. This means that if a person chooses less than the required number of candidates for a particular position, the machine may not record the choices correctly, according to Bahague.

He noted that SysTest reported that the software inventory that Comelec’s automation partner Smartmatic-TIM provided was inadequate. SysTest also pointed out that security tokens could be turned off when data are being imported to the consolidation and canvassing system.

This means that the whole system might be accessed, Bahague said.

Misaligned ovals

Earlier, information technology expert Robert Verzola of Halalang Marangal raised the possibility that the ovals could be misaligned since the ultraviolet security marks in the ballots were misaligned during the printing.

The error in the ultraviolet mark printing has prompted the Comelec to purchase UV lamps so that these marks could be detected.

Verzola said that if the ovals are misaligned, the votes could be misread or not read at all, thus resulting in an inaccurate count of the votes.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said that the poll body was looking at concerns raised by Kontra Daya and the other watchdog organizations.

He said that the independent certifying authority saw nothing wrong with the source code and downplayed concerns that the ovals in the ballots that voters need to shade could be misaligned, which could lead to an inaccurate counting of the votes.

Jimenez said all of the ballots that the poll body printed had passed through the PCOS machines to check if they would work properly.

There would also be a final sealing and testing of election paraphernalia to be conducted before the May 10 polls.

“The test ballots that we will use for testing and sealing are the same run of ballots that we’re actually going to use. So if there would be problems in the actual run [of ballots], these would show up during the testing and sealing,” Jimenez said. With a report from Maricar Cinco, Inquirer Southern Luzon

Military to go after poll cheaters

Military to go after poll cheaters
By Edith Regalado
The Philippine Star

DAVAO CITY , Philippines  – Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales yesterday revealed attempts to cheat in the elections on May 10 have already started.

Gonzales said the military has started tracking down the groups behind cheating attempts that were to favor two presidential candidates.

Though he did not identify the groups and the two candidates, Gonzales told the joint forum of the Bishop- Ulama Conference, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) that arrests would be made within the week.

“There will be attempts of cheating the national elections. I’m telling you that the cheating has begun… I have revealed this so it can be stopped,” Gonzales told the forum late Wednesday.

He added a group of 50 information technology experts gathered during the weekend and discussed what they have uncovered.

According to Gonzales, some members of the police and military, even from the Commission on Elections (Comelec), formed part of the groups behind the attempt to tamper with the elections.

“In fact, there will be attempts to bribe our Armed Forces and it has already begun,” he said.

Gonzales said money is now being distributed to some Comelec officials to ignore the cheating operations on election day.

He said sources from the Comelec confirmed his suspicions that some poll officials are being bribed just to look the other way.

“Many officials in the Comelec hate being bribed. Now I can tell you that one of my sources is from the Comelec itself,” he said.

Gonzales said the bribes are being distributed to officials to ignore the rigging operations in favor of the two unnamed presidential candidates.

“We have noticed this about two, three days ago, and it is too early to tell you who are involved and how this is going to be done… it might benefit two of the presidentiables,” he said.

Gonzales cited the position paper made by former Comelec chief Christian Monsod that cheating is still possible in the country’s first automated elections.

He said the calls urging the Comelec to conduct a parallel manual count already indicate attempts to rig the election results.

Gonzales revealed the Southern Tagalog region is one of the areas where a possible rigging of election results would take place.

Gonzales also stressed that he does not share the optimism of AFP chief Gen. Delfin Bangit and PNP chief Director General Jesus Verzosa who earlier gave assurance that the May 10 elections would be orderly and peaceful.

“I do not share the optimism of the two officers because I know that cheating has started even before the elections,” Gonzales told the forum.

Bangit, however, was quick to point out that he would not tolerate any cheating or any attempt to disrupt the elections.

“We will stop those who will cheat. Whoever will attempt will fail,” Bangit said.

Bangit also assured the public that the military would not take part in any attempt to establish a junta should there be a failure of elections.

He said failure of elections and cheating would only happen if the people would allow it.

“The AFP was created to make sure that the people’s real voice is heard clearly. The AFP will always be on the side of the people,” Bangit said.

AFP spokesman Lt. Col. Arnulfo Burgos Jr. said the military has no information verifying Gonzales’ claims that some members of the military are being bribed to look the other way.

“We don’t know anything about such bribery attempts. We have not monitored any attempt to bribe our military personnel,” Burgos said.

“If there will be, it is bound to fail. Our loyalty does not have a price tag. We are 100 percent certain that no one among the ranks of the military will be enticed to accept the bribes,” he added.

Gonzales also expressed apprehensions over the reported statements of Liberal Party (LP) presidential candidate Sen. Benigno Aquino III that if he loses in the elections, it would be an indication that he was cheated.

Although he did not specifically mention Aquino in his dialogue during the forum, Gonzales pointed out the candidate is planning to lead another popular revolt if he loses in the election.

