• Premeditated pattern of deception!

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    The Supreme Court (SC) has finally put an end to the non-compliance of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in implementing one of the safeguards stipulated in the Automated Election System (AES) Law or RA 9369 during the oral argument on March 17, 2016; that is, the printing of the Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) or Voter’s Receipt (VR). The SC ruled, 13-0, in favor of the petition of former Sen. Richard Gordon, Chairman of Bagumbayan – Volunteers for a New Philippines, Inc., and it ordered the Comelec to enable the VVPAT feature of the Vote Counting Machines in accordance with the minimum system capabilities stipulated in Sections 6(e), (f) and (n) of Republic Act No. 9369; to wit:

    (e) Provision for voter verified paper audit trail;

    (f) System auditability which provides supporting documentation for verifying the correctness of reported election results; and,

    (n) Provide the voter a system of verification to find out whether or not the machine has registered his choice.

    In the petition of Sen. Gordon, who is the principal sponsor and author of the AES law, he called the Comelec a “recidivist” in violating the AES Law as it removed every safeguards of the AES like source code review, digital signatures of the Board of Canvassers and Board of Election Inspectors, VVPAT, ultraviolet scanning of the ballots, and random manual audit. In 2009, months before the 2010 elections, AES Watch and other election watchdogs raised these safeguards to Comelec as very critical risks if not implemented. Unfortunately, these merely fell on deaf ears!

    Let’s recall the decision of SC on March 8, 2016 wherein Comelec was given a non-extendible period of five days (5) days to comment on Sen. Gordon’s petition. Instead of complying with SC’s order, Comelec iled a motion to extend the five-day period but the SC did not grant it. So Comelec thought of enabling the screen verification of the VCM as ubstitute to VVPAT. But such move is not mandated in the AES law. Then Comelec raised fears of the possibility of a no-election scenario, failure of elections and even postponement of elections if VVPAT will be printed due to long voting period of twenty (20) hours or more, delay in the preparation of elections due to reconfiguration of SD cards, and other reasons. Comelec became a doomsayer in this regard. It’s a twist of fate as former Comelec Chairman Brillantes used to damn AES Watch as doomsayers! After some deliberation, the SC eventually set the oral argument on March 17 about the appeal over the VVPAT.

    Before the start of the oral argument, there were murmurs buzzing around why PPCRV Chairman Henrietta de Villa was seated in the reserved area of the respondent Comelec. Ms. Elena San Agustin of Tanggulang Demokrasya (TANDEM) approached her and asked, “Why are you seated there?” Ooops!

    At the start of the oral argument, there was pure silence when Solicitor General Florin Hilbay read his opening argument. Then we got all stunned when Sen. Gordon delivered his “Now you see, now you don’t” opening argument extemporaneously without “codigo.” Sen. Gordon called it “Now you see” scenario when Comelec was demonstrating the VCM publicly with the printing of VR. Conversely, he called “Now you don’t” scenario when Comelec announced in the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on February 16, 2016 that no VVPAT would be printed. He repeatedly said “Now you see, now you don’t” several times to stress the point.

    Here’s the most interesting part of the oral argument when the counsel of Sen. Gordon, Atty. Rodolfo Reyes, highlighted the Comelec’s continuous, deliberate and unabated pattern of deception, to wit:

    • Comelec bids out the automated voting system on the basis of the requirements of law, and purchases/leases the equipment accordingly;

    • Comelec conducts public demonstrations using the machine with all the security features, leading the public to believe it is compliant with the law;

    • Comelec officials then surreptitiously agree among themselves not to enable the security features of the machine;

    • A few weeks before the elections, Comelec makes formal announcements or issues General Instructions disabling the security features; and,

    • When someone complains, they claim it’s too late to do anything or engage in fear mongering that the elections will be postponed if they follow the law.

    Atty. Reyes further elucidated that there’s ample time to enable the VVPAT, he made this clear by showing a timeline. He argued that Comelec was able to reconfigure the 76,000 CF cards recalled in 2010 elections in less than a week. Do you still remember that the PCOS machines failed to count correctly during the final testing and sealing on May 3, 2010, a week before the elections?

    Further, Atty. Glenn Chong, a resource person of Sen. Gordon, explained to the justices that Comelec’s computation of twenty (20) hours voting period was incorrect. Atty. Chong refuted that Comelec added in their computation those activities not part of the voting process like start of voting, closure and transmission, etc. Hence, he said that the voting period would only last for 12 hours and not otherwise. That only goes to show how unreasonable Comelec has been even in doing arithmetic. Atty. Chong concluded by saying that the best solution when a voter yanks the VR is to use a simple pair of scissors. Simple! The conversation between Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Atty. Chong may be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TIDPMMBhPc&feature=youtube

    The final decision of the SC was a vindication of all election watchdogs except for one! The SC argued that the AES law needs no further interpretation as it is very clear that VVPAT is mandated therein.

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    12 Comments

    1. The DeVil in PPCRV is not sensitive and it’s a typical characteristic of a dubious person! Ask the former officers why they all resigned when the DeVil made former Commissioner Goyo part of PPCRV team.The DeVil should go to the confessional box and repent.

