• ‘Magic 6’ proclaimed

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    Philippine Commission on Elections (COMELEC) chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. (3rd L) gestures with Francis Escudero (L), Grace Poe (2nd L), Loren Legarda (3rd R), Alan Peter Cayetano (2nd R), and Sonny Angara (R), declared senators-elect  by the Philippine Commission on Elections as some of the winners of the May 13 polls for 12 posts in the 24-seat Philippine Senate, in Manila on May 16, 2013.  AFP PHOTO / Jay DIRECTO

    Philippine Commission on Elections (COMELEC) chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. (3rd L) gestures with Francis Escudero (L), Grace Poe (2nd L), Loren Legarda (3rd R), Alan Peter Cayetano (2nd R), and Sonny Angara (R), declared senators-elect by the Philippine Commission on Elections as some of the winners of the May 13 polls for 12 posts in the 24-seat Philippine Senate, in Manila on May 16, 2013. AFP PHOTO / Jay DIRECTO

    The six leading candidates in the senatorial race were proclaimed by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) Thursday night, and the six other winners might be proclaimed today.

    The Comelec went ahead with the partial proclamation at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) Forum in Pasay City after rejecting a petition by the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) to delay the proceedings.

    Proclaimed were Grace Poe, Loren Legarda, Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero, Nancy Binay and Juan Edgardo Angara.

    Except for Binay, who is from UNA, all the candidates were from Team PNoy. She did not attend the proclamation.

    Based on the latest tally from 72 COCs as of 5:09 p.m., Poe was still in the top spot with 6,978,111 votes. Legarda had 6,405,625, Cayetano, 5,989,369; Escudero, 5,944,573, Binay, 5,787,423 and Angara, 5,593,601.

    Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. said the poll body might proclaim the other winners today.

    Waiting their turn are Liberal Party’s Bam Aquino with 5,255,177 votes; Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd, 5, 186,529; Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th, 4,968,187; Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito Estrada, 4,939,197, Cynthia Villar, 4,833,722 and Sen. Gringo Honasan, 4,667,276.

    In 13th to 15th places were UNA’s Richard Gordon with 4,479,287; Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri, 4,164,541; and Jack Enrile, 4,125,323.

    UNA wanted to delay the proclamation until all issues with regard to the delays in the transmission of election results from the field had been resolved.

    UNA Secretary General and Navotas Rep. Toby Tiangco earlier said they want Comelec and technology provider Smartmatic to explain the delay in the transmission of election results, which halted the transparency server at just 69 percent 24 hours after the polls closed on May 13.

    UNA suspected there was something irregular because the transmission rate was much slower than the 80 percent transmission achieved just five hours after the elections closed in 2010.

    Tiangco was also concerned that the transmission from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM)—a known administration bailiwick—was a mere 20 percent.

    UNA likewise questioned the “inadvertent” deletion of a file in the Comelec transparency server by a Smartmatic technician.

    Junked
    But the poll body, sitting as National Board of Canvassers (NBOC), suspended its session for 30 minutes to deliberate on the motion of UNA, after which it announced it was rejecting it.

    The Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines transmit the results of the vote count to the city board of canvassers or municipal board of canvassers, the Comelec central server and the Comelec transparency server at the Pope Pius Command Center.

    Dominant political parties such as Team PNoy and UNA and the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) are hooked up to the transparency server.

    Brillantes had attributed the delay in the transmission of election results to bad telecommunications signals in far areas.

    They said the proclamation of some winners in local races was also delayed because the vote count was too close.

    Sudden
    UNA stalwarts noted that the slowdown in the transmission and the supposed accidental deletion of the “regional file” happened so suddenly.

    Tiangco insisted that Comelec should have the incidents investigated and that it should come up with an explanation.

    “We don’t want to be the one to cast doubts on the result of the elections, we just want an explanation,” he said.

    Tiangco noted that since the Comelec is in charge of all election matters, it should be made to explain why the transmission of votes is slower compared to the transmission during the 2010 polls wherein 80 percent of the votes were transmitted five hours after the elections.

    “In 2013, only 69 percent of votes where transmitted within 48 hours. This Despite of the fact that today’s technology is much better compared in 2010,” he emphasized.

    The opposition also wanted the Commission to look into the incident involving Smartmatic’s database analyst Cerino Datoy, who “inadvertently” activated a program in the server that resulted in the deletion of a regional file, containing the votes of senatorial and party-list candidates.

    Gadburt Mercado, one of UNA’s information technology (IT) consultants, said on May 14, a day after the election, they noticed that a modification was made in database transparency server which can only be done though manual intervention.

    They found out later that the deleted file was a “regional file.”

    Mercado, who was UNA’s authorized IT personnel to enter the Transparency Server Room (TSR) and receive data from the Transparency Server, said although the file was not necessary in determining the actual number of votes cast, it proved that someone was able to tinker with the server without the poll body’s knowledge.

    Probe
    Tiangco said the Comelec should have investigated the incident to find out if there were violations on the part of Smartmatic.

    “Comelec should answer if there are protocols broken with what Smartmatic did,” he added.

    “The integrity of the mid-term elections is at stake here. We cannot compromise this in the interest of expediency when valid questions are being raised and demand an answer from the Comelec,” Tiangco added.

    Tiangco also said he sees no reason for the poll body to rush the proclamation since there are still at least eight million votes that have to be canvassed.

    In the local race, Tiangco said, the Comelec refused to make a proclamation until 100 percent of the votes have been counted. He said the same process should be followed in the senatorial race.

    “How can we be certain that the results being used as the basis for the proclamation are accurate in light of these very disturbing developments that cast suspicion on the outcome of the polls?” he asked.

    Credible
    Despite the transmission delays, Malacañang maintained that the country’s second automated elections was “credible.”

    “What we are concerned with certainly is that there will be no issue on the credibility of the elections,” Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

    Lacierda expressed confidence that the Comelec would be able to address concerns regarding the proclamation of the winners “as soon as possible.”

    “This is just a lag of transmission. The Comelec has already explained the process, has already explained the ways they will be able to ensure that the votes will be properly counted. The Comelec has prepared itself in the conduct of the elections, and I think there has been a general assessment that the elections have been very credible. Compared to previous elections, it has been very orderly,” he added

    Lacierda said the Comelec should also respond to speculations on the manipulation of election results.

    With a report from Catherine Valente

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