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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.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

De Lima gains pogi points from what seems a determined pursuit of the law in expelled INC Minister's complaint vs.church top brass. Would this get her into list of winning senatorial candidates? INC in steely test of wills with administration, but this sect much sought after by politicos for 'command vote' will never be the same again. FVR cites near-civil war in two People Power uprisings, but bats for parliamentary system as more orderly way to change leaders. I agree.





Last Friday night, hearing that the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) crowds had abandoned the Department of Justice premises and massed at the corner of EDSA and Shaw Blvd. in Pasig,  a few friends and I trooped there, braving the Friday night traffic. We got there a little after 9pm.and saw big groups heading in the same direction. I had no idea what would turn out that night as some commentators were already raising the possibility of another EDSA people power.  Being a veteran of  two previous EDSA uprisings, I didn’t want to miss being at the ringside of a potential one. 

What I saw was already formidable that night: thick crowds sitting on the street in mats while many more continued to pour in a continued stream from all directions. One thing with the INC that one cannot help but admire is their ability to weather various conditions: fatigue, hunger, cold and even rain. Many were young and able-bodied and there was a buoyant atmosphere among them, spirits high. 

I walked around, talking to people, and a middle-aged man explained in reply that they were fighting for their common belief, by now well-articulated in the media:  that they were defending the separation of church and state and that the administration, represented by Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, should respect this principle. “Huwag nila kaming pakialaman,” he said adamantly. To this my friends and I managed to diplomatically keep our mouths shut.

Looking at the vast humanity assembled at Edsa-Shaw Blvd. that night, I remembered Albert Camus' admonition: "Let us put ourselves at the service not of those who MAKE history but of those who SUFFER it" (emphasis BOC's).

XXX

I must confess that at that point I had not been following the INC issue all that assiduously and that night I just listened to various uniform views among the crowds. Later at home I read back issues of newspapers and updated myself in the internet and I readily saw that Secretary De Lima had a basic point.

I was never a fan of hers, and in fact on many occasions I took strong issue with her on her selective justice on the DAP issue, the way she twisted up the commander-in-chief principle in the Mamasapano case, just to exculpate her boss from guilt and responsibility, and other issues. But on the issue of giving due course to the formal illegal detention complaint filed against leaders of the church with the DOJ by expelled INC minister Isaias Samson Jr. who was earlier fired from his job, I found myself agreeing with De Lima. Samson's complaint has to be given due process, as provided by law, and no one can be above it. 

XXX

But there's the counter-criticism by INC leaders that De Lima was just TOO OVER-EAGER to pay attention to the ex-minister’s complaint against church top guns. I can see that too---and here De Lima is entirely to blame. She has dragged her foot on so many more critical issues, such as bringing to justice not just the opposition leaders in the DAP issue, but many allied with the Aquino administration. 

Suddenly, "Dilemma" appears to be fast-tracking on ex-INC minister Samson’s complaint.  Kataka-takaka nga naman given her usual lackadaisical style. The INC is particularly incensed about the lack of justice for the Fallen 44 SAF members in the Mamasapano case, as two of those heroes came from the INC's ranks.

XXX

For one thing, it seems impolitic for her to push this complaint.  In nine months, unless there is Divine Intervention in the form of a successful parliamentary shift,  general elections will be held. Knowing that the P-Noy administration wants rather desperately to get its line-up elected,  most especially the possible successor of P-Noy,  it would not have been surprising if De Lima sat on the ex-minister’s complaint and played ball with the INC top brass. 

But the INC leadership’s perception is that she’s pushing the resolutuion of the expelled minister's complaint too darned hard; to be fair to De Lima, her eagerness to resolve the complaint is laudable.  Suddenly many who hate this feisty woman's guts suddenly turned admirers of her seeming pursuit of the law. Would this usher her into the winning senatorial list? Too early to tell at this point---she'll sink or swim with the P-Noy administration.  

XXX

But I also look at this incident as indicative that our politicians are recognizing a most unusual phenomenon in our midst: the beginning of the end of the cohesiveness of the Iglesia ni Cristo. Unlike other churches, most prominent among them the Catholic Church, which are not solid in their political activities and inclinations, the INC for decades has commanded a solid vote. This has made this sect the prize object for politicians  most specially at the local level, and in close  congressional races where a couple of thousand votes would matter. 

This command vote phenomenon has also given the INC the clout to be able to corner appointments in various levels of government high and low.

In recent months, however,  the nation has witnessed startling divisions in its ranks, resulting in schism in its leadership, such as the expulsion of the mother and brother of current Supremo, Ka Eduardo Manalo, and the outspokenness of many adherents on issues such as the alleged corruption, extravagance and high living among the church top brass. Just how deep and irreparable that schism is in this once-monolithic church is hard to tell at this point. 

But one thing clear: we are indeed witnessing a socio-religious phenomenon in our midst, that behavioral and political scientists will be studying in future years. This early it’s easy to see that the INC, like Humpty Dumpty after the fall, would never be the same again.

XXX


Former President Fidel Ramos was the guest at the monthly forum of the Philippine Constitutional Association (Philconsa) in Makati a few days ago, but as I noted in Facebook, it was not his formal speech but the open forum  afterwards that held the audience in rapt attention for two hours. Suffice it to say that FVR had been sorely missed all these recent years of nondescript leadership.