    2. Let us not forget that Comelec Chairman Andy Bautista came from the Presidential Commission on Good Government so he should know good governance which he is applying in the Comelec. Ha Ha. How many cases has the PCGG lost in the courts because of their sequestering of allegedly stolen properties or mishandling of sequestered properties? Reminds me of another pillar of the anti-martial law group Sen Jovito Salonga.who was also PCGG Chair during the trial of Mrs Marcos in New York. He was announcing all over that he has evidence against Mrs Marcos and will testify for the prosecution during the trial. The much hyped testimony of the late Sen JS did not happen. The talk going around that time was Atty Spence, the lead lawyer of Mrs Marcos told him that if he testifies against Mrs Marcos Atty Spence will call him to the witness stand and ask him if he has real estate properties in the U.S.. Atty Spence also told him that he has copies of the titles of his real properties in the U.S. The testimony of the late Sen Salonga did not materialize because he alleged that his documents were stolen when he left them somewhere. So let us not take the word of former PCGG Chairmen as truth because in fact they are very faces of partisan politics. I need not add that at the time Sen JS was the Chair of the PCGG the talk going around was if one who has problems with the PCGG will get his son Esteban Salonga as his counsel one gets a very good decision from the PCGG.

    3. The Supreme Court is finally getting their acts together in this case after noynoying for the past 2 elections. It is a wonder that the SC is now paying attention closely to the matter of Sen. Gordon’s case against the Comelec under Andy Bautista when they were very silent when a Sixto Brillantes, ex Comelec chair was able to do all the illegal decisions done to make Smartmatic and the Comelec happy during the 2010 and 2013 election by not following new election laws.

      • Sixto Brillantes, a lawbreaker, had been able to go around the law authored by Sen. Gordon because nobody had the resolve to challenge the Comelec then and allowed it to go ahead with all its flimsy excuses.

        Brillantes should have been jailed for breaking the law. But then, no Aquino ally goes to jail under his watch.

    4. Why did Sen. Gordon filed this case against the Comelec only now? Gordon could have done this as his duty as principal author of AES after the 2010 and 2013 election where massive electronic cheating were reported. Can Gordon still file a case against Chair Melo and Chair Brillantes and their respective commissioners for not following the AES Law and negligence of their duty so their pension will be on hold until the case is decided upon by a court and future Comelec Officials will not follow their bad examples? If YES, WoW Sen. Gordon, JUST DO IT and I am sure YOU WILL BE A SURE WINNER COME MAY 9, 2016.

      • ang dapat na tanungin ay bakit ang PPCRV ay nanatiling nakapikit ang mata sa mga kriminal na aktibidad ng comelec. PPCRV is supposed to be an election watchdog against comelec’s neglect and abuses. the chair should resign by being renege on her mandate. 2 elections ng nakapikit ang mga mata ng PPCRV. no words from them about the non-compliance by comelec of the provisions of the AUTOMATED ELECTION LAW.

      • Right after the 2013 National Elections, Sen. Gordon filed a Petition with the Supreme Court asking the Court to direct the Comelec to comply with the law’s requirement for a Source Code review within the periods prescribed by law. This has yet to be decided by the Supreme Court. Also and not long after, Sen. Gordon filed a complaint against the Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes before the Ombudsman. That case has not moved since then.

    5. As a result of the SC decision, Comelec will now have to issue receipts to every voter who casts a ballot. But apparently, any receipt issued by the Smartmatic machines will not show the time, the date and precinct number where the voter cast his ballot. So the boxes where the receipts will be dropped and stored can still be stuffed with “dagdag” or unofficial receipts at the end of the day. There is no question cheating can still take place at the usual suspected places (remember the “hello garci” fraud?).

      Comelec should be required to ask all voters to sign, place the date and time, and the precinct number in the receipts. These instructions should be publicized by Comelec well ahead of time, and pasted all over the precincts where the voting will take place. In addition, there should be policemen or volunteers to monitor the process in each voting place. If only the churches will get involved and organize volunteers among the faithful to monitor the entire proceedings in every election precinct (just like they do in some places in the Southern part of the USA). Then, maybe a “clean election” may take place for the most part. The admonition to “go out and pray” is not going to cut it. Would that Cardinal Tagle, in this election cycle, be more a political “activist” like Pope Francis!

      • erlee, gordon alerted the voters of this new gimmick by comelec. he told each of us to write down on the receipt the name, precint number, time and date and sign the receipt. problem is the comelec might not allow this since they might have something cooking. he he he

      • The Supreme Court did ask the Comelec point blank if it was indeed possible for the receipt to print authentication details such as time and date signatures as well as the precinct number and hashcode. The Comelec said under oath that this was not possible unless a time-consuming source code revision and review would be undertaken. However and after the Supreme Court had issued its 08 March 2016 Decision, we belatedly discovered that the Comelec had previously conducted a demonstration of the VCM’s receipt printing features and the receipt showed both the time and date. As to whether or not the Comelec had deliberately lied to a direct question posed by the Supreme Court, we leave it up to you to the readers to decide.

    6. I just wish the Supreme Court was as precise in the interpretation of the law on this voting receipt requirements as in the interpretation of the constitutional requirement of being a natural-born citizen for a presidential candidate.

    7. ernie del rosario on

      Well done Nel ! But the fight goes on. In fact there are a lot of amendatory refinements that we need to apply on the operative AES Law – given the thick dossier of lessons learned (predominantly bad ones) in the 2010 and 2013 elections and the blatant attempt to repeat the election disasters in those previous 2 elections in the 2016 election. One of the real change can be in the area of Independent Verification where we need to shift to the in the election automation 5th generation verification/transparency solution technologies platformed on strong cryptographic protocols – ang hirap Smartmatic is still in the kindergarten level when it comes to this science. Well time to “amend” this vendor also then in time for 2019