What if the military can no longer watch in silence?

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The real problem is not that the May 9, 2016 elections may be postponed to an impossible date or that we may be compelled to shift from electronic to manual voting if the Supreme Court compels the Commission on Elections to install the “voter’s receipt,” or the “voter verification paper audit trail” (VVPAT) into the Vote Counting Machine (VCM). Rather, it is that the voters may finally reject the elections as a total irrelevancy because of unresolved constitutional issues and because total chaos would have intervened.

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Let’s take these issues, one at a time.

Postponing the polls
First, the voter’s receipt. Malacañang has told Comelec Chair Andres Bautista to stop talking of postponing the elections or shifting to manual voting, if the Comelec is compelled by the Supreme Court to follow the law. It is a formula for instability, and a confession of total incompetence. It is totally unworthy of Bautista to suggest that the only way to hold the elections as scheduled is to allow the Comelec’s gross violation of the Automated Election Law to continue, and the VCM — the new name for the discredited precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine — to be used without the safety and security features and accuracy mechanisms, which were illegally removed during the 2010 and 2013 elections.

Since last year, several petitioners have been asking the Comelec and its foreign partner Smartmatic to restore four to 13 such security features. Finally, the High Court ordered the restoration of the VVPAT, to provide the individual voter with a receipt showing how he voted, and which he drops inside an assigned box before he exits the voting precinct. The Comelec said there’s no more time left to make the necessary technical adjustments; and in a motion for reconsideration on behalf of the Comelec, Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said the use of the VVPAT would intolerably add another two hours plus to the voting.

Beyond the VVPAT
Petitioner Richard Gordon, the former senator who authored the Automated Election Law in the Senate, and is running again for senator, was in Court yesterday to argue the merits of his petition against the Solicitor General’s motion. There is so much public support behind his position, and our prayers and best wishes are with him. But, truth to tell, even if the VVPAT were put in place, and every voter is able to verify to his utmost satisfaction that his voter has been read right by the VCM, there is still no guarantee that the votes in every precinct will be accurately counted by the same machine and accurately transmitted through the transmission system to the final tabulating center.

I shall elaborate in a little while.

For the longest time, techies from the National Computer Society, Automated Election Systems (AES) Watch, Tanggulang Demokrasya (Tandem), Center for People Empowerment and Governance (Cenpeg) and the National Transformation Council’s resident expert Glenn Chong, among others, have been trying to explain this to everyone. They wanted to get rid of Smartmatic, and replace it with an indigenous provider, one that is completely transparent, dependable and inexpensive.

But Smartmatic has proved formidable, especially after it brought in a new international chairman in the person of Lord Mark Malloch Brown, an old partner of George Soros who has figured in changing several “unwanted regimes.” Malloch Brown worked for the late former President Corazon Aquino in 1986, and had a private meeting with President B. S. Aquino 3rd in Malacañang last June while the Comelec was deliberating on his firm’s latest proposals.

Despite a warning from one of the world’s leading auditing firms, that Smartmatic (Philippines) is a wholly owned foreign subsidiary with no legal personality to engage in business in the country, the Venezuelan firm has been allowed to corner every contract related to the conduct of the 2016 elections. This includes the operations and control of the National Technical Support Center, which played a pivotal but undiscussed role in the 2010 and 2013 elections. No one is talking about the NTSC, precisely because its exact role is unknown. It is supposed to provide the appropriate intervention whenever a voting machine develops any kind of trouble. It is not clear to whom it is accountable, and whether a record of its activities is subject to monitoring.

Mysterious player
According to highly informed sources, Smartmatic originally lost the bid for the NTSC to a much lower bidder, but moved heaven and earth to dislodge the winner. It has reportedly spent more money just to wrest control of the contract, than it was expected to make by operating the center according to its terms of reference. It is a mystery why anyone would spend more than what they propose to make from any contract.

One source reports that in the last elections, the Center was housed in a multi-story building, but there was one floor where certain hardware was stored and the manager of the Center, who was supposed to be responsible for its entire operations, was not allowed to enter. He did not have the slightest clue on what was happening there.

A parallel system?
The plot thickens. Highly qualified technical sources have revealed that at least one presidential camp has procured from the United States a large quantity of ViaSat terminals, sufficient to operate a transmission system parallel to the official system that would be operating during the elections. Full details of this purchase have not yet been disclosed, but information about it first surfaced early last month when the contracts manager of ViaSat Inc., a firm based in Carlsbad, California, wrote the Comelec chair on February 3, 2016 to formally inquire “who are eligible to purchase ViaSat products.”

