SPEECHES & INTERPELLATIONS

Speeches

HAIL TO THE CHIEF and BLESSED BE HIS VICE

Explanation of Sen. Nene Pimentel, member of the National Board of Canvassers, of his vote on the proclamation of the newly-elected President and Vice President at the Session Hall of the Batasang Pambansa on June 9, 2010

I agree with the Resolution of the Joint Congress National Canvassing Board that Sen. Benigno Simeon Aquino III be proclaimed president-elect of this Republic. And I congratulate him for his smashing victory. He led his closest rival by more than five million votes.

 

His parents, Senator Ninoy and President Cory must be smiling with parental pride in their heavenly abode over the electoral triumph of their only son. I am certain that they are happy that they did not follow the one or two child policy being bruited about today. Otherwise, the President-elect would not be around today to enjoy his proclamation as the next leader of the nation.

 

Sanguine

 

Since the incoming President has a mind of his own, my expectations of him are sanguine. I sense that he would redirect the focus of the national government towards two things: (a) speeding up the national development with the indispensable assistance of the local government units, and, (b) dissipating the causes of Moro unrest in Mindanao and of the other armed groups in other parts of the country, hopefully, through the adoption of the federal system.

 

Lest I be misunderstood, I do not advocate the adoption of the federal system as a panacea for all the ills of the country.

 

Tough job

 

President-elect Aquino must also implement without fear or favor other laws such as those against corruption, forced disappearances, extrajudicial killings, warlords and their private armies, pollution, and, street criminality and abusive political dynasties. On top of his agenda for the nation, I suggest that the human rights of our people must occupy the highest priority even as he will resolutely implement a thousand and one other laws to bring about the general welfare of our people.

 

It’s a tough job. But the perception is that our people have just elected a tough leader, one who has a mind of his own, and, therefore, quite capable in his own right to tackle the challenges of the times.

 

Remarkable Vice

 

Likewise, I also support the Resolution that Mayor Jejomar Binay be proclaimed as the duly elected vice president. I offer him my felicitations on a very remarkable win over well-heeled and well-known rivals for the vice presidency.

 

In the run-up to Election Day, the then leading vice presidential contender, then, predicted – so confident of his victory - that the race for the vice presidency would only determine the place second to him: either the Nacionalista Party Candidate Senator Loren Legarda or the PDP-Laban[1] bet Mayor Jojo Binay who ran in coalition with the Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino.

 

The results hit him squarely on the chin like a vicious Pacquiao uppercut that felled him cold. Mayor Binay had caught up with him from a .08 poll survey rating at the campaign start, overtook him in the last 10 days of the campaign and finished him off with an avalanche of something like 727,084 votes at the national canvass yesterday (June 8).

                         

Coming from a family that survived on the mercies of the elements in the mean streets of a depressed area in Manila, Mayor Binay had two siblings who both died in infancy due to actual malnourishment or hidden hunger or lack of proper medical care. Considering the dire circumstances of his childhood, it is easy to believe that the new vice president would remember his past and now devote his term as the number two official of the Republic to the uplifting of the lives of the poor and the development of the nation.

 

His expertise on how to make local governments, the basic political structure of the nation, work to deliver the essential services needed by the people is crucial to the success of the new administration. I guess that now that he is the vice president-elect of the land, he would inspire other local governments to follow what he had done to transform Makati from a middling municipality in the ‘70s into the seat of modernity and growth in Metro-Manila that it is today.

 

Regrets  

 

Respectfully, however, I must put on record my regrets that the PCOS machines that we used for the very first automated elections we held on May 10, 2010 were not completely reliable and were tainted by certain anomalies.

For sure, the irregularities, abnormalities, or glitches, if you like, that came with the process and the results of the automated elections in some parts of the country may not suffice to nullify the entire electoral exercise.

 

In any event, the automated electoral system that we used left a long trail of deficiencies that we must cure if we are ever to use AES machines in future political exercises. The defects were mostly directly machine-generated, but, at least, on one occasion, the shortcoming was specifically man-made as will be shown towards the end of this Statement.

 

Right denied

                     

For one, our voters were denied the right to know how and if the votes they had cast for their chosen candidates were duly recorded by the so-called Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines[2]. The paper-trail that I, as a lawmaker, was assured would be available for that purpose, never materialized in any of the election machines used all over the country. All that came out of the PCOS machines after every ballot was read by the machines was an inane, silly, and childish message that said: “Congratulaions! You have successfully voted.”  

                

For another, there were several certificates of canvass electronically sent to the national Canvassing and Consolidation Server (CCS) that contained data errors.

