Political Tidbits is the prestigious column of Belinda Olivares-Cunanan that ran for 25 continuous years in the op-ed page of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the newspaper that she helped put up with its multi-awarded founder, the legendary Eugenia Duran-Apostol, in December 1985, just two months before the EDSA Revolution.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

P-Noy should give up his gun passion---at least while he’s President. Differing with Kaka Bag-Ao on third point---lousy timing of pork releases for Dinagat, just as she forsakes Akbayan and signs up as LP. Bishops support investigation of PCOS anomalies. Do they realize that 11% of 76,000 clustered precincts across the country in 2010---or 8,360 clustered precincts--- had no transmissions, and that 5% or 3,500 such precincts registered only 10 voters each? Who really won the 2010 elections?

Stephanie Nicole Ella
The heart-wrenching death of Stephanie Nicole Ella and the wounding of many people by stray bullets on New Year’s Eve, the slaying or wounding of a dozen people by a drug-crazed man in Cavite, and the horrible shootout between lawmen and alleged members of a jueteng syndicate in Quezon have thrown the nation into deep soul-searching about loose firearms.

This reality becomes even more frightening with the election period for the 2013 elections commencing this Sunday, Jan. 13---when politicos’ heavily-armed bodyguards and private armies would be running around.

All these have triggered calls for various manner of controlling loose firearms---from passing a tougher gun-control law for private citizens all the way to a total ban on firearms except to those duly authorized.    


Naturally any talk of tougher gun control would focus on President Aquino, who has the reputation for being an avid gun-enthusiast and expert shooter (he’s known to go target-shooting every weekend and beats military and police top brass at competitions). Various quarters, including an opposition congressman, have called on P-Noy to show an example of detachment by forsaking his gun passion---at least while he’s President.

Deputy spokesperson Abigail Valte resents this tendency to “pigeon-hole” the President on this issue or to prejudge his stand on it. She cited how critics prejudged him as going easy on smokers, being a heavy smoker himself, but he still pushed hard for the sin tax bill. The same on gun control, she said.


But Malacanang should realize that P-Noy is expected to be the role model on behavior, be it on smoking or on gun-control. The sin tax bill was pushed despite resistance from the Ilocos and liquor companies in order to safeguard people’s health from the hazards of smoking and drinking, and to raise P35 billion annually in taxes for the fund-starved government.

But how tough it is to coax especially the young people to quit smoking when their President is addicted to it. In the same manner, how tough it is to preach tighter gun-control or to abandon a gun-mentality when he’s photographed with his barkada firing away as a weekly hobby.


Today the Star carried a front-page story about how four boys aged 15 to 16 were arrested in the New Bilibid Prison area, for allegedly trying to rob motorists using handmade guns. Police were quoted as saying the youngsters would force motorists to stop by throwing rocks at them, and then rob them, armed with the makeshift weapons.

The President is the father of the nation, and he’s being asked to junk two habits that he relishes con gusto, to set the example. Could anyone imagine the impact on those four erring teenagers, for instance, if P-Noy were to tell them, "Ok., I'll put away my guns, but so should you. Deal or no deal?" 


Like hundreds of anti-RH folks I staked out in the “red” gallery in the House for weeks, monitoring the debates.  One day Akbayan party-list Rep. Arlene “Kaka” Bag-Ao passed by and we chatted. I told this Ateneo-trained lawyer that I considered her perhaps the most competent of the House prosecutors in the Corona impeachment trial (most of them were lousy, necessitating hiring of private lawyers), and that it was too bad she was on the “other side.” Kaka smiled and said, “Now here again on the RH bill, we’re on opposite sides.” Of course, I replied.  

Now I differ on a third issue with Bag-Ao---or rather, with Speaker Feliciano Belmonte. The House Chief appointed Bag-Ao “caretaker” of the new island province of Dinagat, following the Supreme Court’s upholding of the Sandiganbayan’s guilty verdict on Rep. Ruben Ecleo for corruption. Ecleo was stricken off the House roster, but not only was Bag-Ao appointed in his place---she also worked for and immediately received P140 million representing Ecleo’s withheld two-year pork barrel, even before the ink of her LP sign-up had dried.