“With this letter, we hope to address any… concerns from the Commission on Elections,” wrote Timothy E. Harrington to Bautista. “Please kindly be advised that as the manufacturer of FT 2225N-000 Fixed Terminal (‘Terminal’), ViaSat, Inc. is entitled to sell its Terminal to an entity regardless of whether that entity has entered into a Value Added Reseller Agreement with ViaSat or is a government agency; provided such a sale complies with all applicable laws, rules and regulations, and is made pursuant to appropriate government approvals. A fully compliant purchase order would need to be issued in accordance with the enclosed ViaSat Firm Fixed Price International Terms and Conditions, including mutually agreeable payment terms. ViaSat is able to ship a quantity of 5,000 Terminals within sixty (60) days after receipt of the compliant purchase order.”

Our sources confirm that Bautista received the letter, but it is not known whether he has replied, and if so, what was his response. The mere fact that the US firm wrote this letter shows some concern that the Terminal might be misused for election-related purposes. Since the Comelec is not the one buying, the only possible conclusion is that another party, most likely private, is buying. Has Comelec exerted any effort to find out who this is?

The real problem
But this is just one more shade of dark added to the prospects of the elections. Aside from the technical mumbo-jumbo which all the parties are trying to contribute to the coming farce, the decision of some Supreme Court justices to inflict a non-qualified presidential candidate upon the election makes the whole process execrable and irrelevant. We cannot get away from it.

The manifestly erroneous ponencia by Justice Jose Perez declaring that Sen. Grace Poe Llamanzares is “qualified” to run for President, despite the lack of a Court majority supporting her claim that she is a natural-born Filipino citizen and a resident of the country for 11 months in excess of the 10-year period required of presidential candidates, is like a Chinese missile hitting our defenseless territory.

We know it’s wrong. And we know the Justices know it’s wrong. But because we’re such law-abiding and peace-loving citizens, they probably expect us to just fold our arms and accept their execrable act as something normal. But every action has consequence/s. And evil acts have evil consequences.

What happens if and when any number of our people decide that the point has been reached when, as Camus puts it, even the slave must rebel? Would more people be eager to go to the polls to vote for a former American citizen who has become a “natural-born Filipino” by judicial fiat and disputable presumption? What will the Church do, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines?

The Church has to provide the moral guidelines for people’s action. But the military has to seriously consider its duties and obligations. As an institution, the military has no role to play in an election except to vote. But what are they to do when the elections have become a threat to national security and the people’s well-being?

The silent armed forces
From 2010 onward, they have watched as a deranged President trampled upon the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances, and mocked the tripartite system of government. They watched in silence as he corrupted Congress to impeach and remove the Supreme Court Chief Justice and make the other Justices bow to his imperial whimsies and caprices. They watched speechless as he usurped the Congress’ power of the purse, and misused billions for his ego trips, including his failed pursuit of the Nobel Prize. They watched powerless as he nixed the Senate’s authority to participate in the ratification of a treaty concerning the defense and security of the Republic.

Will they still watch in silence as some muddled Justices, without the authority to amend the Constitution, proclaim a former American citizen of unknown parentage as a natural-born Filipino, qualified to be elected President of the Philippines, in violation of the clearest provisions of the Constitution? Indeed, the people should rise against this unprovoked assault on the Constitution, but what happens if the military, as the constitutional protector of the people and the State, anticipate the action of the people?

We shall have elections only after we shall have restructured our political system.

fstatad@gmail.com

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36 Comments

  1. Mr. Tatad has said his piece with eloquence, obviously in the exercise of press freedom. Let us confine to the issues raised, sans engaging in personalities which only betray a bankruptcy of logic & reliable basis.

  2. Tatad’s corrupt mentality, divide instead of unite, you should be the first to receive the bullet from the military. We don’t need a politician like you.
    Pilipino ka ba?

  3. The SC decision on Poe-Llamanzares is a “COMPLETE” mockery of the fundamental law of the land (The Philippine Constitution), making it a ‘farce’ document and just a piece of paper, after all. Ergo: Burn it!

    The adverse effect will be long and lasting, and we have to live with it! Do we deserved what we get?

  4. Amnata Pundit on

    I believe Grace is not a natural born Filipino, she may even be technically an alien, but she is still a Filipino and one indication is that she can cuss like one, according to you as a matter of fact. But look at the bigger picture: isn’t there more reason for the military to revolt if its the crook Binay who makes it to Malacanang, or Mar Roxas who preferred to look the other way as Boy Sayad abandoned the SAF 44 to their deaths? Since we know that Smartmatic will be programmed to reject Duterte and Miriam, we only have these three rotten apples to choose from. Who do you think is the least rotten ?

