Before his retirement, Commission on Elections Chairman had assured the Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms that he would inhibit himself from voting on preparations for the 2016 elections and allow his successor to do so.
Sen. Koko Pimentel, the panel chairman, was justifiably irked that Brilliantes reneged on this promise and voted for what Pimentel called a “midnight deal” – the P300-million negotiated contract of the Commission on Elections with Smartmatic-Total Information Management to conduct examinations, diagnostics and repairs of some 82,000 precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines. For doing the actual refurbishing and repair work, which will be determined only after the diagnostics, Comelec, I understand, would have to pay a much larger amount to Smartmatic which could run to a billion pesos.
Pimentel and many tech-savvy people moan in utter disbelief why the Comelec is so enamored with Smartmatic and PCOS despite questions by experts. Brillantes told the House and Senate committees on electoral reforms that Comelec wanted to replace the old PCOS machines supplied by Smartmatic. Yet, the “new” machines will still be PCOS, with the same technology.
I don’t have the expertise to detail the questions on the reliability of the PCOS machines. However, I do know that the Comelec under Brillantes had ignored the requirements of the law on automated elections and shrugged off all complaints from what he called “trouble-makers.” I also know that the past two elections had many unbelievable results. Unfortunately, the absence of paper trail in the technology has made election protests shots at the moon.
There had been charges that it has been easier to manipulate the results of the elections through the PCOS. Voting might be a little faster, and also counting which happens inside the PCOS machines unseen by anybody, but transmission of the results isn’t. What’s more, there’s no assurance that what’s transmitted is the actual vote count. Sen. Grace Poe may have won but I remain incredulous that she was No. 1 in 2013. I also wonder if Cagayan Rep. Jackie Enrile was a victim of poll cheating.
Comelec seems hell-bent on pushing through with the PCOS-technology at the expense of the true mandate of the people. If this goes on, there’ll come a time when campaigning will be useless. All that a candidate has to do is buy operators who could manipulate the results. We shouldn’t allow this to happen. All past candidates and their followers who felt they were cheated, all who agree with computer experts in questioning PCOS, all who want only popularly elected candidates to be proclaimed winners can prevent this dire situation from happening by joining the OCCUPY COMELEC movement.
The Media Relations Service of the House reported that Rep. EstrellitaSuansing of the First District of Nueva Ecija has filed a bill seeking to declare the Central Luzon State University as a National (Prime) Agricultural University.
The measure requires the CLSU to develop advanced research and development centers in areas where the university has the proven expertise and track record like in agriculture, fisheries, agricultural engineering, veterinary medicine, Biology and Teacher Education.
The bill of Suansing is laudable as it seeks to enhance the already leading role of CLSU in R&D. There’s one thing wrong with the bill though: CLSU isn’t within her district. The Science City of Munoz, which hosts CLSU, is in the district of Rep. Joseph Violago, who isn’t even named as a principal author of the bill.
A congressman generally feels insulted if a colleague from another district files a bill pertaining to his district. Why, can’t he take care of his own district? I remember the time in the Eighth Congress when then Rep. Rodrigo Gutang of North Cotabato filed a bill that sought to benefit a town in the district of then Rep. Michael Mastura of Maguindanao. Mike (he’s now with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front) gave a blistering privilege speech where he said that his first instinct upon reading the bill of Gutang was to grab an Armalite rifle and empty its bullets at Gutang, a retired major general in the Army and former chief of the Central Mindanao Command. A red-faced Gutang apologized profusely to Mastura and withdrew his well-intentioned but ill-conceived bill.
No, I don’t think Congressman Violago will react to Suansing’s bill the way Mike Mastura did to Gutang’s. BTW, Violago’s district includes my hometown, Lupao, Nueva Ecija. He has done a lot of projects in the district, including Barangay Mapangpang where I live. Definitely, he can handle our district. Oh yes, he had earlier planned to run for governor as he’s now on his third term in the House. He gave it up, however, when Gov. Oyie Umali decided to field his wife, Rep. Cherry Umali, for governor in the 2016 elections.