 

Strictly speaking, those mistakes should have resulted in the nullification of the votes enumerated in the certificates.

 

Wrong dates

 

Glaring examples are certificates of canvass that bore the correct date of the elections, May 10, 2010, but, which misstated the date and the time of the closure of the polls. For example, in Bacolod City, copies of canvass reports from precincts in the city noted that the polls closed on January 18, 2010 (see Annex A).

      

In Quezon City, Congresswoman Annie Susano shared with me the contents of a CF card that was presumably taken from one of the PCOS machines used in the elections in the city.

 

On-Off Sensors

 

When the CF card was opened by the use of a privately-owned computer, it disclosed that of the seven sensors in the PCOS from which the card was taken, four were put on and off at certain intervals and three were permanently switched off.

 

The sensors, I am told, are the devices that read the contents of the ballots when they are processed by the PCOS machines.

 

The CF card as read showed the following data:

 

Sensor Settings of PCOS

                   
       

Acosta Aquino

Delos Reyes Estrada Gordon

Madrigal Teodoro Villanueva

Villar

?

?

?

         
       

Binay Chipeco

Fernando Legarda

Manzano Roxas

Sonza Yasay

?

?

?

         

Item #

Time: from

Time: to

Duration

PS1

PS2

PS3

PS4

PS5

PSDV

PSDSD

# Ballots scanned

 # of Ballots Running Total

     

 

10-May

                           

1

7:30:43

7:32:28

0:01:45

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

2

2

     

2

7:32:28

7:33:34

0:01:06

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

2

4

 

4

4

3

7:33:34

7:33:35

0:00:01

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

0

4

 

0

4

4

7:33:35

7:35:09

0:01:34

on

off

off

off

off

off

off

4

8

 

4

8

5

7:35:09

7:35:14

0:00:05

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

0

8

 

0

8

6

7:35:14

7:37:03

0:01:49

on

on

off

off

off

off

off

4

12

 

4

12

7

7:37:03

7:37:05

0:00:02

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

0

12

 

0

12

8

7:37:05

7:47:28

0:10:23

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

6

18

 

6

18

9

7:47:28

7:47:40

0:00:12

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

0

18

 

0

18

10

7:47:40

7:50:48

0:03:37

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

2

20

 

2

20

11

7:50:48

7:54:25

0:08:14

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

1

21

 

1

21

12

7:54:25

8:02:39

0:01:30

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

6

27

 

6

27

13

8:02:39

8:04:09

0:06:52

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

3

30

 

3

30

14

8:04:09

8:11:01

0:06:24

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

7

37

 

7

37

15

8:11:01

8:17:25

0:04:07

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

7

44

 

7

44

16

8:17:25

8:21:32

0:01:11

on

on

off

off

off

off

off

4

48

 

4

48

17

8:21:32

8:22:43

0:13:33

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

3

51

 

3

51

18

8:22:43

8:36:16

0:02:33

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

14

65

 

14

65

19

8:36:16

8:38:49

0:04:44

on

on

off

off

off

off

off

5

70

 

5

70

20

8:38:49

8:43:33

0:05:56

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

4

74

 

4

74

21

8:43:33

8:49:29

0:04:02

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

9

83

 

9

83

22

8:49:29

8:53:31

0:02:17

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

3

86

 

3

86

23

8:53:31

8:55:48

0:19:01

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

5

91

 

5

91

24

8:55:48

9:14:49

0:06:02

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

24

115

 

24

115

25

9:14:49

9:20:51

0:00:22

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

8

123

 

8

123

26

9:20:51

9:21:13

0:10:06

on

on

off

off

off

off

off

13

136

 

13

136

27

9:21:13

9:31:19

0:00:00

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

0

136

 

0

136

28

9:31:19

9:31:19

0:01:55

on

on

off

off

off

off

off

2

138

 

2

138

29

9:31:19

9:33:14

0:05:26

on

on

off

off

off

off

off

15

153

 

15

153

30

9:33:14

9:48:40

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

8

161

 

8

161

31

9:48:40

9:55:26

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

5

166

 

5

166

32

9:55:26

9:58:14

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

31

197

 

31

197

33

9:58:14

10:22:17

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

5

202

 

5

202

34

10:22:17

10:28:26

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

19

221

 

19

221

35

10:28:26

10:42:42

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

0

221

 

0

221

36

10:42:42

10:42:57

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

3

224

 

3

224

37

10:42:57

10:44:03

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

3

227

 

3

227

38

10:44:03

10:45:40

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

1

228

 

1

228

39

10:45:40

10:46:02

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

5

233

 

5

233

40

10:46:02

10:46:39

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

2

235

 