Let me just cite a few points from that Philconsa session.  FVR opined that the Filipino nation “risked civil war on two occasions in recent years: in the Edsa People Power Revolution of 1986 (where he and former Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile were the major participants) and 2001 when a second People Power Revolution ousted a sitting president and ushered in a new one. 

FVR pointed out that the 1986 People Power triggered so much reaction around the world, so that by 1989, when President Cory conferred the conference of new democracies, there were 14 newly-restored democracies. Nevertheless, those two big "civil war risks of ours," said FVR, illustrated “the violent ways of changing our leadership,” when to his mind, the parliamentary system is far better as it’s orderly and avoids the “wrenching traumas” even of (presidential) elections. FVR cites as a model of coalition government that of Germany under Chancellor Angela Merkel, which has brought that country to unprecedented heights of prosperity and peace. 

More FVR discussions in next blog. 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

One year ago today, the National Transformation Council (NTC) was launched in Lipa City by citizens from all over the country and all walks of life, calling for moral transformation of the rotten political system. With election fever sweeping the citizenry, question is raised: was the NTC just a stab in the dark, a voice crying in the wilderness, sound and fury signifying nothing? NTC asserts that nothing was lost of its efforts, for amid current political frenzy remains its burning desire to try to right the wrongs and carve a better future for the country we love.







                 Launch of the National Transformation Council a year ago in Lipa City


One year ago today, some 5,000 citizens from all walks of life and from all around the country launched in historic Lipa City the National Transformation Council (NTC). As its name suggested, the NTC, anchored on the strength and courage of its faith-based leaders from the Catholic, Prostestant and Muslim faiths, sought to transform our nation and people away from the corruption and political savaging that characterize our society, and institute a God-oriented people-focused system change. Various assemblies followed Lipa---Cebu, Butuan, Angeles, General Santos, Davao City and other places.

It has been a year since that fateful day at Lipa and instead of the system change that NTC sought, the nation is now caught up in political fever anticipating 2016; corruption has remained unabated and the political elite has muscled into power more than ever before, or even worse. Many institutions of the country have been wracked with dissensions and some even ruined, perhaps for a long while.

Thus, it's natural that after a year the query would be: Was NTC a mere pipe dream? Was it all for naught, a stab in the dark by political neophytes and the gloriously naive, by has-beens and what-nots?

Yesterday, in a gathering at Manila Hotel of NTC folks and kindred sentiments, assessment was made of the year that has come to a close and that inevitable query still seeking answers: was it a useless exercise, as nothing seems to have changed? The ruling elite seems more avid to consolidate power than ever before, so as to evade prosecution in the future.

The following statement issued by NTC at its first anniversary took a look-see and obviously did not believe that this citizen movement has become irrelevant. True, target goals were not achieved, but inroads have been made into the political, moral and ethical consciousness of many segments of the people---which is good enough for a first anniversary. Mahatma Gandhi did not march in one day, and so will NTC continue its march, its role as political conscience and moral compass. This is in the full belief that building a nation will have to be an unending work in progress, never an overnight phenomenon..

Please read the following statement issued by NTC on the First Anniversary of the Lipa Declaration, held at the Manila Hotel yesterday, Aug. 26, 2015, titled:

‘MORE THAN EVER, WE NEED A CARETAKER GOVERNMENT NOW!’


ONE YEAR AGO TOMORROW,  ON AUGUST 27, 2014, THE NATIONAL TRANSFORMATION COUNCIL  CONVENED ITS VERY FIRST ASSEMBLY IN LIPA CITY AND ISSUED ITS LANDMARK  LIPA DECLARATION.   AFTER LIPA CITY, SUCCESSIVE ASSEMBLIES WERE HELD IN CEBU, BUTUAN, ANGELES, DAVAO, GENERAL SANTOS, AND LIPA ONCE MORE, TO SPREAD THE URGENT CALL FOR  NATIONAL TRANSFORMATION.

VARIOUS GROUPS ACROSS THE NATION CAME FORWARD TO ECHO OUR CALL.  CEBU, MINDANAO AND CENTRAL LUZON WERE AMONG THE FIRST  TO RESPOND WITH GREAT ENTHUSIASM AND VIGOR.   TODAY  WE PAUSE TO CONSIDER HOW THE GOVERNMENT AND OUR PEOPLE HAVE RESPONDED TO OUR CALL.  

HOW VALID STANDS OUR CALL?  AS THE VARIOUS POLITICAL GROUPS PREPARE TO COMPETE FOR THE  2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS,  DOES  OUR CALL FOR  CHANGE STILL CARRY THE SAME WEIGHT  AND URGENCY AMONG OUR PEOPLE,  OR  HAS  IT BEEN COMPLETELY SET ASIDE AS IRRELEVANT IN THE ONGOING SHUFFLE  FOR POLITICAL POWER?

THIS WE MUST NOW ASCERTAIN.