  5. The Philippine military is a malnourished, spineless wimp. Its Generals only know how to make money off military contracts. Other than that they are a pathetic lot, empty of any vision, ideals or principles.

  6. “Fall in brave Katipunan!
    Our country calls to its loyal men.
    Her banner proudly waves on high,
    On you she does rely.

    Every danger braving with faith unswerving,
    We’ll go on marching to victory.
    We’re free to answer our country’s battle cry
    And joyous ever for freedom to die!

  7. What has become of you? A sore loser, with his ferocious and furious comments. like a dog beyond medication, licking your wounds. Your last hope is a coup d’état since your words are going NOWHERE!

  8. I hope I’m wrong, but after what happened to former CJ Corona, which happened only because the Filipino people not only allowed it to happen but even egged on those who were responsible for the whole farce, and after seeing how Aquino was able to rid GMA of her liberty without proving her guilt in anything because the people allowed him to do so as they hated GMA, and after meeting a lot of Filipinos who don’t care what the constitution says and want Poe to run against all odds, I have come to the conclusion that many Filipinos generally do not really care about the rule of law for as long as what they want to happen happens, and that many Filipinos generally swear loyalty to a person or candidate not because of what he/she stands for but in spite of it. I hope I’m wrong, but I think our country is in a serious rut. So will we go to the streets for another people power revolution? Will the military do something about all the travesty that’s happening in our country right now? In all honesty, I’m not very confident they will. I hope I’m wrong.

  9. Your rage over a loss you will to the end of your days never accept is driving you to the verge of being the accused in a criminal case of SEDITION by inciting people to rebellion against duly constituted authorities. Be well advised to retain a more competent lawyer than Manuelito Luna or you run the risk of his losing your criminal case and of your being convicted by a single judge rather than 7 out of 15 judges. If you do take the risk, you will find consolation in the example set by St. Joan of Arc who was misunderstood by her oppressors and set to flame. How does St. Francis Tatad sound? LOL.

  10. Mr. Tadtad wished it’s martial law again! He Is well experienced and expert on this and he must be losing sleep over it because it’s taking far too long to happen. If our country once again undergoes a turmoil the same monsters of the Marcos regime will be back again killing and murdering anybody who puts up a resistance to their ideology. So where does this lead us?

  11. Crying baby (Tadtad) again re: Grace Poe’s qualification … Pro-Binay Tatad never stops crying ….

    • No name-calling, please. Stick to the arguments and facts. We Filipinos really need to grow up.

  12. Mr. Tatad, never mind our military they are a bunch of cowards especially their Generals. Our Politicians will just got the whipping and they cry like a baby. They are far beyond compared to the military of Thailand. the military of Thailand has the balls to kick the ass of their civilian politicians…

  13. Makes one think whether it is high time for the men in uniform to thrust themselves once again in the forefront to protect the Constitution and the true will of the Filipino people.

    Our fate cannot forever be at the whim and mercy of the trapos, their minions in the COMELEC and the so-called High Court and their business allies who never have it so good feeding off the patience, perseverance of the people (PPP).

    Something’s bound to give if they will force their way against the Constitution and the true will of the people. And the military should be ready to play its role as guardian and protector of the Constitution and the people. .

  14. What I know is that any export of technology from the US will need to get a State Dept clearance. Hence, patriotic Filipinos in the US should be able to request the US State Dept under their Freedom of Information Act as to who bought those terminals, quantities, serial numbers and other technical information. Likewise, there would be a paper trail in the US Customs viz Bill of Lading, consignees, date of loading and insurance cover which then could be compared to the records of our local Bureau of Customs. If air transport was used, it would appear in the Manifest.

    With or without the military, patriotic and freedom loving Filipinos can now start forming alliances and organizations to start a parallel government that shall never subsume to the illegal and immoral acts of benito and his cabal. Be that as it may, we should implore the military to do its constitutional mandate as the PROTECTOR of the people.

    BENIGNO AQUINO, IBAGSAK!!!

  15. Ex. Sen. Tatad is correct in his comment that if all these political disturbance authored by the administration and all their allies continue without end, it may agitate the AFP and some-one who is straight and wants the government to behave. Let us be very careful about this matter. The officers corps of the military is not 100% pro PNoy considering that PNoy is known to appoint only the officers who follow his tail all the time. Favoritism in the military promotions to the flag officers is so blatantly done these days and those appointed are not necessarily the best among the crop. Connections have been prevailing and those left behind could be the best materials. Turmoils like this will surely agitate them.

  16. The military can not watch in silence. They have been sleeping long in slumber. It’s time for somebody to wake them up and be the protector of the state and its people.

  17. Thumbs up. Thank you Mr Tatad for writing about the truth, People should know and has the right to know what is the truth .Since day one of BA3’s leadership, i never believe with this person..so evil.