2

235

41

10:46:39

10:48:42

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

6

241

 

6

241

42

10:48:42

10:49:28

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

16

257

 

16

257

43

10:49:28

10:53:52

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

1

258

 

1

258

44

10:53:52

11:05:48

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

15

273

 

15

273

45

11:05:48

11:06:18

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

5

278

 

5

278

46

11:06:18

11:18:06

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

0

278

 

0

278

47

11:18:06

11:21:27

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

19

297

 

19

297

48

11:21:27

11:22:02

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

10

307

 

10

307

49

11:22:02

11:32:10

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

0

307

 

0

307

50

11:32:10

11:38:57

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

0

307

 

0

307

51

11:38:57

11:38:58

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

9

316

 

9

316

52

11:38:58

11:38:58

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

5

321

 

5

321

53

11:38:58

11:44:12

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

0

321

 

0

321

54

11:44:12

11:51:11

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

off

2

323

 

2

323

55

11:51:11

11:51:13

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

2

325

 

2

325

56

11:51:13

11:52:17

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

0

325

 

0

325

57

11:52:17

11:53:29

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

4

329

 

4

329

58

11:53:29

11:53:37

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

10

339

 

10

339

59

11:53:37

11:57:22

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

11

350

 

11

350

60

11:57:22

12:08:27

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

1

351

 

1

351

61

12:08:27

12:17:11

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

off

6

357

 

6

357

62

12:17:11

12:18:52

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

2

359

 

2

359

63

12:18:52

12:21:17

 

on

off

off

off

off

off

off

2

361

 

2

361

64

12:21:17

12:23:07

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

7

368

 

7

368

65

12:23:07

12:23:59

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

off

2

370

 

2

370

66

12:23:59

12:27:22

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

1

371

 

1

371

67

12:27:22

12:31:21

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

off

5

376

 

5

376

68

12:31:21

12:36:07

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

5

381

 

5

381

69

12:36:07

12:40:13

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

3

384

 

3

384

70

12:40:13

12:44:18

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

3

387

 

3

387

71

12:44:18

12:47:23

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

22

409

 

22

409

72

12:47:23

12:51:24

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

5

414

 

5

414

73

12:51:24

13:11:11

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

3

417

 

3

417

74

13:11:11

13:13:55

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

3

420

 

3

420

75

13:13:55

13:15:08

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

7

427

 

7

427

76

13:15:08

13:16:45

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

10

437

 

10

437

77

13:16:45

13:23:08

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

6

443

 

6

443

78

13:23:08

13:23:08

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

14

457

 

14

457

79

13:23:08

13:29:05

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

1

458

 

1

458

80

13:29:05

13:34:15

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

off

0

458

 

0

458

81

13:34:15

13:44:21

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

13

471

 

13

471

82

13:44:21

13:44:43

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

2

473

 

2

473

83

13:44:43

13:44:45

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

4

477

 

4

477

84

13:44:45

13:51:23

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

2

479

 

2

479

85

13:51:23

13:52:17

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

11

490

 

11

490

86

13:52:17

13:55:17

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

5

495

 

5

495

87

13:55:17

13:56:08

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

4

499

 

4

499

88

13:56:08

14:03:52

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

4

503

 

4

503

89

14:03:52

14:08:21

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

7

510

 

7

510

90

14:08:21

14:10:16

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

2

512

 

2

512

91

14:10:16

14:15:48

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

17

529

 

17

529

92

14:15:48

14:19:30

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

9

538

 

9

538

93

14:19:30

14:20:08

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

6

544

 

6

544

94

14:20:08

14:31:02

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

7

551

 

7

551

95

14:31:02

14:41:47

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

0

551

 

0

551

96

14:41:47

14:46:41

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

8

559

 

8

559

97

14:46:41

14:50:21

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

off

21

580

 

21

580

98

14:50:21

14:50:22

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

off

5

585

 

5

585

99

14:50:22

14:56:24

 

on

off

off

off

off

off

off

8

593

 

8

593

100

14:56:24

15:12:16

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

0

593

 

0

593

101

15:12:16

15:14:49

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

10

603

 

10

603

102

15:14:49

15:20:22

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

5

608

 

5

608

103

15:20:22

15:20:23

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

3

611

 

3

611

104

15:20:23

15:20:24

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

3

614

 

3

614

105

15:20:24

15:25:41

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

5

619

 

5

619

106

15:25:41

15:31:07

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

off

0

619

 

0

619

107

15:31:07

15:34:16

 

on

off

off

off

off

off

off

3

622

 

3

622

108

15:34:16

15:37:22

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

39

661

 