“We have a presidential (candidate) who is assuming that he will win the elections, that if he loses… it means that he has been cheated. You know who this candidate is and they’re planning (another) people power. I am worried about this people power business,” he said.

Aquino had warned that any attempt to rig the elections on May 10 could incite another EDSA revolution.

Gonzales also denied allegations that he was openly campaigning for Nacionalista Party (NP) presidential bet Sen. Manuel Villar Jr.

“It seems to me that they are trying to show that the Secretary of National defense is not serious after all in making sure the AFP remains non-partisan in the coming elections,” he said.

Critics suspect that the AFP will be used to manipulate this year’s elections after some ranking military officers became involved in rigging the results of the 2004 presidential elections.

The following year, the names of some military generals were mentioned in a wiretap recording supposedly detailing the telephone conversations between President Arroyo and a former Comelec official in Mindanao to rig the election results in 2004. –Alexis Romero

Comelec junks parallel count

Comelec junks parallel count
By Mayen Jaymalin
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – It’s official.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will only conduct a random manual audit of votes in the coming polls and not a full parallel manual count as demanded by some groups.

The decision sparked calls from various groups, including lawyers and business organizations, for street protests.

In a seven-page resolution, the Comelec denied for lack of legal basis the proposal to conduct a parallel manual count in all precincts for the positions of president, vice president, congressmen, governor and mayor.

“After having taken into consideration all the submissions of the various proponents, and after having considered the opinions of those who stand opposed, the Commission concludes that it cannot conduct a full parallel manual count,” the Comelec said.

“The attendant risks to the stability of the electoral system are too grave to be outweighed by the promised benefit of parallel manual count,” the Comelec said.

“Conducting a hand count of the ballots will open up the possibility of errors in tallying, as well as provide an excellent opportunity for the perpetration of fraudulent acts,” the poll body added.

Various groups have been calling on the Comelec to allow a parallel manual count to validate the results of the first automated elections in the country.

“The language employed by the proponents of a full parallel manual count indicates that a mere difference between the results of the hand count and electronic count will be enough to trigger a full manual count of all candidates virtually scrapping the automated election system,” the Comelec said.

The Comelec pointed out candidates might demand the scrapping of precinct count optical scan (PCOS) count and a shift to manual counting and canvassing once a discrepancy is raised.

It added that a full parallel manual count would be extremely vulnerable to error as well as to dagdag-bawas (vote padding-shaving).

James Jimenez, Comelec spokesman, said a mere discrepancy of 10 votes could trigger manual recount and a scrapping of the electronic results of the elections.

“This discrepancy can also be done by anybody by simply smudging the ballots,” Jimenez said.

“More than any consideration of cost and effort, is what makes the commission extremely wary of accepting the proposal for a full parallel manual count,” the Comelec said.

The random manual audit would cover a smaller number or precincts compared to the parallel manual count, which was being planned for 76,340 precincts nationwide.

“The fact that random manual audit takes place in such a relatively small subset means that efforts to safeguard the process from errors and the introduction of fraud will be more effective,” the Comelec said.

At Malacañang, deputy presidential spokesman Gary Olivar said “we agree with the Comelec’s decision.”

“We will expect full and appropriate compliance with it by all parties concerned, and we continue to urge our countrymen to support Comelec and vote based only on what their conscience tells them—the two conditions for a successful and credible election,” he said.

Presidential spokesman Ricardo Saludo said the decision would allow everyone to focus “on getting the automated counting to work.”

“Everybody now can focus on their respective works to see to it that we are well prepared and ready for the first automated election,” deputy presidential spokesman Rogelio Peyuan said.

Bagumbayan presidential bet Sen. Richard Gordon also welcomed the Comelec ruling and lashed out at the Makati Business Club for floating a failure of elections scenario if a parallel manual counting is not carried out.

Protests

“We will join if there will be any protest actions,” Vitalliano Nañagas, Management Association of the Philippines (MAP) vice chair on the national issues committee said in a telephone interview.

“Since the PCOS machines have not been pilot-tested before in an actual election as mandated by law, the risk of the machine making mistakes at the rate higher than that provided for (one mistake out of 20,000), is quite high,” a MAP statement read.

“We are gravely concerned that without such verification of the accuracy of these machines, the election may not be accepted by the people as the true reflection of their will,” it added.

“We are not going to take this sitting down,” MBC executive director Alberto Lim said in a separate interview. “I cannot tell you our next move yet.”

The Alyansa Agrikultura and the Philippine Bar Association (PBA) also appealed to the public to protest the ruling.

“I will protest in the streets. The Comelec is useless,” PBA president Simeon Marcelo said. “They removed the number one safeguard when they eliminated the system that gives the voter a slip of paper confirming who they voted for.”

“They can elevate the matter to the Supreme Court. I will join them if they do that,” Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said. – With Ma. Elisa Osorio, Paolo Romero, Jess Diaz, Aurea Calica, Rainier Allan Ronda, Sheila Crisostomo, Helen Flores, Mike Frialde

‘Hello, Garci’ boys well entrenched for May 10 polls

‘Hello, Garci’ boys well entrenched for May 10 polls
By Aries Rufo
abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak

MANILA, Philippines—The men who worked closely with disgraced former election commissioner Virgilio Garcillano as he rigged the 2004 presidential elections are still well entrenched for the May 10 polls this year.

