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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.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Gordon and Bagumbayan-VNP file on behalf of all of us in this republic urgent omnibus motion before SC, seeking digital copy of source code used in recent elections, to compare it with Dominion source code. They also seek TRO vs. Comelec’s removal of PCOS machines from wherever these were used across the nation and their transfer to Comelec’s warehouses---to prevent tampering of their contents and software. At risk of accusation of sour-graping, Gordon should go on with his crusade.


Canvassed election results in 18 towns in Bohol,
 consistent with "linear pattern" in other parts of the country

If the Comelec Commissioners think that the citizens’ struggle to have clean and honest elections is over with the premature proclamation of 12 senators based on incomplete, grouped canvass, they have another thing coming. This afternoon the political party Bagumbayan-VNP Movement, represented by its president, Leon B. Herrera, and senatorial candidate Richard Gordon filed a history-making and epochal Urgent Omnibus Motion before the Supreme Court. 


This urgent motion will be a stiff test of the High Court’s cognizance of the demands of the people for true and honest results of the recent elections---particularly in the light of shocking disclosures in social media that the PCOS machines appear to have been pre-programmed to produce a 60-30-10 result in the senatorial elections across the country (60% for the LP coalition, 30% for UNA and 10% for independent candidates).

This “linear arrangement” appears to have been consistent through various canvassing results---as observed by IT experts, Ateneo mathematics professor Lex Muga and computer technology students such as Mikko Gozalo.

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This 60-30-10 linear arrangement of senatorial results, with very negligible variances, seems to be reflected in various parts of the country, such as Tacloban and Bohol.  Comelec Chief Sixto Brillantes has acknowledged this phenomenon, but calls it “trending na pataas at pababa.”  IT experts such as Dr. Pedro Manalastas and IT commentator and columnist Dr. Rene Azurin, however, have opined that such linear arrangement is “very highly improbable,” while analyst Malou Tiquia opines that this goes against our political culture and the history of Philippine elections.

Comelec Chair Brillantes has promised to look into it, but when he would do so he hasn’t said. Hence the urgent motion to the SC by Gordon et al.

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The Urgent Omnibus Motion asks for two things in its prayer.

One, that the SC orders Comelec to make available to the petitioners “a complete compilable digital copy of the Source Code for the Automated Election System used for the May 13, 2013 elections.”

As argued by Gordon's counsel, Rodolfo O. Reyes, the petitioners were compelled to ask the SC to order Comelec to give them a copy of the source code, because the latter continues to ignore their  request to review it.  Reyes recalled that a few days prior to the elections Comelec announced to the various interested parties and organizations that Dominion Voting Systems had already agreed to hand over the source code to Comelec and that this is now open for review.

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Richard J. Gordon

Earlier in the week before the May 13 elections senatorial candidate Richard J. Gordon filed an urgent motion before the High Court to stop the conduct of the elections until Comelec provides the political parties copies of the source code from Dominion. On May 8 the High Court held oral arguments and subsequently ordered Comelec to do so.  

Of course, this was just four days before the elections and as IT experts and media pointed out, Comelec’s invitation was virtually of little use, for a meaningful review of the source code would take from three to six months.

Lawyer Reyes nonetheless stressed that the following day, May 9, he wrote Comelec on behalf of Bagumbayan/Gordon, asking for the time and venue for viewing and reviewing this source code from Dominion, but that Comelec has continued to ignore this request until now.  Hence this urgent omnibus motion before the SC today.

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The second prayer before the High Court is for a TRO to stop Comelec from removing the PCOS machines used in the recent elections from “their respective precincts, schoolhouses or present whereabouts” and to prevent them from being transferred to the poll body’s “own or maintained storage facilities and/or opening up or otherwise tampering with the components, contents and software encoded into said machines.”

This second petition is made, asserted petitioners Bagumbayan-VNP and Gordon, on behalf of the Filipino people, to “preserve (their) legal right to determine whether or not the Source Code encoded, loaded and or compiled into the said PCOS machines used in the May 13, 2013 elections is IDENTICAL to the Source Code to be provided by the Respondents (Comelec) to Petitioners (emphasis mine).

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Gordon et al. said they deemed it best to petition the SC to order the PCOS machines retained wherever they were used in the last elections---“lest (the people's) statutory rights be rendered nugatory.” In plain language, Gordon et al. fear that moving the PCOS machines physically from the election premises could lead to tampering with the results registered in those machines.

Their fear, however, may aggravate in the light of a story by RG Cruz in ABS-CBN News earlier today that “reverse deployment” of the PCOS meachines is being undertaken, i.e., they are being shipped back to the warehouse in Laguna. RG Cruz may be referring to the Smartmatic warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna where the PCOS machines have been kept all these years since the 2010 elections, and for which Comelec was charged warehouse fees of a whopping P400 million. I question Comelec's paying these fees for they should have been shouldered by the PCOS vendor, Smartmatic. Comelec was again made a sucker by the smart Smartmatic.

According to RG Cruz, the warehouse contract expires June 30, but that on the other hand, Comelec has a pending expropriation case on the Cabuyao warehouse. Hence, it’s is now looking for other warehouses in Subic, Clark, Muntinlupa and Paranaque.

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In the light of all these developments, the omnibus motion before the SC filed by Leon Herrera of Bagumbayan-VNP and Dick Gordon becomes even more urgent and imbued with enormous significance for our democracy.  Of all the recent developments, however, the need to preserve the integrity of the election data inside the PCOS machines is, to me, the most urgent as it would have a bearing on the true results of the elections.
I commend Richard Gordon for bravely taking this initiative of protecting the integrity of the PCOS data before the High Tribunal---even at the risk of looking like he's sour-graping, having landed No. 13 in the much-disputed Comelec tally based on incomplete returns (over a million still unaccounted for as of today).

Let’s hope and pray the SC listens to the fervent clamor of our people for the true and honest results of the elections.

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