IN LIPA, WE DECLARED THAT WE FACED A CRISIS OF UNPRECEDENTED PROPORTIONS.  WE SAW THE NATION IN GRAVE PERIL FROM THE VERY POLITICAL FORCES  ORDAINED TO PROTECT, PROMOTE AND ADVANCE THE NATION’S WELLBEING, BUT WHICH WERE AGGRESSIVELY UNDERMINING ITS MORAL, RELIGIOUS, SOCIAL, CULTURAL,  CONSTITUTIONAL AND LEGAL FOUNDATIONS.

WE SAW THAT UNBRIDLED AND UNPUNISHED CORRUPTION AND WIDESPREAD MISUSE OF POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC POWER IN ALL LAYERS OF SOCIETY HAD NOT ONLY DESTROYED OUR COMMON CONCEPTION OF RIGHT AND WRONG, GOOD AND BAD, JUST AND UNJUST, LEGAL AND ILLEGAL. IT HAD ALSO PUT OUR PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY THE POOR, AT THE MERCY OF THOSE WHO HAVE THE POWER TO DICTATE THE COURSE AND CONDUCT OF OUR DEVELOPMENT FOR THEIR OWN ENDS.

DESPITE THE CONSISTENT  PROTESTATIONS ABOUT MR. AQUINO’S SO-CALLED  “DAANG MATUWID”,  OFFICIAL CORRUPTION WENT UNCHECKED AND UNABATED TO THE POINT WHERE IT  NO LONGER SUFFICED  TO SAY  THE SYSTEM HAS BEEN THOROUGHLY CORRUPTED, BUT RATHER THAT “CORRUPTION HAS BECOME THE SYSTEM.”

FAR FROM PRESERVING AND DEFENDING THE CONSTITUTION AS HE SWORE TO DO WHEN HE ASSUMED OFFICE,  PRESIDENT B. S. AQUINO 3RD VIOLATED AND SUBVERTED IT BY CORRUPTING THE CONGRESS, INTIMIDATING THE JUDICIARY, TAKING OVER THE TREASURY, MANIPULATING THE AUTOMATED VOTING SYSTEM, AND PERVERTING THE CONSTITUTIONAL IMPEACHMENT PROCESS.

MR. AQUINO ALSO DAMAGED THE MORAL FABRIC OF THE NATION BY PHYSICALLY BRIBING MEMBERS OF CONGRESS NOT ONLY TO IMPEACH AND REMOVE A SITTING CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT, CHIEF JUSTICE RENATO CORONA, BUT ALSO TO ENACT A REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH LAW
WHICH PUTS THE STATE IN CONTROL OF THE REPRODUCTIVE FACULTIES OF MARRIED COUPLES, AND DISRESPECTS THE RIGHT TO LIFE OF HUMAN BEINGS AT THE EARLIEST AND MOST VULNERABLE STAGES OF THEIR LIVES,  IN DEFIANCE NOT ONLY OF THE CONSTITUTION, BUT ABOVE ALL OF THE MORAL LAW, THE CUSTOMS, CULTURE AND CONSCIENCES OF FILIPINOS.

THEREFORE, FAITHFUL TO THE OBJECTIVE MORAL LAW AND TO THE UNIVERSALLY HONORED CONSTITUTIONAL PRINCIPLE THAT SOVEREIGNTY RESIDES IN THE PEOPLE AND ALL GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY EMANATES FROM THEM, WE DECLARED THAT MR. AQUINO HAD LOST THE MORAL RIGHT TO LEAD THE NATION, AND HAD BECOME A DANGER TO THE PHILIPPINE DEMOCRATIC AND REPUBLICAN STATE AND TO THE PEACE, FREEDOM, SECURITY AND MORAL AND SPIRITUAL WELLBEING OF THE FILIPINO PEOPLE.

WE  FURTHER DECLARED THAT WE HAD LOST ALL TRUST AND CONFIDENCE IN MR. AQUINO AND CALLED UPON HIM TO IMMEDIATELY RELINQUISH HIS POSITION SO THAT WE COULD RESTORE THE BROKEN CONSTITUTIONAL SYSTEM BEFORE WE BEGIN TO CONSIDER ELECTING A NEW GOVERNMENT UNDER NORMAL POLITICAL CONDITIONS.

THE VARIOUS ASSEMBLIES THAT FOLLOWED IN OTHER PARTS OF THE COUNTRY REITERATED WITH GREATER VIGOR AND URGENCY THE CALL UPON MR. AQUINO TO STEP DOWN. THIS REACHED A HIGH  POINT AFTER THE JANUARY 20, 2015  MASSACRE IN  MAMASAPANO, MAGUINDANAO, IN WHICH 44 SPECIAL ACTION FORCE POLICE COMMANDOS PERISHED IN THE HANDS OF THE MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT AND THE BANGSAMORO ISLAMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERS AFTER THEY WERE DENIED REINFORCEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT, WHO ORDERED THE MILITARY UNITS TO STAND DOWN.