39

661

109

15:37:22

15:42:25

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

4

665

 

4

665

110

15:42:25

15:42:27

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

22

687

 

22

687

111

15:42:27

15:43:40

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

off

5

692

 

5

692

112

15:43:40

16:17:41

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

4

696

 

4

696

113

16:17:41

16:20:06

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

4

700

 

4

700

114

16:20:06

16:42:14

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

3

703

 

3

703

115

16:42:14

16:46:02

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

1

704

 

1

704

116

16:46:02

16:47:54

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

7

711

 

7

711

117

16:47:54

16:51:54

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

19

730

 

19

730

118

16:51:54

16:52:48

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

off

0

730

 

0

730

119

16:52:48

16:53:12

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

2

732

 

2

732

120

16:53:12

17:00:07

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

on

0

732

 

0

732

121

17:00:07

17:33:30

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

21

753

 

21

753

122

17:33:30

17:33:30

 

off

off

off

off

off

off

off

0

753

   

753

123

17:33:30

17:34:56

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

off

0

753

   

753

123

17:34:56

17:34:57

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

off

0

753

   

753

 

17:34:57

19:07:22

 

on

on

off

off

off

off

off

         
 

19:07:22

                           

 

 

Basically wrong

 

One does not need an IT expert to understand that a reading of Sensor Settings of the CF card cited above readily shows that something was basically wrong with that particular PCOS machine. The switching of sensors on-and-off meant that some votes were counted some of the time, while others were not counted most of the time.

 

It does not, however, speak of the ALL the PCOS machines that were used throughout the country.

 

Nonetheless, if one of the PCOS machines did go wrong or was programmed to read some votes in some of the columns of the candidates and not read others at certain times, there is ground for alarm that all was not well with the AES process that we used in the  May elections.

 

It is unfortunate that Congresswoman Susano, in my opinion, appeared unable to go for broke in her expose of the anomalies she encountered in her own district in Quezon City during the elections.

 

Board’s duty

 

            The rules governing the canvass of the certificates of votes in the Constitution (Article VII, Section 4) and the pertinent laws on the matter define one main thing. Our work as members of the Joint Congressional National Canvassing Board is to determine the ‘due execution and authenticity’ of the certificates of canvass electronically sent to us.

 

In layman’s language that means that we are obliged to find out if the certificates sent to us were prepared properly by the persons (members of the provincial and city Board of Election Inspectors) authorized by law to do so and were true, real or genuine. If there are alterations, erasures or indications that the certificates had been tampered with, the Constitution and the pertinent laws mandate that we disregard the certificates concerned.

 

While the erroneous dates on the closure of the polls inscribed on some certificates of canvass as mentioned above did not strictly speaking refer to the number of votes the candidates received or the names of the candidates voted for in the places covered by the canvass, the thing is that those erroneous dates were a tell-tale sign that something was grievously wrong with the machines that tallied the votes and transmitted them electronically to the Joint Congressional National Canvass Center.

 

Signs of tampering?

 

The errors in the dates of the closure of polls, I submit, indicated that the PCOS machines could have been tampered with or that the machines simply committed errors that corrupted the documents, i.e., the certificates of canvass they had sent to us. If erasures or alterations in the certificates of canvass in the old manual voting system that we followed in the past were deemed sufficient to cause the rejection of the certificates of canvass concerned, why should the error-filled electronically generated certificates of canvass although machine-caused (on the dates of the closure of the polls) be considered valid?

 

As explained by Philippine Computer Society Director Edmundo Casino:

 

“The Inaccurate Date and Time stamped reflected on some Election Returns (ERs) that were transmitted to the subsequent level of board of canvassers as stipulated in the applicable laws[3] cannot (be excused by) Smartmatic (the vendor of the machines) that their operator may have altered or the machines were inevitably ‘shaken’ (when transported to the Philippines). The same vendor, after all, had asserted that all PCOS machines were tested 100 % for their durability in the Shanghai manufacturing plant and that the system clock is affixed and aligned to a global time zone, i. e. 8 hours from GMT (Manila-Beijing-Singapore Time). The normal reset of the system clock by default will bring it to 01-01-10 which is January 1, 2001, not January 27, 2010 or April 28, 2010 or May 3, 2010.

 

“The only plausible explanation for this (anomaly) is that some cloned or similar PCOS devices (were) used for scanning counterfeit ballots printed elsewhere in some clandestine areas so that the erroneous number of votes of the candidate(s) for local or national positions on the dates and times shown in the Election Returns were recorded and captured as if they were genuinely ‘original’ in the CF memory card. And possibly during Election Day, the CF Card bearing the pre-scanned and pre-counted results could have been switched with unused and real CF card.”

