DURING the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee hearing on August 6, 2015, I read a statement which I am reproducing below, with some minor editing:
For our elections to be credible, three things must be present: 1) accuracy of the counting; 2) transparency of the process; and 3) speed. All three must be present.
How does Smartmatic’s PCOS fare with respect to these requirements?
• No mock election conducted by Smartmatic has produced the required accuracy rate of 99.995% or better (1 error in 20,000 marks)
• The 2010 Random Manual Audit (RMA) resulted in only a 99.6% accuracy rate (80 errors in 20,000)
• The July 24-25, 2012 mock elections in Congress resulted in only a 97.215%accuracy rate (557 errors in 20,000)
• The 2013 RMA resulted in only a 98.86% accuracy rate (228 errors in 20,000)
• In 2010, 9% of the PCOS units failed to transmit the Election Returns (ERs) to the Transparency Server; in 2013, 23% of them failed.
• The huge differences between the PCOS and manual counts in the election cases in General Tinio, Nueva Ecija, Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, and Dinalupihan, Bataan are clear proofs of PCOS’ inaccurate counting and/or vulnerability to internal tampering. There surely would have been more had the protest process not been seriously impaired
• Smartmatic’s counts and canvassing results were so arbitrary. This was exemplified by the progress of Senator Poe’s total votes. In the May 18, 2013 report, with only 42% of the votes canvassed, she already garnered 20,147,423 votes. Extrapolating the total with the remaining 58% would have brought her total to more than the voter turn-out of 39 million. But instead, in the June 7 report, she only gained 189,904 votes. Some suspect that the results were massaged. And then, in the June 11 report, her total votes went down to 16,340,333. No explanation that I know of.
Transparency. Any system that automates precinct-counting loses transparency. And it follows therefore that all succeeding steps after precinct-counting would also be questionable. Loss of transparency is the common reason why Germany, Netherlands, Ireland, Australia, and 14 other countries out of the 30 that automated their elections, went back to manual precinct-counting.
Speed. If the Smartmatic system had run properly, the final results would have been released at half the time it took, especially in 2013.
Since Smartmatic’s PCOS machines are inaccurate and non-transparent, and only the speed requirement was somewhat met, why is Comelec still entertaining bids from this vendor? It just doesn’t make sense! And it would make our elections a sham.
Further proof of the unreliable Smartmatic system is the very recent fiasco (in June 2015) that occurred in Tabasco, Mexico, where their system failed miserably.
Should we allow Comelec to continue dealing with this vendor and putting the 2016 elections at risk? The Comelec recently awarded a contract to Smartmatic for the supply of 23,000 more PCOS machines and will bid out another 71,000, which, based on the existing liaison between Comelec and this vendor, will most likely be won again by Smartmatic. Comelec is digging a deeper hole for us that we will soon find difficulty extricating ourselves from.
Comelec cannot say that there are no other alternatives. There are two … and they are both Filipino-developed. If it still prefers an OMR (Optical Mark Recognition) system, there’s TAPAT, which, apart from being accurate, has the VVPAT feature (Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail), which PCOS does not have.
If it doesn’t mind a system that may take some 10 hours longer, there’s PATaS, which, apart from being accurate, does not only bring back transparency into the system, but enhances it even more. It includes a public website that is updated every 30 minutes, showing the progress of counting in each precinct. This website can be accessed by anybody anywhere in the world. I know of no system today that can match that.
And, by the way, it is not true that PATaS will cost P36 billion, as Comelec has been maliciously announcing. That was a work of fiction worthy of inclusion in Ripley’s Believe It or Not. It must have been computed by the same group, within Comelec, that came up with the cost of P700 million for ballot-secrecy folders for the 2010 elections.
Our estimate of the equipment cost of PATaS is only P4 billion and they can be donated to public schools after each election, thus saving on warehousing and maintenance expenses. This, plus the other expenses (bloated, still) that I picked up from the Comelec version, our total comes up to P13 billion, against PCOS’ P20 billion (plus P400 million a year for warehousing and P1.8 billion – or is it P3.1 billion? – for repairs.
It is also not true that it would take one year to develop the software. The Consolidation and Canvassing System (CCS) was developed in three months when I was still with the Comelec. It might need another one or two weeks for “stress” testing.
And for the nth time, I dare the Comelec lawyers and the pro-Smartmatic Congressmen to review R.A. 9369 and then show us what provision in that law is violated by PATaS.
As a Filipino saying goes, “Pag gusto, mayparaan; pag ayaw, may dahilan.” (If they want it, thereis a way. If they don’t, there’s always a reason.) Or how about this? “Mahirap daw gisingin ang nagtutulug-tulugan lamang.” (It’s said that Nothing is harder than to wake up someone who’s pretending to be asleep.