WITH SIMILAR INTENSITY AND URGENCY THE  ASSEMBLIES RENEWED THE CALL  UPON THE COUNCIL TO ESTABLISH A CARETAKER GOVERNMENT TO PRESIDE OVER THE  NEEDED SYSTEM CHANGE.  THE ROLE OF SUCH INTERIM BODY, THEY POINTED OUT, WILL NOT BE TO SUCCEED MR. AQUINO BUT SOLELY TO PREVENT THE CONTINUED DESTRUCTION OF OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM, AND TO REBUILD AND NOURISH BACK TO HEALTH ITS INSTITUTIONS, SO THAT ALL  COULD  FREELY JOIN THE POLITICAL COMPETITION LATER, WITHOUT THE DICE BEING LOADED IN ANYONE’S FAVOR.  AT THE VEY LEAST THE PEOPLE MUST BE GUARANTEED A TRULY FUNCTIONING, FRAUD-FREE ELECTORAL SYSTEM, OTHERWISE  WE SHOULD REFRAIN FROM HOLDING ANY FURTHER ELECTIONS.

TODAY, ONE YEAR AFTER THE LIPA DECLARATION,  WE HAVE TO ASK,  IS THERE ANYTHING WE SAID IN LIPA AND IN ALL THE OTHER ASSEMBLIES, THAT NOW APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN IN ERROR, OR IN EXCESS OF OUR CONSTITUTIONAL, MORAL AND PATRIOTIC  CONCERNS?  HAVE WE UNFAIRLY AND UNJUSTLY CONDEMNED THE AQUINO ADMINISTRATION, AND MISREAD  OUR  PEOPLE’S CAPABILITY TO STAND FOR OUR CONSTITUTION AND THE DIGNITY AND HONOR OF THE NATION?

NO, WE HAVE NOT.  THE AQUINO ADMINISTRATION HAS NOT SHOWN THE SLIGHTEST  DESIRE TO DO PENANCE FOR ITS GRIEVOUS WRONGS, AND MEND ITS WAYS.  AS IT APPROACHES THE END OF ITS BORROWED TIME, IT HAS SHOWN NO EFFORT, AND NO DESIRE, TO CONDUCT A CLEAN, HONEST AND CREDIBLE ELECTION, NOR TO PROSECUTE THOSE WHO HAVE DEBASED THE RULE OF LAW AND THE CONSTITUTIONAL ORDER AND RIPPED OFF THE COFFERS OF THE NATION. 

THE APPARENT GAME PLAN IS STILL TO MANIPULATE THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION THROUGH THE COMMISSION ON ELECTIONS AND ITS VENEZUELAN PARTNER, SMARTMATIC, IN ORDER TO ENSURE THE CONTINUED PLUNDER OF THE ECONOMY,  THE CONTINUED DESTRUCTION OF ALL OUR INSTITUTIONS AND THE CONTINUED EXPLOITATION OF OUR POLITICAL SYSTEM.

 IN OUR EFFORT TO MAKE THE REGIME ACCOUNTABLE TO THE CONSTITUTION AND THE RULE OF LAW, SOME MEMBERS AND FRIENDS OF THE NATIONAL TRANSFORMATION COUNCIL HAVE ASKED THE SUPREME COURT TO DECLARE VOID AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL THE FRAMEWORK AGREEMENT ON THE BANGSAMORO (CAB) AND THE COMPREHENSIVE AGREEMENT ON THE BANGSAMORO (CAB) THROUGH WHICH SOME FALSE FRIENDS OF THE REPUBLIC  IN THE NAME OF A BOGUS PEACE SEEK TO BALKANIZE MINDANAO.

THEY HAVE ALSO ASKED THE HIGH COURT TO STOP THE ILLEGAL AND MASSIVE REALIGNMENT OF PUBLIC FUNDS WHICH WOULD ALLOW SMARTMATIC AND THE COMELEC TO CONTROL WITHOUT ANY ACCOUNTABILITY THE NEXT ELECTIONS. 

TO END THE ADMINISTRATION’S UNILATERAL EXERCISE OF IMPUNITY, THEY FILED TODAY A MANDAMUS SUIT  AGAINST THE PRESIDENT, THE OMBUDSMAN, THE BUDGET SECRETARY, THE JUSTICE SECRETARY, THE SENATE PRESIDENT, THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, THE SENATORS AND CONGRESSMEN, THE HEADS OF VARIOUS AGENCIES, AND ALL THOSE INVOLVED IN THE MISUSE AND ABUSE OF THE P150-BILLION DISBURSEMENT ACCELERATION PROGRAM (DAP), WHICH THE SUPREME COURT HAS DECLARED UNCONSTITUTIONAL.
OUR FAITH IN OUR HIGHEST COURT REMAINS STRONG AND UNIMPEACHABLE, BUT WE FEAR THAT EVEN IF THE COURT SHOULD ACT FAVORABLY UPON ALL OUR PETITIONS, SUCH ACTION MAY NOT BE SUFFICIENT TO END THE EVIL THAT NOW  ENVELOPS THE SYSTEM.  SO WE MUST BE PREPARED TO DO MORE. WE HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT MR. AQUINO HAS LESS THAN ONE YEAR TO STAY IN POWER, AND THAT WE SHOULD BE PATIENT AND WAIT FOR THE NEXT ADMINISTRATION TO TAKE OVER. 