 

Egregious error

 

There was one other egregious error that staggered the imagination and defied any explanation on the reliability of the PCOS machines.

 

It had to do with the initialization electronically sent message from the Comelec to the Senate President dated May 10, 2010. In simple terms the initialization message was meant to alert the Senate through the Senate President that the server in the custody of the Senate could now be activated to do its functions.

 

The initialization message, however, had a most glaring blunder. It recorded the voting population of the Philippines at 256,733,195 or roughly more than five times the true figure of 51 million.

 

I thought out aloud for all to hear that the figures probably referred to Indonesia that sent some in the audience tittering and Cesar Flores, the Venezuelan Smartmatic official, shifting uneasily on his seat.

 

Asked to explain the error, Flores, who usually spoke for Smartmatic before public forums and even before the National Canvassing Board gave what amounted to a non-explanation that aggravated the situation.

 

Flores’s clarification was unintelligible. His answer merely blamed the PCOS machine concerned for mechanically multiplying the real number of the registered voters of the country five times. He did not respond to the more fundamental question of why did it happen? Why was the factor of “five” used?  Who did it? And why was it not detected earlier than later by an automated election system that was supposedly certified to be accurate, fast and reliable?

 

We underscored the adverb, supposedly, to qualify the word ‘certified’ for the reason that the certification issued by the Technical Evaluation Committee of the Comelec was essentially based the certification on the Systest Lab, Inc., a U.S. based systems test company. And Systest Lab listed down a number of devices – ‘compensating controls’ – that had to be imbedded in the PCOS machines to enable them to function with a 99.995 percent accuracy.

 

Those compensating controls were not installed according to the Philippine Computer Society.

 

Small wonder that Ambassador Tita de Villa, head of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) reported to the Joint National Canvassing Board that on the average errors recorded by the PCOS machines was .007%, not .005% that was demanded by the contract between Smartmatic, the PCOS machines provider and the Comelec, the government agency in charge of ensuring orderly, clean and honest automated elections in the country.

 

Rational explanation

 

Casino had a more rational explanation for the blatant mistake.

 

The erroneous numbers of Registered Voters of 256 million odd entered in the Senate Consolidation and Canvassing System (CCS) defies the claimed accuracy of the system procured from the vendor.

 

“Section 7 of RA 9369 (amended as Section 6) under the heading Minimum System Capabilities stipulates that the automated election system (AES) must have, among other things, at least, the following functional capabilities:

 

“1. Accuracy in recording and reading of votes as well as in the tabulation, consolidation and canvassing, electronic transmission, and storage of results;

 

“2. System integrity which ensures physical stability and functioning of the vote recording and counting process;

 

“3. System auditability which provides supporting documentation for verifying the correctness of reported election results; etc.”

 

Casino argued further that “Given the unacceptable error of this magnitude, the issue of Smartmatic’s capability to deliver a reliable product that was clearly stated in Section 10 of RA 9369 (amended as Section 12) under the heading Procurement of Equipment and Materials, comes to the fore.

 

That section of the law stipulated that “With respect to the May 10, 2010 election and succeeding electoral exercises, the system procured must have demonstrated capability and been successfully used in a prior electoral exercise here or abroad.

 

“Participation in the 2007 pilot exercise shall not be conclusive of the system's fitness.

 

“If the vendor Smartmatic claims they are the experts in election systems, why would such blatant error manifest itself in the halls of the Senate on an actual live run?”

 

Casino’s thesis is that Smartmatic that supplied us the PCOS machines had not shown that the company’s system had been successfully demonstrated either here or elsewhere.

 

Other missteps

 

There were other specific missteps that were committed separately by either Smartmatic or Comelec, or, jointly by both entities.

 

Examples follow:

 

1.     The arbitrary removal of security safeguards like the digital signatures of the Board of Election Inspectors that were supposed to accompany the electronically sent canvass reports from the provinces and the cities.

 

The deletion of the digital signatures mentioned above made our work as members of the National Canvassing Board more complicated. We could not immediately determine the due execution and authenticity of the COCs we were canvassing simply by looking over the documents.

 

2.     The nonuse of the portable UV lamps that were supposed to spot spurious ballots even before their insertion into the PCOS voting machines in the precincts.

The non-obligatory use of the portable UV lamps put into doubt the validity and accuracy of the COCs sent to the Joint Congressional Canvass Board.

