SENATOR Aquilino Pimentel 3rd on Friday warned the Commission on Elections (Comelec) of automated cheating if it will not heed the call of a coalition calling for credible 2016 elections.
Pimentel particularly cited review of the source code, one of the security features required by Republic Act 939 or the Automated Election Law.
“I talked to Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista and asked him to provide my office of their plans on how to prevent cheating, including the technical ones like the source code review,” said the chairman of the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms and People’s Participation.
He was a guest at the Bantay Boto forum arranged by political science students of De La Salle University on Taft Avenue, Manila.
Bautista, also a guest at the forum, said he is not against the review of the source code.
“In fact, the review has been going on right here at De La Salle,” he added.
Begun one month ago, the review is attended by several concerned individuals and groups.
In the 2010 and 2013 elections, source code reviews were held one month and one week before the polls, respectively.
Pimentel, a victim of electoral fraud in the 2007 polls, reminded Bautista to send him the Comelec position on how to prevent cheating through use of PCOS (Precinct Count Optical Scan) machines that will help manipulate results to favor a particular candidate or group of candidates.
“We [have]sent to him our study and proposals. I will ask again our staff when [the materials were]sent,” Bautista said.
Also present at the forum were Smartmatic officials Karen Jimeno and Robert Dobler, vice president for Asia Pacific, who refused to entertain questions from The Manila Times.
Smartmatic won the contract for automation of the 2010 and 2013 elections, deploying the PCOS machines to carry out the process.
Pimentel said the 2016 election fraud will be effected through tampering with the PCOS machines and vote-buying.
“We have to watch these venues of poll fraud. The Comelec must convince that the PCOS machines are not programmed to favor any group or individual. Make the machine operation transparent,” he added.
“As to vote-buying, we have to convince the candidates not to resort to it. Young voters must be at the frontline in securing that there is no vote-buying. You can start it with yourselves. Refuse selling your votes and report to authorities those who will and are doing it” Pimentel said.
Meanwhile, the Comelec chief said he is seriously considering holding voting in select malls.
But Pimentel said he is against allowing precincts to be put up in malls, adding that it is against the law.
“If they insist, I will question it before a court,” the senator added.
Bautista said the holding polls inside malls is not new.
“We used it in the 2013 mid-term polls for senior citizens and people with disabilities (PWDs). We allowed it during the 2013 barangay [village]elections” he added.
The Reform Philippines Coalition (RPC), a broad alliance of Catholic prelates, lawyers and former and active officials of the military, police and government agencies, is urging the poll body to restore the source code as well as the ballot verification or ultra violet detectors, the voter verified paper audit trail and the digital signature that were removed or diluted during the 2010 and 2013 elections.
The RPC believed that the absence of the four features will make the 2016 poll exercise useless and even worse than the past two elections.
Glenn Chong, spokesman for RPC, said cheating in the 2010 polls was traced to pre-loaded CF (compact flash) cards that benefited local and national bets.
Manipulation of the 2013 elections, he added, was evident in the “60-30-10” scheme where 60 percent of the votes were distributed to candidates of the administration Liberal Party, 30 percent to the opposition United Nationalist Alliance and 10 percent to independent candidates.
Bautista evaded questions of reporters regarding how the poll body will prevent vote- buying.
He instead discussed social media, which he claimed will be a game changer that will ensure election transparency.
The millennials, 18 to 34 years old, make up 37 percent or 20 million of the 54 registered voters.