BUT JUST AS IT TOOK JUST ONE TINY MOMENT TO ISSUE THE  ORDER THAT LED TO THE BRIBERY AND TOTAL CORRUPTION OF CONGRESS AND THE REMOVAL OF THE SUPREME COURT CHIEF JUSTICE, AND TO THE MAMASAPANO MASSACRE,  IT WOULD NOT TAKE  MUCH LONGER FOR MR. AQUINO TO COMMIT OUR POORLY EQUIPPED TROOPS INTO AN UNWANTED,  NEEDLESS  AND RUINOUS WAR AT THE WEST PHILIPPINE/SOUTH CHINA SEA, OR TO  COMPLETELY HIJACK THE NEXT ELECTION, IF IN HIS JUDGMENT THAT COULD “SAVE” HIM AND HIS FRIENDS FROM  ANY AND ALL IMAGINED PERIL.


WE PRAY TO THE ALMIGHTY GOD, IN WHOSE HANDS WE PUT THE NATION’S SAFETY AND WELLBEING, THAT NOTHING LIKE THIS WOULD EVER HAPPEN.  BUT GIVEN WHAT WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH THESE LAST FIVE YEARS, WE CANNOT AFFORD  ANY UNDUE  RISKS AT THIS TIME. MR.  AQUINO MUST STEP DOWN. MORE THAN EVER WE NEED A CARETAKER GOVERNMENT, NOW.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Philippine computer experts pose a whole slew of questions for both Comelec and Smartmatic, as well as for PPCRV, about the 2013 elections that remain unanswered or unresolved until now. With 2016 presidential and national-local elections staring us Filipinos in the face, these institutions should answer those questions---NOW.




The issue of the very expensive lease by Comelec from Smartmatic of 93,977 new PCOS machines for the coming 2016 presidential and national/local elections has revived many controversies surrounding transactions between Comelec and Smartmatic in the past two elections, more specifically in the 2013 elections.

A major issue that erupted after the Comelec signed the lease contract for new PCOS machines was, why was the refurbishment of the machines used in the 2013 elections not pushed through, as per an earlier contract between Smartmatic and Comelec, and instead a lease for NEW PCOS MACHINES resorted to, which virtually negated use of the machines purchased by Comelec from Smartmatic with taxpayers' money for P1.8 billion in 2013? Why could Smartmatic complete repairs on the 2010 machines in 2012, with its head, Cesar Flores, boasting that repairs and checking could be done at rate of 3,500 machines in a day, but it couldn't complete repairs for 2016?

A 'workfile server" was inserted by Smartmatic between the PPCRV-operated "Transparency Server" and recipients of data such as the dominant and minority parties, the KBP and Namfrel, that filtered data. Was this authorized by Comelec and PPCRV? Moreover, a ranking Smartmatic technician admitted that files were deleted by that company from the Transparency Server. Was this deletion authorized by Comelec and with the full awareness of PPCRV?

Why is it that a Smartmatic official could delete official files just like that in the 2013 elections? IT experts claim that the obvious security breach there was dangerous to the automated election system. How protected would the 2016 AES be with Smartmatic operating again?

 On the other hand, PPCRV admitted that there was "unintentional double counting" of vote results fed into the servers in 2013. Were these data corrected in full view of all the stakeholders. Who benefitted from the mess?

XXX

These queries---and more queries---have been raised by Filipino computer experts in various forums, but they have been progressively ignored by Comelec and Smartmatic. The contents of this specific file of queries published below have been posed in no uncertain terms by the IT community, specifically issue by issue, to Smartmatic, Comelec and PPCRV---following recent instructions from the chair of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on AES, Sen. Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel III to Philippine Computer Society President Leo Querubin.

In so doing the IT experts are doing a laudable yeoman service to the entire Filipino people---it's patriotism of the highest order.

Read the file below and join in the public clamor for clear, unequivocal answers from the agencies involved in the past election. The bulwark of a democracy is its ability to hold credible elections, but unless these queries are resolved, our democracy is clearly in danger. .



Issue
Question for Smartmatic
Question for COMELEC
Patent Certificate submitted by Smartmatic to justify negotiated contract
How is the patent for appending the PCOS count into the digital ballot image related to the refurbishment of the PCOS?
When Smartmatic submitted the patent for appending the PCOS count into the digital ballot image, how did COMELEC relate this to the refurbishment of the PCOS?
PCOS Refurbishment
In June 25, 2012 article in Rapplerhttp://www.rappler.com/nation/7562-comelec-no-machine-test,-no-payment), Brillantes was quoted as saying “that at a rate of 3,500 machines being repaired and checked in a day, the whole inspection could be over in just 2-3 weeks.”

Flores was also quoted as boasting “that examination of the first batch of machines would be done in a week, given that it takes less than 20 minutes to examine one machine.”

Why could Smartmatic complete the repairs in 2012 but could not complete the repairs in 2015?

Contractual obligation of Smartmatic-TIM Corporation to train IT Department on repair and preventive maintenance.

In the Supreme Court decision in Pabillo vs COMELEC, it revealed that COMELEC admitted that “its ITD personnel are not capable of
performing the required services.”

This is an admission that Smartmatic-TIM Corporation did not fulfill its contractual obligation.

Why did COMELEC not enforce this part of the contract?

Can COMELEC provide a list of contractual obligations of Smartmatic-TIM Corporation and identify those that have been fulfilled?

What are the plans of COMELEC to collect liquidated damages for unfulfilled contractual obligations of Smartmatic-TIM Corporation?
COMELEC inaction on Smartmatic-TIM Corporation proposal for Extended Warranty

Smartmatic-TIM Corporation submitted a proposal for Extended Warranty on November 8, 2013.