 

3.     The Disabling of the Ultra Violet (UV) Lamps in the PCOS machines.

 

The disconnection of the UV lamps in the PCOS machines apparently laid the basis for COMELEC’s conducting an emergency procurement of the portable UV lamps worth 30 million pesos. The portable UV lamps were not used by the BEI or who did not know the UV lamps’ uses.

 

4.     The relaxation of the original intent to require the use of UV ink.

 

The use of the UV ink was meant to ensure the machine will only read official ballots printed by the authorize National Printing Office (NPO) per Section 13 of RA 9369 (amended as Section 15) under the title, Official Ballot.

 

            The section states that “With respect to a paper-based election system, the official ballots shall be printed by the National Printing Office and/or the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas at the price comparable with that of private printers under proper security measures which the Commission shall adopt. The Commission may contact the services of private printers upon certification by the National Printing Office/Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas that it cannot meet the printing requirements.

 

              Accredited political parties and deputized citizen's arms of the Commission shall assign watchers in the printing, storage and distribution of official ballots.

 

“To prevent the use of fake ballots, the Commission through the Committee shall ensure that the necessary safeguards, such as, but not limited to, bar codes, holograms, color shifting ink, microprinting, are provided on the ballot.

 

      “Since the UV reader of the PCOS machines was disengaged the probability that fake ballots were manufactured and used fraudulently and scrupulously is high.”

 

           “5. The non-audit of the CF cards used in the PCOS machines throughout the nation in the elections.

 

      The CF cards were supposed to be audited for the purpose of removing doubts on their reliability. That the CF cards were not audited raises concerns that some of the COCs sent to the Joint Congressional Canvass Board might have been manipulated.

 

       “6. The non-fulfillment with the manual audit set by the Comelec of five of the         elective positions in selected precincts.

 

“The failure of the Comelec to conduct a manual audit of the votes for the president, vice president, members of congress, governor and mayor creates mistrust about the sincerity of the Comelec to verify the accuracy of the electoral count and heightens the people’s anxiety over the possibility that the automated election results may not be that accurate.

 

     “7. The failure of the AES to follow a “laderized system” of transmission of the results of the elections.

 

      “The omission adds to the perception of confusion in the summation of the results of the elections.

 

      “The so-called laderized transmission system means that:

 

      “(a) The first transmissions are from the PCOS in the precincts to the city/municipality consolidation and canvassing servers;

 

      “(b) The second transmissions come from the MCCS to the Provincial/District PCCS; and

 

      “(c) The third transmissions emanate from the PCCS to the Comelec and Congressional National Board of Canvassers servers.

 

      “The existence of other servers such as those assigned for the use of the KBP/Majority-Minority parties/PPCRV and the Comelec ‘back-up’ servers is an admitted fact.”

 

Unofficial results

 

      These PCOS machines, however, transmitted ‘unofficial results’ at the ER level where consolidation was not supposed to take place. But surprisingly PPCRV made a quick count from the consolidated unofficial results and so did the Comelec from their servers.

 

      The consolidations of the ERs were legally infirm.

 

      “It is NOT only the direction to which the transmissions were sent by the PCOS to the MCCS which were important but also the transmission sequence.  Transmissions from the PCOS SHOULD have been done FIRST towards the direction of the MCCS and not anywhere else.  What in fact happened was that the PCOS machines at the precincts transmitted the results to whatever communications link was available, thereby, bypassing the MCCS at times when the link to it was not working. This was in violation of the law that specified that the ladderized system was strictly to be followed.”

 

The rationale for the ladderized transmissions according to an IT person is that it is easier to collude with one set of people in the central server than to do so with 1,631 sets of people.

 

On Election Day “the PCOS were allowed to transmit to any of the three official transmission receivers depending on so-called link availability.”

 

Transmission logs

 

To establish the trustworthiness and credibility of the electronically transmitted election results, we need to request the transmission logs from the Telecommunications Carriers to verify if such transfer of electronic data did occur between the PCOS to the CCS.

 

There is also a need for the people to know if the reconfiguration on the recalled CF cards did take place. The reconfiguration took place too close to Election Day. This matter was not verified and certified extensively.

 

This morning, I was told by Nikki Perlas that the forensic examination of six of the PCOS in the custody of the Senate showed that their ‘hash codes’ did not match the ‘hash codes’ of the machines as listed in the records of the Comelec/Smartmatic.

 

Man-made anomaly

 

            The dumping of CF cards and other election materials into the garbage landfill in Cagayan de Oro City a day or two after Election Day is an established fact. Four CF cards were recovered as well as assorted Election Returns and other election-related documents from the dumpsite as well as from a junk shop in the city.

