Eric Manalang

Ang Kapatiran accepts ABS-CBN's apology

Ang Kapatiran accepts ABS-CBN’s apology
By Perseus Echeminada
Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Ang Kapatiran Party (AKP) has accepted the letter of apology from television network ABS-CBN for not including its vice presidential bet in the March 21 episode of “Harapan: Vice Presidential Debate” held at La Consolacion College in Manila.

In a letter to AKP president Eric Manalang, Maria Ressa, head of ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs, said it was not their intention to overlook the AKP and they are planning to invite them to other episodes of Harapan as well as other venues for the party’s message to reach the people.

“We assure AKP of our commitment to provide political parties fair time and space during the election period,” Ressa said in her letter, according to the AKP media bureau.

AKP vice presidential bet Dominador Chipeco Jr. said he has accepted the apology of the television network, and stressed that “excellence and fairness are great virtues and forgiveness is no less.”

AKP presidential candidate JC de los Reyes, for his part, said that fairness is among the most essential virtues in society that their party is advocating.

“We fought to uphold it, ABS-CBN rectified their mistake, let’s all move forward to give everybody their due, especially the Filipino people,” he said.

With the letter of apology, the AKP is also set to withdraw its complaint against ABS-CBN before the Commission on Elections for alleged selective coverage, which they claimed is a violation of Republic Act 9006 or the Fair Election Act.

ABS-CBN corporate communications chief Bong Osorio earlier assured the AKP that they will continue the Harapan debate and will include the party in its future episodes.

“Just because they were not included in the earlier episode doesn’t mean they won’t be included in future episodes,” Osorio said

Kapatiran files complaint vs ABS-CBN

Kapatiran files complaint vs ABS-CBN
By Sheila Crisostomo
The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines – The Ang Kapatiran Party (AKP) yesterday sought to penalize the ABS-CBN broadcasting network for alleged discrimination in their coverage of candidates.

AKP president Eric Manalang filed a petition before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) accusing ABS-CBN of violating the Fair Elections Act in discriminating against party vice presidential candidate Dominador Chipeco Jr.

Manalang filed the complaint before Comelec Law Department director Ferdinand Rafanan, pointing out that ABS-CBN deliberately excluded Chipeco from a vice presidential debate they had organized.

“We had noticed that ABS-CBN, during the course of its coverage of our party’s campaign activities for public information, is being selective and at times outright discriminating against the Ang Kapatiran and its candidates,” Manalang said.

Manalang said the AKP was forced to file the complaint following the incident which, he said, resulted in many of their members, candidates and supporters being “disturbed” by the events.

“We take legal action against this continuing unfairness. Some had even lost interest to continue supporting us,” Manalang said.

Manalang submitted a letter addressed to Maria Ressa, managing director of ABS-CBN News Channel, requesting her action on the exclusion of Chipeco in the forum last March 21.

“Our demand for rectification, public correction and a formal reply was ignored. Again we felt discriminated against,” he said.

ABS-CBN corporate communications chief Bong Osorio, on the other hand, said they cannot issue a statement since they have yet to receive a copy of the complaint.

“We have not received a copy of the complaint so we cannot issue any reaction. Rest assured that ABS-CBN will continue the ‘Harapan’ series of debates. Just because they were not included doesn’t mean they won’t be included in the future,” Osorio said.

Earlier, Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL) vice presidential candidate Jay Sonza filed a complaint before the Comelec accusing ABS-CBN of violating the Fair Elections Act (Republic Act 9006) by excluding him from the same debate.

Sonza said he decided to file the complaint because of the refusal of the organizers to include him in the Harapan debate.

He said his exclusion from the debate constitutes a clear violation of the Fair Elections Act. – With Perseus Echeminada

Only quake can stop May polls, says Melo

Only quake can stop May polls, says Melo
By Gil C. Cabacungan Jr.
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The automated election system is so foolproof it can’t be hacked and only a massive earthquake can stop the May 10 balloting, Election Chair Jose Melo said Tuesday.

Melo and Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr., chair of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms, said that it was virtually impossible to cheat electronically in the first nationwide computerized voting.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) chief also gave a “zero percent” possibility of a failure of elections.