Commissioner  Christian Lim submitted on October 30, 2014 to the Law Department the Final
Extended Warranty Proposal48 of Smartmatic-TIM for review.

Why did Comm Lim waste 356 days before taking any action on the proposal?
Rejection by Law Department of the Extended Warranty Proposal

What was the justification of COMELEC in ignoring the recommendation of its Law Department to reject the Extended Warranty Proposal of Smartmatic-TIM Corporation?.
Foreign ownership of Smartmatic-TIM Corporation
Please explain why the Smartmatic Limited Annual Report and Consolidated Financial Statements submitted to the UK House of Companies in 31 December 2013 listed Smartmatic-TIM Corporation as a 100% owned company, contrary to the Articles of Incorporation?
Did COMELEC evaluate the Smartmatic Limited Annual Report and Consolidated Financial Statements and compare it with the submitted Articles of Incorporation during the post qualification evaluation for the lease of the 23K and the 70,977 PCOS?
Demo of PCOS machine during the bid for the 23K PCOS
When the Smartmatic PCOS was first demoed on May 5, 2015, the Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) failed the Smartmatic PCOS for not meeting the technical requirement and for infirm Articles of Incorporation.

The second demo was conducted 49 days after.

Were there any fixes performed on the PCOS unit for demo during the 49 days?
Can COMELEC cite any instance in any government bidding that a special privilege was extended to a failed bidder to conduct a second demo?

Why wait 49 days before the second demo was conducted?

Where was the demo unit during the 49 days?
Findings of the Co-melec Advisory Council (CAC)
The CAC Post-Election Report on the Use of the AES in the 2013 NLE stated:

“xxx it was further found the day after Election Day that a laptop was installed as an intermediary ‘workfile server’ between the Transparency Server and the workstations of the authorized four recipients and the Rappler Server.”

What was the purpose of the workfile server?


Where was the workfile server located?

Who authorized the installation of the workfile server?

Did PPCR, which operated the Transparency Server, know about this workfile server?

The report also stated that Smartmatic-TIM Corporation deleted files in the Transparency Server.

What files were deleted?

Why were these files deleted?

Who authorized these deletions?










Did COMELEC allow the installation of this workfile server?












Did COMELEC allow the deletion of these files?
Press statement of PPCRV in 2013

“This resulted to the unintentional double counting of votes coming in to the respective servers. All the subscribers to the data from the transparency server, namely Smartmatic, PPCRV, UNA, Liberal Party, and the KBP (Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas); as well as media outfits, namely ABS-CBN 2, TV 5, GMA 7, Solar News, and Rappler, unanimously agreed to a double consistency check prior to broadcasting after the script file has been corrected by Smartmatic's Marlon Garcia.“

Did Smartmatic test the files before it went into production?

What corrections were performed on the script file?
Did COMELEC authorize these corrections?


Why did a foreigner have access to the Transparency Server?



















Were the source codes of these files in the Transparency Server reviewed?



Did COMELEC authorize these corrections?

Who were the authorized personnel who had access to the Transparecny Server?







Sunday, August 16, 2015

Comelec’s justification for Smartmatic lease contract for 93,977 PCOS, costing P9.6 billion, is it’s “running out of time” for 2016. But IT experts assert that Comelec sat on preparations for 443 days? A clearer diagram on flow of 2013 elections data, as filtered by “Workfile Server” set up by Smartmatic between PPCRV's “Transparency Server” and dominant/minority parties and citizens’ groups. But this “filter” also fed Comelec website, thus putting into serious question results of 2013 elections. Despite numerous offenses Smartmatic bags 2016 PCOS contract.


Defying public opinion and all sense and better judgment, Comelec under new Chair Andres Bautista awarded last Friday Smartmatic-TIM a contract to lease, with option to purchase (OTP), of 93,977 PCOS machines at a total cost of P9.6 billion. In so doing,Comelec consigned to the ignominious dustbin some 82,000 PCOS machines first leased and used in the 2010 elections and subsequently purchased as second-hand units for P1.8 billion in 2013.

When those leased PCOS machines were eventually purchased by Comelec in 2013, contract stipulation was that these would be “refurbished” for use again in 2016. Moreover, in the interim, Smartmatic would train Comelec’s IT people to maintain these machines that have been warehoused in Cabuyao, Laguna, since 2010 at a monthly cost to taxpayers of P800,000.

XXX

Sadly, training was never demanded by Comelec and neither was it offered by Smartmatic---so that with 2016 elections coming up, the poll body felt the need to enter into a negotiated contract with Smartmatic for refurbishment of these machines. Predictably the Supreme Court threw out this negotiated contracted as unconstitutional and demanded open bidding for refurbishment.

But predictably too, Smartmatic chose at the last minute not to get into refurbishment, doubtless because it fears that those PCOS units bought with taxpayers’ money in 2013 may not be fixed up anymore. Instead, it offered Comelec the lease of 93,977 new PCOS units in two separate contracts with OTP.

Predictably again, despite the collective dread of our IT folks and opposition from various quarters, Comelec last Friday seized Smartmatic's lease offer for those 93,977 PCOS machines at a whopping cost of P9.6 billion. IT experts charge as added woe that this lease deal cost taxpayers P3 BILLION MORE THAN REFURBISHMENT. 

