manual count

Running priest to go on hunger strike, hits Church's ‘pro-admin stance’

Running priest to go on hunger strike, hits Church’s ‘pro-admin stance’
NIKKA CORSINO
GMANews.TV

Catholic priest Father Robert Reyes, who has gained a reputation for running to advocate causes he believes in, will not run this time but refuse food, as he decried the pro-administration stand of a ranking Church official who rejected people power if the May 10 elections fail.

Fr. Reyes on Wednesday announced he would go on a hunger strike from 10 a.m. on May 8 to 10 a.m on Election Day “to appeal to the Comelec for a credible elections,” in the wake of increasing public concern caused by the failure of counting machines in field tests this week.

At the same time, the “running priest” chided the Catholic church for following what he called “the Malacañang line.”

Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales on Sunday rejected the possibility of a people power uprising if the May 10 election fails or is tainted by massive cheating, dismissing such calls as irresponsible and “crazy, crazy, crazy.” (See: Cardinal Rosales rejects people power if elections fail)

“Many Catholic churches are badly compromised, kaya hindi na kailangang mag-dalawang isip kung ano ang ibig sabihin ni Cardinal Rosales noong isang araw na hindi siya magtatawag ng People Power (so they didn’t need to think twice about what Cardinal Rosales meant the other day about not calling for People Power). That is definitely the Malacañang line. Unfortunately, the Church has become the mouthpiece of this administration,” the running priest told reporters.

Reyes also joined the call for a manual count by the Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM) led by lawyer Harry Roque, who had accused Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales of planning a military junta in case of a failure of elections. (See: Lawyer condemns Gonzales’ plan to effect ‘transitional junta’)

“The moral scandal here is that she [Macapagal-Arroyo] will stay in power. This is the worst thing that could ever happen to us. It is like a priest telling us, ipagpatuloy mo ang kasalanan mo, basta ‘wag kang papahuli, tayong dalawa lang ang nakakaalam (continue your sinning, just don’t get caught, only the two of us will know),” Reyes said.

“Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is a public sinner. She should not even be allowed to receive communion, but she receives communion from all the bishops,” Reyes lamented.

Despite Cardinal Rosales’ rejection of people power, Reyes urged the rest of the Catholic Church to take a ‘pro-people’ stand.

Ito ang malungkot, walang posisyon ang simbahang Katoliko (This is so sad, the Catholic church not having a position). And even if I risk being excommunicated, I’d like to ask the bishops to [abandon their] political loyalties to a corrupt and immoral president and decide in favor of democracy and our people.”

Reyes joined the CCM’s calls to take protests to the streets in case of a failure of elections.

“We’re reaching a point where people have to take a stand. If our institutions are all badly compromised, people should go out to the streets. Prepare for people power and let us save this country from irrelevant and compromised leadership,” the outspoken priest added.—JV, GMANews.TV

Comelec says automation may fail, but not polls

Comelec says automation may fail, but not polls
By Ryan Chua
ABS-CBN News

MANILA, Philippines – The clock is ticking for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to finish preparations for the country’s first automated polls.

Many fear the elections will end up in chaos and failure.

But the Comelec has tried to assure voters that the elections will proceed smoothly.

Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said the elections will not fail, insisting that the poll body has a back-up plan in case the machines bog down.

The Comelec said if the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines conk out, there are almost 6,000 spare machines that can be used.

This was what the poll body did when 2 machines malfunctioned in the Overseas Absentee Voting (OAV) in Hong Kong over the weekend.

If the Comelec runs out of spare machines, Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) can transfer the compact flash card of the PCOS to another machine where the votes will be counted.

In case of a problem in transmission, the SIM cards of the modem can be interchanged, a satellite facility can be used or the compact flash card containing the election results can be brought to the canvassing center.

If all these contingency measures fail, the Comelec said the votes can still be counted manually.

Forms for manual elections are being printed in case automation fails in some parts of the country.

Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said they are prepared for a 30% failure of poll automation by resorting to manual elections.

The Comelec added that the National Printing Office is about to complete printing the 50 million ballots needed for election day.

As of posting time, only around 7 million ballots have yet to be printed.

Failure of automation, not failure of elections, the Comelec said, is the worst that can happen to this year’s polls.

And even if it happens, the poll body assures the country it will eventually have a new set of leaders.

Perlas calls for three-month postponement of automated elections

Perlas calls for three-month postponement of automated elections
CARMELA G. LAPEÑA
GMANews.TV

Independent presidential candidate Nicanor Perlas and the Partido ng Marangal na Sambayanan (PANGMASA) called for a postponement of the national elections by three months during the presidential forum of Listen Mindanao at the Holy Cross University in Davao City this morning.

Perlas who raised the strong possibility of an ‘electronic Garci’ two months ago, said that there is “no way of determining the real winners of the automated election within 48 hours as the Comelec announced.”

“The way things are being handled by the Comelec, the automated system will be the black hole of the election. Pushing through with the May 10 elections will just further plunge the country into chaos that is potentially violent,” he said.

Perlas cited Comelec’s admission that an estimated 30 percent of the machines may fail to proceed, resulting in a manual count.

He also mentioned that the Comelec admitted in a forum that the winners will not be known within 48 hours due to the sheer number of candidates.