Reports said Bag-Ao,  a native of Dinagat, has resigned from that most privileged "party of the poor," Akbayan, and joined LP to run for Dinagat's lone district in 2013. She was quoted as vowing she will not use the P140 million pork barrel in aid of her election; but reports said she immediately went to construct a road, bridges and water projects, and bought 77 multi-cabs, ambulances and even six SUVs. 

The Palace justified Bag-Ao's appointment as "entirely a legislative prerogative." But obviously it's a reward for her participation in the Corona impeachment and unflinching support for the RH bill. 

Rep. Mitos Magsaysay
What rankles most in her case is that the LP once again gives another example of riding roughshod on public opinion. As in the Gwen Garcia case in Cebu, the party in power doesn’t seem to give a hoot if people view the special treatment of Bag-Ao---and the immediate release of Ecleo's withheld P140 million to her to jumpstart her campaign for her House seat in Dinagat--- as another power muscle-flexing.

This is in sharp contrast to the shabby treatment of opposition reps like Mitos Magsaysay and Dato Arroyo who have been deprived of their pork barrel funds for the third year now.  Other leftist groups such as Bayan Muna, Anakbayan, Gabriela, ACT and Anakpawis are also roaring mad, for they all got collectively only P670 million. Snorted Anakbayan: Bag-Ao's P140 million is "slush fund for the 2013 elections." 


I’m glad CBCP President and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma has affirmed the CBCP's support to investigate allegations of manipulative fraud with the use of the PCOS machines. I understand this is one of the issues CBCP will be looking at in its General Assembly on Jan.25-27.  

The bishops realize that with the mid-term elections five months away, many of us citizens are frightfully concerned that Comelec appears to be surrendering---once again---the elections to possible manipulation through those PCOS machines with their horrible track record.


For instance, the bishops should know that out of the 76,000 “clustered” precincts across the country in the May 2010 elections 11% had NO transmissions to the Comelec server, while another 5% projected only 10 voters each.

On the other hand, Filipino IT experts note that last July 24-25, mock elections conducted at the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms clearly showed that the PCOS machines being tested failed to meet the required accuracy rate of 99.995%---attaining only 97.215% accuracy.

This discrepancy meant, according to IT experts, that there are 557 errors in 20,000 marks---contrary to the project’s terms of reference that allowed  PCOS only 1 error in 20,000 marks. Thus, said the IT experts, “This 557 error rate can make or unmake mayors, governors, congressmen, and the bottom half of councilors, provincial board members, and senators!”


Then too, recall that the weekend before the May 10, 2010 elections, there was a loud howl across the nation when it was discovered that many of the compact flash cards (CF cards) were found to be defective. Smartmatic went through the motions of replacing kuno all the CF-cards in the 76,000 clustered precincts, but we all know that was not humanly possible in our islands.

Now Comelec has contracted Smartmatic to devise those CF cards once again for the tidy sum of P531 million. This is like banging our heads a second time against the wall. As one FB contributor put it, “There must be many millions of reasons why Comelec would do this.”

These and many more failings clearly left the automated elections of 2010 open to manipulation by unscrupulous elements. In fact, query being raised now is: WHO REALLY WON THE  2010 ELECTIONS?


The best evidence that things went wrong with the PCOS machines in 2010 is the complaint Smartmatic itself filed vs. Dominion Voting Systems, the real owner of the automated election system (AES) technology, last May 2012 in the Delaware Chancery Court, USA for alleged breach of contract. In that complaint Smartmatic incredibly admitted all the sins that Filipino IT experts have accused it of committing in 2010---but this time it blamed Dominion for all those sins!

The biggest sin in that complaint was that Dominion WITHHELD the SOURCE CODE, the operating bible of the AES. Until that detail surfaced in its complaint vs. Dominion, Smartmatic had been claiming that the source code was deposited in Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. This was why, despite the order of the Supreme Court itself upon petition of the IT experts, Smartmatic couldn't produce the source code. Wala pala sa kanila!

Smartmatic, it seems, had been lying all along to the Comelec, the SC and the Filipino people.

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