XXX

So it seems like goodbye to the old machines taxpayers paid P1.8 billion for in 2013.  Chair Bautista, however, asserts that while those warehoused PCOS machines won’t be used for 2016, they can be refurbished for the 2019 elections. But we all know, as IT Prof. Edmundo Casino of Asia-Pacific College stressed at the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee (JCOC) last week, the PCOS machines---like all machines---are subject to obsolescence. 

If Smartmatic refuses to refurbish these machines now, would it do so in 2019, when these would sink into worse obsolescence?    

XXX

What rankles with IT folks as well as ordinary citizens is that the poll body didn’t even have the decency to wait for resolution of three petitions filed against this foreign-owned machine provider and Comelec before the Supreme Court---all calling for preliminary injunction or TRO of the PCOS deal, owing to serious legal questions it raises. The first case was filed by eight ranking Catholic prelates led by Nueva Caceres Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona and other citizens, the second by the IT umbrella group Automated Election System (AES) Watch, and the third by former Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman, Leo Querubin, president of the Philippine Computer Society and IT professor Maria Corazon M. Akol.

As AES Watch spokesperson Dr. Nelson Celis, Ph.D. put it, “Without waiting for the SC action on the legal questions raised against the Comelec and Smartmatic, the poll body proceeded to award the lease of nearly 94,000 expensive new PCOS units to a sham joint venture, in violation of the Constitution and laws as well as COA regulations. Such impunity, lies and blatant treachery to voters, taxpayers and the Filipino people.”  Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo concurred with Celis that Comelec should have waited for the SC decision.

Moreover, the JCOC on AES, chaired by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, was still scheduled to hold another session at the Senate, where Filipino technology featuring a far simpler, cheaper, more transparent and efficient voting machine (acronym TAPAT) and a corresponding tallying system (PATAS)---projects under the auspices of the Filipino IT for Elections (FIT4E)--- was  to be demonstrated sometime this week.

The Comelec commissioners are obviously afraid of our homegrown voting machines---never mind if these are more “Tapat.”  

XXX

Comelec Chair Bautista, whose appointment still awaits confirmation by the Commission on Appointments, justified this lightning contract to lease new PCOS units from Smartmatic by arguing that the poll body is ALREADY RUNNING OUT OF TIME to prepare for the 2016 elections---hence, their option to just lease new units instead of refurbishing old ones.

This is the same line Bautista used when the TAPAT voting machine---using the popular tablet and offering voter verification which PCOS seeks to hide---was demonstrated last month at the Pamantasan ng Lungson ng Maynila. Perhaps for next elections TAPAT would be viable, BUT NOT NOW, NO MORE TIME, said Bautista.  Various commentators are alleging into this new deal between Smartmatic and Comelec all kinds of motives---from the money angle to manipulating elections for a particular political group.  

Plainly viewed, as election lawyer Romulo Macalintal pointed out, Smartmatic hostaged Comelec by refusing to refurbish the 2013 PCOS machines and the poll body was only too willing to be hostaged. Sad to say, however, these Comelec actuations are further hurting the credibility of the 2016 elections.

XXX


IT experts counter that Comelec actually wasted 443 days (one year, two months and eighteen days) before getting its act together on the 2016 elections. To make it clearer for us citizens, PCS president Leo Querubin drew up the diagrams below with his commentary, indicating the flow chart of action---or rather inaction---on the issue of election preparations for 2016.   

Said Querubin: 

"As you can see, former Chairman Brillantes/Comm CR Lim wasted 443 days from the time the foreign-owned Smartmatic-TIM Corporation submitted its proposal for an extended warranty until the time former Chair Brillantes/Comm CR Lim signed the negotiated refurbishment contract.





If Chair Brillantes/Comm CR Lim did not commit grave abuse of discretion (as concluded by all the 15 members of Supreme Court en banc in Pabillo vs COMELEC), then COMELEC would have instead a buffer of 480 days to properly prepare for the May 9, 2016 (National and Local Elections).





By using lack of time as an excuse for junking the 80K+ PCOS machines used for 2013 to justify awarding Smartmatic-TIM Corporation the contract to lease 93,977 PCOS , you (new Comelec Chair Bautista), in your watch as the Chair of the COMELEC, have rewarded incompetence, at best or immoral machinations at worst."

XXX

Some readers complained that the diagrams presented in this space last Monday, August 10, about the sudden appearance and true role of the “Workfile Server” in the immediate aftermath of the 2013 elections, seem very complicated to understand. I therefore present below PCS prexy Leo Querubin’s simpler diagrams on the critical role played by this mysterious “Workfile Server.” This server was installed by Smartmatic at the height of the 2013 election transmissions but its existence was unknown, it seems, even to Comelec, until a high-ranking Smartmatic official inadvertently revealed it AFTER the elections, in connection with another issue---the deletion of files in the Transparency Server in the PPCRV premises.   

What raised the IT experts' eyebrows later was the discovery that  this "Workfile Server" served as a "filtering mechanism" for election data on 2013 national and local elections, and was feeding them DIRECTLY TO THE COMELEC WEBSITE. Equally interesting was that  this "Workfile Server" was connected only remotely to the Transparency Server at the Pope Pius XII Center in Manila---suspected to be in Makati and connected to the Transparency Server via a PRIVATE NETWORK. 