                      

            That manner of disposal of election paraphernalia was a clear violation of Republic Act No. 9369 Section 28 (amended as Section 35) under the heading Prohibited Acts and Penalties.  Paragraph (c) of the section restricts acts “Gaining or causing access to using, altering, destroying or disclosing any computer data, program, system software, network, or any computer-related devices, facilities, hardware or equipment, whether classified or declassified.”

 

            Incidentally, the Cagayan de Oro incident is material to our work in the National Canvassing Board even for the simple fact that CF cards were thrown along with other election documents into the dumpsite. The CF cards as we now know contained the votes not only of local officials but also of those running for national positions including the presidency and the vice presidency – votes that we were canvassing.

 

Promise unfulfilled

 

Happily, the election paraphernalia – I would say, at least, some of them – were heroically retrieved by Fr. Nathan Lerio, the PPCRV representative. Unfortunately, Fr. Lerio did not fulfill his promise to me that he would attend a hearing scheduled by the National Canvassing Board and turn over to us the CF cards in the company of Ambassador de Villa and some other legal personalities of the PPCRV.

 

In the end, under time constraints, we had to hear only the testimony of lawyer Gina Luna Zayas-Sabio, city election office of Cagayan de Oro.        

 

Stolen?   

 

At first Ms. Zayas-Sabio gave the alibi that the election materials were stolen. In this regard, she was rebuffed by the official report of the Cagayan de Oro Police (a copy of which was personally handed by me to Comelec Commissioner Larrazabal). The police report categorically stated that there were absolutely no signs of burglary or theft of the election materials in the Comelec Office in Cagayan de Oro.

 

            Then, in an attempt to evade responsibility for the loss of the election materials from their office, Zayas-Sabio said in a subsequent public statement covered by the media that anyway, those materials were no longer needed or important because their contents had already been electronically sent to the Comelec/Smartmatic servers in Manila.

 

In that respect, she told the truth. But it is clear that under the pertinent laws, the personnel manning the Comelec office in Cagayan de Oro City are primarily responsible for the preservation and safekeeping of the election materials concerned.

 

Liable

 

Furthermore, provisions in COMELEC Resolution 8823 dated April 23, 2010, COMELEC   Resolution 8786 dated March 4, 2010 in particular Section 41 with the heading Disposition of Election Returns, as well as COMELEC Resolution 8809 dated March 30, 2010, were not observed. In brief, it was the obligation of the Comelec officials of Cagayan de Oro City to preserve those election paraphernalia and not dispose of them in a manner not authorized by law.

 

            They are liable for violation of the pertinent provisions of those election laws and even of the article of the Revised Penal Code for infidelity in the custody of public documents.

 

            Comelec officials in Manila are urged not turn a blind eye to that glaring misdeed of their Cagayan de Oro City personnel and cover-up for them.  Whoever is responsible should be punished. That is just about the only way the Comelec may regain the credibility they had lost in the past.

 

Summing up

      

Following is a summary of how the AES Fared in 17 areas in relation to the Attributes of Trustworthy Elections[4]:

1 Democracy

1.1 Metric : one eligible voter can cast one vote

1.2 Verdict: Failed.  Voters' lists were still bloated with double and multiple registrations.  Many qualified voters were disenfranchised.

 

2 Accuracy

2.1 Metric: the final vote count should reflect the intent of voters

2.2 Verdict: Failed.  Accuracy of the results is doubtful. All measures to assure accuracy were blocked.

 

3 Security

3.1 Metric: measures were supposed to be in place to protect the integrity of the process.

3.2 Verdict:  Failed miserably.  All layers of security were removed.

 

4 Secrecy

4.1 Metric: no vote could be traced to the voter.

            4.2 Verdict: Failed.  The long ballot made this difficult.

 

5 Verifiability/auditability

5.1 Metric: the vote results could be verified and the validity proven after  the initial count

5.2 Verdict: Miserably failed.  The Random Manual Audit was a farce.  Wrong methodology. Almost a month after the elections, still no clear results have been reported.

 

6 Privacy/confidentiality

6.1 Metric: information collected on voters should used for election purposes only and within the scope for which it was collected

6.2 Verdict: Undetermined.

 

7 Transparency

7.1 Metric: the process should be open to outside scrutiny

7.2 Verdict: Failed miserably.  All avenues for reviewing system such as the source code review were blocked.  Voter verification feature was removed.  CF cards were flying all over.