He added that absentee voting in Hongkong recently was marred by a malfunctioning machine that jammed and rejected ballots and that there is likewise a call for the review of the indelible ink contract and bidding process.

Section 5 of the Omnibus Election Code and Rule 26 of Comelec’s Rules of Procedure allow the postponement of election for serious causes that prevent the holding of a free, orderly, honest, peaceful and credible election.

“But this is not going to happen the way Comelec’s preparations are going. The system is too complex. There are too many loopholes and too many changes even now with elections just three weeks away, that the electorate is not assured of a free, orderly and honest election,” added Perlas.

Perlas in various presidential fora had earlier issued the warning of a repeat of the Garci scenario.

“The probability is increasing every day for cheating facilitated by electronic devices. What will happen is that there may be an election but there will be failure of election,” he stated.

To avert such a failure, Perlas had proposed a manual count fall back option in a hybrid balloting, stating that even Germany and the Netherlands had scrapped automated elections after discovering that a high school student could hack the voting machines.

Perlas is holding nationwide consultation and discussion with his supporters for possible actions in a failure of elections scenario. – GMANews.TV

Garci’s ghost haunts techies

Garci’s ghost haunts techies
By Kristine L. Alave, Norman Bordadora
Philippine Daily Inquirer

MANILA, Philippines—The specters of “Garci” and glitches are fueling urgent calls for hybrid elections.

Information technology professionals fearing hiccups in the automated election system (AES) on May 10 have pressed demands for a parallel manual count.

They said that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) should consider a manual count after the electronic transmission of results to various canvassing centers and before the proclamation of any candidate.

Maria Cristina Coronel, president of the Philippine Software Industry Association, said that the partial manual count for the presidential, vice presidential and the mayoral races could be done by the board of election inspectors (BEI).

“Unless we do a full count at all precincts, of at least the top two positions, we cannot say with confidence that the coming elections in May will be free of any form of cheating,” Coronel said in a press briefing sponsored by the Movement for Good Governance.

Ex-President Joseph Estrada’s Puwersa ng Masang Pilipino (PMP) also has asked the Comelec to conduct a parallel manual count after two out of 20 counting machines in absentee voting in Hong Kong failed over the weekend.

“That’s a 10-percent failure rate, which is definitely not acceptable,” said PMP senatorial candidate Jose de Venecia III, an information technology businessman and the PMP’s spokesperson on automated election concerns.

“The Comelec has no choice but to conduct a parallel manual count on all precincts nationwide,” he said.

De Venecia said that with the expected failure of at least 10 percent of the more than 70,000 counting machines on May 10, “the results of the elections at the national level will all be contestable.”

Coronel said the manual count would not pose a heavy financial burden. It would not also delay the announcement of results and would discourage losing politicians from thinking that the machines were rigged.

Time, motion study

She noted that a time and motion study had revealed that it would only take three hours for a precinct with 500 voters and five hours for a precinct with 1,000 voters to do the manual tally.

About 50 million Filipinos have registered to vote in the 76,000 precincts using counting machines that would tabulate and transmit results electronically.

Ma. Corazon Akol, president of the Philippine National IT Standards Foundation, said the use of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines did not guarantee that the elections would be free of fraud.

Akol said the compact flash cards could contain commands that could manipulate the results.

Gus Lagman, convenor of the transparentelections.org, also warned against high-tech cheating. He said that lack of system transparency could allow a government insider to rig the election. He added that the automated system was not fail-safe.

The specter of an electronic “Garci” is real under the electronic balloting system using state-of-the-art programs, Lagman said, referring to former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano.

Garcillano allegedly manipulated results in the 2004 election to favor President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo with the help of military generals in Maguindanao province. She has denied the charge.

Selected massive cheating

“Our concern today is more focused on the high probability of massive cheating in selected areas involving national, local and even party-list elections,” Lagman said.

AES Watch, a consortium of poll watchdog groups from the church and the civil society, urged the Comelec to hold another mock elections and install large video projectors that will show real-time tallies.

The group also supported calls pushing the Comelec to allow independent third-parties to conduct a random manual audit of ballots from at least 1,500 ballots before the announcement of winners.

AES Watch said in a letter to Comelec Chair Jose Melo that these measures could be costly but that it was a small price to pay to ensure “trouble-free and credible elections.”

The group noted that the projectors, the manual audit, and the mock elections a day before the actual polls would make the detection of the printed and the transmitted election results easier.

The Comelec has yet to decide on whether to hold the random manual audit of votes, which is mandated by law, before or after the proclamation of the candidates.

Melo has said he favors the post-proclamation audit so as not to delay the results and defeat the purpose of computerized balloting.

The Comelec says that in the automated balloting, results for the local races will be known in 12 hours after the voting, while national contest winners can be proclaimed within two to three days.

PMP vice presidential candidate and Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay also urged the Comelec to take note of the delays caused by faulty PCOS machines in Hong Kong and prepare contingency measures.

“The weather conditions in Hong Kong and the Philippines are different. But so is the situation for voting. Such delays can be accommodated during absentee voting, but we do not have such luxury on May 10. They are given several days to cast their ballots so should they fail, they can try again. Here, we only have one day,” Binay said.