THE staggering difference of “otso-otso” (88) between the PCOS count (i.e. 278) and physical count (i.e. 366) for the votes of senatorial candidate Eduardo Villanueva (Bro. Eddie) at Precinct 19 of Barangay Concepcion, General Tinio, Nueva Ecija in the 2013 elections was finally revealed during the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee (JCOC) hearing on August 28, 2014 at the Senate (http://www.manilatimes.net/time-change-secret-voting-public-counting-svpc-instead-pcos/118526/).
The record showed that for said precinct, 202 ballots were unused, PCOS scanned 665 ballots vis-a-vis physical count of 664 and that the PCOS failed to transmit the election results to the municipal/city board of canvassers or M/CBOC (https://www.facebook.com/njcelis/media_set?set=a.10152648044166661.1073741926.546351660&type=1). In this regard, the JCOC, presided by Sen. Koko Pimentel and Cong. Senen Sarmiento, gave Comelec and the petitioners ten days to reconcile the discrepancy with the decrypted ballot images too.
The theory Chairman Brillantes expounded during the first JCOC meeting on August 14, 2014 was that the inconsistency was possible due to the appreciation of overvotes in the court’s manual count of Villanueva’s votes. He was somehow correct when the overvotes noted in the physical count was 13. However, the overvotes observed in those ballots were ovals that were either marked with slash sign or encircled. But the fact remains unchanged that “otso-otso” is a BIG difference between the automated and manual counts considering that only one precinct was reviewed. Because of the huge discrepancy, he has offered another theory stating that the ballots were tampered. OMG! How could the followers of Bro. Eddie tamper with the ballots when the ballot boxes are under the Comelec’s control?
Atty. Anicia Marquez, who led Bro. Eddie’s followers in the petition to do a recount, countered Brillantes’ second theory by saying that the CF cards are the ones that can be tampered with. She based it on my statement in the said hearing that those cards are rewritable. I shared with the JCOC that Smartmatic did not conform with the Terms of Reference of the Comelec 2009 bidding. Smartmatic should have delivered Write-Once-Read-Many (WORM) cards and not CF cards. Once the WORM card is written with election results, the data therein cannot be changed anymore. Commissioner Christian Lim followed up and said to JCOC that WORM cards for PCOS machines are indicated in the Request for Proposal (RFP). Now that JCOC learned about these rewritable CF cards, I heard so much noise on the floor that Smartmatic would be facing new legal cases.
It was a surprise to many attendees in the JCOC hearing that Smartmatic did not comply with that crucial bidding requirement. And such great mistake was not even corrected in the 2013 elections. Worse, Smartmatic got away from any legal impediments in spite of constant prodding of AES Watch to Comelec about it. Surprisingly, the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC) and even the Technical Evaluation Committee (TEC) have not seen this mystery yet. The CAC and TEC are headed by the officials from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and they should have detected such problem during the test certifications of the PCOS machines in 2010.
Will DOST take an action against Smartmatic? AES Watch is requesting the attention of Sec. Mario Montejo, to kindly advise USec Louis Casambre, CAC chair, and Director Denis Villorente, TEC Chair, to investigate this WORM anomaly. On the other hand, Comelec may take its own legal initiative for the non-compliance of Smartmatic with the RFP.
In another mystery, Comelec was blaming the telcos (i.e., PLDT, Globe, etc.) last year for the anomaly that only 76% of the PCOS machines were able to successfully transmit and the 24% clustered precincts (i.e. 18 million votes approximately) handed over their respective CF cards to the M/CBOCs. But the telco representatives said in the JCOC hearing, and even in last year’s media interviews, that their facilities were 100% available. Telcos said that PCOS data is relatively small and would not create heavy traffic or pose any cellular network problems. Besides, they provided a dedicated virtual private network not mixed with regular data and voice traffic. The telcos elaborated that they provided the SIM cards to Smartmatic and the latter distributed these cards nationwide. This could be the crux of the matter as only Smartmatic knew what SIM card number operated with a particular precinct.
So what’s the fuzz about the 76%? What could have happened during the time when the CF cards of the 24% were delivered from the precincts to the M/CBOCs? Since CF cards are rewriteable, there’s a high probability that the data therein could have been tampered as highlighted by Atty. Marquez in the hearing.
Thus, the mystery behind the numbers 88 and 76% are directly related to the non-implementation of WORM cards and mismanagement of Smartmatic in controlling the transmission.
In 2016, the project management should NOT be handled by the technology provider. An independent and professional group should be tapped by Comelec.