Together, the so-called “Hello, Garci” Boys control Mindanao, which is home to more than 10 million registered voters.

“Hello, Garci” became a popular phrase to refer to how President Arroyo addressed the commissioner when she was caught on tape asking Garcillano to ensure her a lead of at least 1 million votes over her rival, Fernando Poe Jr.

Except for the high-profile Lintang Bedol, who is in hiding, the Garci Boys are positioned either as regional election directors (RED) or provincial election supervisors (PES).

Easily identifiable is Ray Sumalipao, who has been transferred as RED of Davao Region (Region 11) from his previous post as RED of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Replacing Sumalipao in ARMM is RED Remlane Tambuang.

The influence of the infamous group is intact in ARMM, however, as Renault Macarambon retains his positions as assistant RED (ARED) of ARMM.

Transfers
Sumalipao and Macarambon were Garcillano’s errand boys at the height of the canvassing of the May 2004 of the votes for national positions. At that time, Sumalipao was the chair of the provincial board of canvassers in Lanao del Sur when a Namfrel official there threatened to make an exposé poll fraud.

Arroyo, learning of the threat, called up Garcillano to defuse the tension. “We will try to make him say something. I will tell him to talk without letting the people know that I am the one who will address it,” Garcillano assured the President.

Macarambon, then the vice chair of the Lanao del Sur provicial board of canvassers, was mentioned by Garcillano as the one who was supposed to ensure the victory of a senatorial candidate allied with the administration who was in a neck-and-neck race for the last spot with an opposition candidate.

The cheating attempt, however, was foiled when the opposition candidate went to the area to protect his votes.

A source from the Commission on Elections said that Macarambon might be assigned to Maguindanao as acting PES. The Comelec, however, has yet to release the resolution.

An election lawyer observed that Sumalipao’s transfer from ARMM to Davao Region might have done more damage than good “since this means he has control over a new territory. His men are already in place in ARMM, so removing him from there does not do any good.”

More of them
Another Garci man, Henry Magbutay, is RED of Northern Mindanao (Region 10).

Magbutay’s subordinates include Cirilo Nala Jr., who Comelec sources say is also a Garci follower. Nala is PES of Misamis Occidental.

Magbutay’s voice was caught on tape as the “Boy” who told Garcillano that an election official who knew about the irregularities was in hiding. “Boy” even suggested that they kidnap the concerned Comelec official, but Garcillano rejected the idea.

Another RED who was caught on the Garci tape is Francisco Pobe, who is in command of the CARAGA Region. Pobe, whose nickname is Danny, had called Garcillano asking for results in Cotabato City. Pobe, who was then the PES of Agusan del Sur, was acting on behalf of a senatorial candidate.

Although he was not on tape, Michael Abbas, the current RED of SOCCSKSARGEN (Region 12), is also known as Garcillano protégé who tampered with the votes of Arroyo’s rival, the late Fernando Poe Jr., in Tawi-Tawi during the 2004 race. Abbas was the PES of the province.

Now his coverage includes North Cotabato, Sarangani, South Cotabato, and Sultan Kudarat.

More authority
The ARMM has about 1.88 million registered voters; Northern Mindanao, 2.4 million; Davao Region, 2.55 million; SOCCSKSARGEN, 1.98 million and Caraga, 1.37 million.

Garcillano’s men, in effect, collectively have control over more than 10 million votes.

Separately, they are power brokers in their own right. They are not accountable to any Comelec commissioner at the head office, as the en banc decided that there will be no more commissioners-in-charge (CIC) of regions in the elections this year. In past elections, each commissioner was made in charge of a certain number of regions, exercising control over the regional directors.

A commissioner told abs-cbnnews.com/Newbsreak that Comelec chair Jose Melo “did not like the idea of the commissioner having their own fiefdoms during the elections.”

The CIC system, as practiced in previous elections, allowed the poll official concerned to call the shots and make decisions without consulting the en banc, as an initial remedy to problems that required immediate attention.

However, the CIC system, while it decentralized decision-making, allowed the types of Garcillano to manipulate the elections with ease.

A Comelec source, who is privy to the assignments of poll officials, said that the Garcillano Boys were spared from the disgrace brought by the “Hello, Garci” tape because no one came forward to file a complaint against them.

The Comelec faced a blank wall when it initiated an investigation since there were no complainants and that the evidence—the wiretapped conversations between President Arroyo and Garcillano—linking them to irregularities could not be used as evidence in the first place.

Of the Garci Boys, Bedol was not as lucky after their 2004 adventure. Charges have been filed against him for his participation in the 2007 rigging of Maguindanao votes. (abs-cbnNews.com/Newsbreak)

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