  18. I thought Sereno is brilliant being appointed as SCChieft Justice, she is a lowly bayaran pala, a dismal to the law profession…….

  19. Military? Do we have one? Where were they when Cory not only violated but ‘abrogated’ or trashed or garbaged the 1973 Constitution, abolished the parliament, abolish Supreme Court, created PCGG and appointed people to re-write a valid an existing constitution by mere Executive Order? Recall, Cory was a 1973 Constitution elected president (1986 Snap Election) and not a revolutionary president and so you wonder: where she got that authority and on what basis? Student Government Manual?
    Where in a democratic world can you find that an Executive Order can effectively abolish a Constitution? Onli in da Pilipins and and we are the laughing stock in the World. That’s why I submit that the 1987 Constitution (that anti GP people is beefing about) is itself ‘unconstitutional’ and it should be replaced ASAP.

  20. Mr Tatad, you have raised “Sore losing” to its highest, shameless degree. Now, even inciting a military coup or people’s uprising of some sort. Your ego is much bigger than the countries well-being. Or “Binayaran” upped your ante.

    My opinion, you’re dreading a Poe presidency because its 6 years of irrelevance for you. Your advocacy against Grace only makes sense if you’re getting paid for it. Even after the SC ruled 9-6 against the Comelec (the question before it), you’re even now crying louder than a brat. Why don’t you hold your breathe till you do us all a favor from your dishonest writing.

    She was just allowed to run, not awarded the office, Lest, now you think she’s a shoo-in to win in May.

    • The issue is that we’re supposed to be a constitutional democracy but Aquino and his minions in the SC have trampled all over our constitution. That leaves us completely vulnerable to abuse by practically anyone in and outside our country. If you’re not troubled by what’s happening to our country and by how we’ve been deprived of all ways to right all the wrongs done to us, then there’s something terribly wrong. Besides, if you know that Mr. Tatad has written something untrue (dishonest writing?), please do us readers a favor by proving it.

    • She has a lot of people fooled so it is not unlikely that she could win. Now that would be unfortunate since a former alien with an American family and whose being natural-born and 10-year residency in the Philippines are still suspect (the SC justices who formed a plural, not majority, opinion did not have the right qualifications to be justices and were just forced on the Filipino people by Pnoy) could end up occupying Malacanang. It is not far-fetched that the ones “binayaran” were those stupid justices whose arguments were so out of line even to ordinary laymen.

  21. It’s more likely that there will be chaos next coming months. The yellow party (oligarch) or Liberal Party and noynoy and the cohuangco will use all the means they have at their disposals to cheat and manipulate the elections to their favor. And the people and the military (with CIA concurrence) will reject the manipulated outcome of the election. I think that is why Kris Aquino is already getting ready to leave the country (She is quitting her TV program).

  22. Mr.Kilikili Dakdak,

    Umabot man sa langit ang reklamo mo, wala ka ng magagawa. Nagdecide na ang Korte Suprema. Ang hirap sa iyo, ayaw mong tumanggap ng pagkatalo tulad noong natalo ka sa 2004 National Elections. Uuwi ka pa ring nganga at luhaan dahil yan lang ang dapat mangyari sa iyo sa ginagawa mong paninira at pagwasak sa reputasyon ng iba. Think of KARMA and The GOLDEN RULE. That applies to your shady and dubious character.

    • Pag hindi tayo nagtanda o natuto ng leksiyon sa pagboto sa maling kandidato, at pag di tayo huminto sa pagkakampi-kampihan kahit na alam naman nating wala sa tama ang kinakampihan natin, tayong lahat ang makakarma.

  23. leonardo o. odono on

    What if the military can no longer watch in silence? A valid and timely question indeed!

    The non-disqualification from running for the presidency of someone who is not a natural-born Filipino, who renounced her allegiance to our country, and who lacks the residency requirement vandalizes our constitution and subverts the rule of law that we, more particularly the justices of the Supreme Court, are bound to uphold. In the same vein, the election of one who appears to me as the epitome of corruption in public service, like the election of a half-American, half-Filipino, will create instability in the country.

    The soldier in me tells me I can not allow a fake Filipino, and someone tainted with very serious charges of graft and corruption, to be Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces. I suppose many of those in uniform as well as those of us who used to wear the uniform, share my sentiment – and could, or rather, should, decide one day, with the support of an awakened citizenry, to move together and put things aright in our benighted country.

    Col. Leonardo O. Odono (Ret)

    • Good that you’re d already: otherwise, after a court martial, you will surely face a firing squad, since you are out of tune and mind,and out of turn with the authorities and your superiors in government.