“I don’t entertain that idea. If there will be one, it means the Philippines was rocked by an earthquake just like other countries,” he said.

Melo and Locsin visited the Cabuyao, Laguna, warehouse where the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to be used in the polling and the ballots printed by the National Printing Office were stored.

“If I will corrupt the system or hack, I’d be better off just buying the election. So why cheat? If you’ve already spent a lot, just buy the elections and you’re sure to win,” Melo said in an interview after a hearing on the status of the preparations for the elections.

Melo said that even if Sen. Manny Villar had all the money, he could not buy everything. He could not buy out his closest rival and end up being the only candidate.

“That will be a huge amount even if you have the money,” he said.

“I urge candidates who want to cheat, just buy off the voters because you cannot cheat through the machines. The only problem with buying voters is they don’t like to stay bought. Just take the wonderful advice of the saintly and beloved Cardinal Sin, take the money and vote your conscience. I don’t think he should have said that,” Locsin said.

He said candidates should not be fooled by people claiming they could do an “electronic Garci” because it could not be done. “They would be lying,” Locsin said.

The Makati city representative was referring to concerns about the possibility of a vote-padding controversy revealed in wiretapped conversations purportedly between President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano.

Administration critics claim the wiretaps were evidence Ms Arroyo stole the 2004 presidential election, a charge she has denied.

36-digit encryption code

Melo said that Smartmatic used an encryption code containing 36 digits.

“Can you imagine that figure? I can only count to a trillion. You need a big amount of money and lot of time to hack just one PCOS. How can you hack 82,000?” Melo asked.

Locsin said that it was possible that one or three PCOS machines could break down but there were still more than 80,000 units that would be working to guarantee that there would be no nationwide breakdown.

He said the only hitch he could see was a deliberate attempt to sow confusion in the distribution of voter’s list in districts where a certain candidate had a poor chance of winning. He posed this query to the Comelec officials and he was not given a straight answer.

Quezon Rep. Danilo Suarez said that while he was satisfied with the presentation of the poll automation provider and operator, Smartmatic-TIM, he remained skeptical on the speedy transmission of the results.

Suarez pointed out that the three mobile phone service operators had no coverage in 300 far-flung municipalities.

Results in 48 hours

Despite these fears, Melo said that the Comelec was confident that the election results would be known within 48 hours.

The Comelec also does not see any problem with voters registered in at least two different precincts because it expects most of them to vote only once.

Locsin said that the Comelec was virtually helpless in stopping this form of cheating.

“Everybody talks about double voting but these people want to vote only once but not in their district. They do it because they are paid to do it. If you try to go to the court to disenfranchise these voters, it’s hard. A court case can take up to 10 years,” Locsin said.

Melo said that “padded voter’s lists” were not a problem for the Comelec because it believed that a big percentage of the “double registrants” just made a mistake.

“For example, I was registered in San Juan and I went to Quezon City. I did not cancel my San Juan registration but it doesn’t mean I’ll vote in San Juan. Not all double-registrant people are ill-intentioned. A big percentage merely forgot to cancel their old registration,” Melo said.

Safeguards

Melo said the Comelec had put in place several measures to discourage double voting such as the biometrics registration (at least half of voters have their photos and thumbprints in the Comelec databank) and the indelible ink (the Comelec added more nitrate content to make it more difficult to wash off).

But Locsin said these measures would still not solve the problem of buying voters wholesale.

“If you know your district has been heavily voter-padded, you have to go out and bring the undecided voters for you. That’s life and no amount of automatic elections can override a person’s conscience,” Locsin said.

Kapatiran protest

The Ang Kapatiran Party, which if fielding Olongapo City Councilor John Carlos “JC” de los Reyes for president, has asked the Comelec office in San Juan City to investigate reports of double and multiple registrants.

AKP president Eric Manalang told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that in the 2007 elections, San Juan had 72,070 registered voters.

Since registration of new voters ended on Oct. 31 last year, the number had swelled to between 170,000 and 200,000, he said.

“This contradicts reports we have received from local officials that San Juan’s population is currently declining,” Manalang said.

San Juan is the only part of Metro Manila where AKP is fielding a mayoral candidate, Glenn Angeles. With a report from Jerome Aning