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.

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?


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. .

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?

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