• Comelec faces new raps over safety nets

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    The Commission on Election (Comelec) will be facing fresh charges before the Office of the Ombudsman over alleged lack of safety nets in the May 2013 elections.

    The Tanggulang Demokrasya (Tandem) and Bagumbayan charged on Thursday before the anti-graft agency incumbent Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. and commissioners Christian Robert Lim, Lucenito Tagle, Elias Yusoph, and Grace Padaca.

    The poll commission allegedly violated the Automated Election Law in related to the Omnibus Election Code when they scrapped five safety measures to secure the polls: the review of the source code, the digital signature, the voter verification, the paper trail audit, and errors in the random manual audit

    Former poll Chairman Jose Melo and commissioners Nico-demo Ferrer, Armando Velasco, Rene Sarmiento and Gregorio Larazabal are also named defendant, as well as, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting chief Henrietta de Villa.

    Private individuals from Smartmatic Corp. are also indicted, among them, Antonio Mugica, Cesar Flores, Jose Mari Antuñez, Juan Villa Jr., Salvador Aque, and Nilo Cruz.

    In a 20-page complaint-affidavit, Evelyn Kilayko and Teresita Baltazar of Tandem and Leon Herrera of Bagumbayan said that the commissions of Melo and Brillantes issued Resolutions 8786 and 9640 in their respective tenures to disable the digital signature of the elections.

    “The disablement of the digital signatures left the system wide open to tampering, hacking or network intrusion,” the complaint read.

    The Comelec also failed to allow political parties and candidates to examine and test source codes even if the Supreme Court (SC) ordered Comelec to open the source for scrutiny but the “Brillantes Comelec refuses.”

    “Brillantes and his other co-respondent Comelec commissioners . . . criminally and brazenly continued to defy and violate the law even after the SC itself directed them to allow Bagumbayan to review the code,” the complaint stated.

    The two resolutions of Melo and Brillantes commissions also prevented the vote verification function.

    Instead of showing that a voter’s cast was actually read and recorded, the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines only displayed: “Congratulations. Your vote has been registered.”

    “The mere ‘congratulatory’ message does not ensure that the votes were actually counted, especially where a doubtful source code devoid of review was inserted to the PCOS machine,” the complainants said.

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