Intriguing questions for IT folks: Why this private network and whose was it? Did the Workfile Server decide who was to win and who to lose in the 2013 senatorial race? There were indeed some very curious movements then.  

Judge for yourself, folks, whether we had honest elections in 2013, and whether we'll have them in 2016.


            How the set-up should have been in 2013 elections           




How it actually was in 2013








Monday, August 10, 2015

Computer expert denounces to JCOC on AES chair Koko Pimentel tampering of election returns in 2013 elections, executed through “Workfile server” inserted by Smartmatic between the ‘Transparency Server’ operated by PPCRV and four authorized election data recipients of election returns. With Smartmatic’s shady record, citizens have every reason to dread tampered results in 2016 elections.




Last March 22, 2015, Leo Querubin, President of the Philippine Computer Society, wrote Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, chair of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee (JCOC) on the Automated Election System, a letter pertaining to Smartmatic-TIM. A copy of Querubin’s letter was furnished me by the computer professionals at last week’s hearing of the JCOC at the Senate, where some of them aired the people’s grievances against Smartmatic.

Nothing I heard there, however, equals the import of Querubin’s letter, for it shows in black and white, and later in diagrams I’m reproducing here, how our elections  have been tampered with in 2013 and perhaps even in 2010. If we do not do anything about Comelec’s recent award to Smartmatic to lease some 93,977 new units of the Optical Mark Reader (OMR) machines at a whopping P12.6 billion, with offer to purchase (OTP), we may see a repeat of this terrible development---a crying shame for a democracy.

XXX

Querubin’s  startling letter quoted the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC)’s “Post-Election Report on the Use of the Automated Election System in the 2013 National and Local Elections, submitted to the JCOC AES last January 2014. On Page 18,  the CAC report said that contrary to official thinking “it was further found the day after Election Day that a laptop was installed as an intermediary “workfile server” between the Transparency Server and the workstations of four authorized recipients and the Rappler Server.” The report said this was disclosed by Smartmatic-TIM when it met with KBP, PPCRV and Namfrel “to explain the deletion of files” that Smartmatic made at the Transparency Server on the early morning after Election Day.

The report asserted that “This modification may have made the system vulnerable, resulting in security breach, open to online interference or manipulation. (emphasis BOC's)”

XXX

Let’s process that paragraph a bit. Day after the 2013 elections a laptop was installed by Smartmatic as a “workfile server,” AN INTERMEDIARY between the Transparency Server operated by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV)  and four authorized “workstations,” including citizens’ arm groups, to which PPCRV serves election data on who was winning and who was being left behind. What was stunning are two facts: l). the installation by Smartmatic of this intermediary which was not supposed to be there, and 2). the admission by Smartmatic’s Technology Manager, Marlon Garcia, that some files it made at the PPCRV-operated Transparency Server in the early morning after Election Day had been deleted from this server. 

As Querubin put it, “In any IT system implementation, no one can delete files unless fully authorized by Management.” He then asserts that “it would be wise to ask Smartmatic and Comelec to show the document (it must have been an en banc resolution) that authorized Smartmatic-TIM to delete such files." In addition, Querubin asserts that Smartmatic should also be asked where the archived files (i.e., deleted files but saved as archived, to be used for audit purposes later) are stored. 

I would include summoning PPCRV on how this happened at the Transparency Server it was operating at that time.

XXX

But there is still the worst about that episode involving the “Workfile server”, which, as Querubin put it, was “the most worrying statement” in the CAC report. This is that “The Comelec website in the 2013 National and Local Elections derived its data from the ‘Workfile server’ that intermediated the Transparency Server and the four recipients.”

The four recipients were the Majority Party workstation, the Dominant Minority Party workstation, the Accredited Citizens’ Arm (Namfrel) workstation, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodcasters ng Pilipinas (KBP) workstation. These outfits were all receiving their data from the Workfile server and in turn were dishing these out to the entire nation hanging on tenterhooks by then!

XXX

But this is not all: this Workfile server also served as the source of data served to the entire nation by the Comelec Website. If this Workfile server was inserted as “filter” by Smartmatic to the Transparency Server of the PPCRV, were these data then corrupted or untrue, or being manipulated to serve the interest of some candidates against those of others?

Querubin of the Computer Society asserts rightly that “The workfile server taints the results of the process. It disrupts the chain of custody of election returns. Hence, it boggles the mind why Comelec would use a tainted source for its Comelec website, knowing full well that the Comelec website is the public facing source of election results.” Querubin says “It will be wise to ask Smartmatic-TIM and Comelec what was the purpose of the Workfile server and who was manning it." 

Definitely,  PPCRV should also face the inquisition board.

If this happened in 2013, with Smartmatic being involved again by Comelec for the 2016 elections, what would happen then? Something really is rotten and it’s not in Denmark. If this happened in the US, it's easy to imagine how the US Congress would demand no less than a congressional investigation. Let's pray that Koko Pimentel's JCOC on the AES would be equal to the challenge from the IT people---for the sake of the nation.


                   (Charts supplied by the Philippine Computer Society)