 

 

8 Accessibility

8.1 Metric: the reasonable, specific needs of eligible voters should have been taken into account so that none are disenfranchised

8.2 Verdict: Failed miserably as attested by the kilometric voter queues and the super delicateness of the ballot and the difficulty to register votes as attested by the 2.6 million null votes

 

9 Neutrality

9.1 Metric: electoral processes or materials should not favor one candidate or party over another

9.2 Verdict: Failed.  The reconfiguration of the ballot might have given favorable edge for some candidates.  

 

10 Simplicity

10.1 Metric: the voting processes should not make voting unduly complicated

10.2 Verdict: Failed.  Ballot was too long to navigate easily and difficult to mark specially for senior and less educated voters.  No second-cjance voting allowed (if the first ballot was accidentally damaged).  No alerting message if the voter over- or under-voted. And no second ballot to replace damaged one.

 

11 Flexibility

11.1 Metric: the voting process should be able to handle a variety of ballot styles and counting formats

11.2 Verdict: Passed. There were 9 to 11 canvassing models and some 2,000 ballot face variations.

 

12 Scalability

12.1 Metric: the voting process could be scaled to handle large and small electoral events

12.2 Verdict: Passed.  The system used industry standard servers and adopted the EML standards.

 

13 Recoverability

13.1 Metric: the voting process should provide for duplication of systems to prevent data loss

13.2 Verdict:  Passed.  The system implemented high availability and back up redundancies in the data processing and data communications aspects.

 

14 Mobility

14.1 Metric: the voting process should provide for votes to be cast from locations other than the traditional polling station

14.2 Verdict: Not rated for the law does not yet allow this.

 

15 Speed of count

15.1 Metric: results should be reported quickly

15.2 Verdict: Miserably failed.  Except for the election night announcement of quick count by Comelec which had doubtful source and progeny. In fact, the elections are not yet finished close to one month after May 10. Example: Lanao del Sur where up to yesterday, June 8, there were still a number of barangays where special elections still had to be set and held.

 

16 Cost-effectiveness

16.1 Metric: the voting process should be effective and economical

16.2 Failed.  For the cost per voter was excessively high by international standards - PHP 285 or USD 6.  Plus we don't even now own the system but just leased it for this ONE election Verdict:.

 

17 Technical durability

17.1 Metric: the voting process should allow the basic electoral infrastructure to be reasonably insulated from obsolescence

17.2 Verdict: Passed.  Hardware, software and data adhered to internationally accepted standards.

 

In view of the foregoing premises, we wonder if the Comelec/PPCRV and Smartmatic could guarantee that all the Certificates of Canvass that were used for the official canvassing and proclamation of the Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates were duly executed and authentic? And may the Comelec/PPCRV and Smartmatic now unequivocably guarantee the effectiveness and efficiency of the automated election system (AES) by the use of the PCOS machines for future elections?

 

Plug loopholes

 

That said, let me restate that the only reason why we took pains to record, at least, some of the deficiencies of the PCOS machines is to prod our government to plug the loopholes in the AES that was used in the 2010 elections.

 

While some of the cited anomalies are rather serious, the remedies may lie in appropriate presidential or vice presidential protests and in the prosecution of those responsible for them, and, probably in correcting by legislation the infirmities that attended the electronic elections of 2010.

 

Call of the moment

 

The call of the moment, however, is for the proclamation of the winning presidential and vice presidential candidates.

 

Proclaiming the winners without delay will ease the anxieties of the partisans of the candidates, lessen the tensions among the people, help stabilize the nation and allow the government to deliver the essential services needed by the people in their daily lives.

 

Prayer

 

We pray that the Lord of the Universe will bless and guide the two top leaders of the country for the sake of national welfare and the individual advancement of the rights of our people.

 

Before we end this explanation, let me put into the record my personal gratitude to the Chairs of the Joint Congressional Canvassing Board and my fellow members of the Board for their fair and gracious handling of the canvass proceedings.

 

It should be stressed, however, that the right of the people to seek redress for any perceived or real irregularities in the conduct of the last elections is open and available to the aggrieved party or parties before the proper tribunals created by law.  

 

Salamat po.


[1] PDP-Laban (Pilipino Democratic Party-Lakas ng Bayan) founded in 1982 to provide the people with a non-violent alternative to the Marcos dictatorship.

[2] Full name of machine: Dominion Voting Image cast Precinct Count Optical Scan

[3] RA 9369 particularly Section 19 (amended as Section 22) with heading Election Returns, Section 20 (amended as Section 25) with heading Canvassing by Provincial, City, District and Municipal Board of Canvassers, Section 21 (amended as Section 25) with heading Number of Certificates of Canvass of Votes and their Distribution, Section 23 (amended as Section 28) with heading Congress as the National Board of Canvassers for President and Vice president.

[4] Based on the work of IT specialists Klynveld, Peat, Marwick and Goerdeler.



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