• Where is the Commission on Elections taking us in the balloting in 2016?

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    IT seems it is on a one-way, no exit highway towards Smartmatic with whatever  machines it offers – PCOS or OPMARK, or what-have-they.  These machines have  more than their share of criticism and have, in the case of PCOS, proved less than trustworthy with the obstacles towards revealing the source code, the disarming of security devices, and the mysterious presence in unwarranted places (private house in Antipolo) as well as cards from them found under a bridge in Cagayan de Oro.  It is enough to make the naïve suspicious and the suspicious angry and the general public doubtful.

    Comelec has to prove that it is open for the best and to have more than one party to show up at biddings.  Why are there not enough bidders? Why did previous interested parties drop off?  Why is it that only Smartmatic was left standing despite its less than sterling record in 2012? This must be explained in as transparent a way as possible.

    I have always looked forward and waited for the day when we would have faster and cleaner election results.  I was the Namfrel Chair for Mandaluyong City for almost 15 years from 1984.  I know all about the precinct counting and have witnessed ballot boxes being snatched or burned, goons threatening election watchers, intimidation and mayhem in the bad old days, which I hope are now in the past. Yet whatever it took — the long hours, disorder, crowds, discomfort — we all saw precincts counting the ballots in front of whoever wanted to witness it.  The problem then was in the next step of the process, the canvassing on the municipal, city or provincial  level, where wholesale fraud was committed far from witnesses and with no evidence to prove the cheating.  Thus came the maneuver called dagdag-bawas where operators in or out of the Comelec were involved in moving votes wholesale one way or the other.  Precinct results were thus ignored and cheaters got the results they wanted far from witnesses.

    But when automation came with the PCOS machines on the precinct level just swallowing the ballots and nevermore to be seen and much less counted before witnesses in the precincts, we felt that we had entered the unknown and just had to accept whatever results no matter how alien they felt to the people on the precinct level.

    Automation all the way with the machines on the ascendant and yet with evident discrepancies is what we got.  Voting was supposed to end at 3pm or later depending on the number of voters left inside the polling place that had to be accommodated.  Yet in certain parts of Metro Manila electoral machines were suspiciously spewing out votes way past the reasonable hour sometimes as late as 10:30pm even though the canvassing had started and was almost complete.

    It may be said that the fault was human not mechanical.  But if the at- fault humans do the depredations through machines that have had their security devices disabled and whatever else were supposed to be in place to insure a correct tally, how can we rely on the accuracy of the results?

    What we need to see and be assured of is that Comelec is competently addressing these issues and not just following the pattern of the past and dilly-dallying about confronting them.  With the loss of time, the pressure builds up and then ad hoc solutions or a return to the unsatisfactory past ways become the easy way out. I really do not see why Comelec refuses to try the local solutions offered by private citizens or even well-known computer experts who are familiar with the circumstances of our elections.  On one demonstration, which the Comelec deigned to allow one group using manual counting on the precinct level, when the precinct count took time, Comelec immediately junked the method saying it took too long.  Of course, manual counting takes time but if witnesses are satisfied, it is worth the time.  That is the only stage where time in that suggested local-inspired method will be needed after which the results are canvassed mechanically and rapidly. And there is a precinct level record that the public has witnessed and can compare with the canvass results, if needed.  It is the canvassing that took too long that raises doubts because there is no general public to witness and certify that no manipulation happened. Voters need assurance that their votes have been counted correctly.

    Also, if the above local methods need refining, why does Comelec not give them suggestions, time and assistance to do so?  If they give Smartmatic the time of day, give the locals the same.

    Aside from the doubts, there is the question of how much taxpayers’ money is being thrown into the election.  From the billions we spent the last time around, there has been no collective trust gathered from the experience from the general citizenry.  Money thrown at a problem does not solve the problem unless there is some expertise, open-mindedness and honesty in solving it.

    I am sorry to say that Comelec actuations up to this point and from way in the past are not reassuring.

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    5 Comments

    1. Vic Penetrante on

      The PCOS maker is being sued in the US for poll fraud, according to Julius Bondoc. Yet the Comelec is asking for another bidding for the refurbishment of our PCOS!

    2. Nothing will be gain just by mere writing your dissent against PCOS it’s time to rally… It’s time for people to take actions in the street

    3. The question to ask is why the people are not raging mad against the PCOS machines. Is it because in the back of the minds of the majority they can trust the PCOS machines because the election results jived with the survey results? Or is it because they don’t really care anymore who the President is, because it does not matter and their life will still be the same. For either reason, if this continues to happen, the future looks bleak for the country.

    4. Isn’t it odd that the president who benefits from poll automation is the son of the president that restored “democracy” in our country in 1986? Now what is the current president’s opinion when it comes to automated elections because the public finds it rigged? They literally have the citizens boxed in with no response from a government who would only say that more filipinos prefer poll automation. Why has anyone from the government did a nationwide survey? Try asking the bishops if their followers were surveyed, because they will not pursue their cause if the Catholic Church believes that it is the will of the people to have poll automation.

    5. Justaskingseriously on

      Just as in elections prior to the automation the powers-that-be hijacked the election results, so also in the present automated election system the hijacking has been updated to conform to the 21st century. Your observation as a Namfrel Chair in Mandaluyong for almost 15 years that manual counting in the precinct level is the way people get assurance that their votes are counted deserves the utmost respect and support from the constitutionallly empowered Comelec. And what happens when the constitution itself has also been hijacked? Then you can readily see that the Comelec itself has also been hijacked. No difference between the pre-Edsa and post-Edsa elections except in the automation — progress through digitization. Digitization in its essence is the use of zeroes and ones (010101…). Do combinations of zero and one amount to dagdag-bawas? It would appear so in the judgment of the Comelec. If you ask computer programmers, they would tell you how much money these combinations are worth. Billions! Do not expect the Comelec to miss out on the opportunities to make Billions. The local varieties like PATAS and TAPAT do not yield Billions. Everybody knows that, for a despot to remain in power, Billions are needed from whatever sources. The whole thing reeks of Machiavellianism. Short of another EDSA, only the Supreme Court seems to be the hope to stop the 21st century tyrant — B….S…. But don’t expect the B…S…ting to stop unless it is stopped.