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Talking from experience EDITORIAL 05/22/2010

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Talking from experience

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The Palace has raised the possibility of a political firestorm similar to the one that formed in the aftermath of the “Hello Garci” scandal as allegations of cheating in the country’s first automated polls continue to build up.

In the 2005 controversy, the allegations of fraud became too evident that Gloria appeared on nationwide television to say her infamous “I am sorry” and the protests that accompanied it resulted in calls for her to step down and triggered a coup in 2006 that was averted only after Gloria allegedly bought off the allegiance of military brass.

Despite fending off an ouster, Gloria plodded through the six years of her extended presidency by keeping herself on the saddle.

Noynoy Aquino, if he is proclaimed president-elect by Congress as a National Canvass Board, may face the same curse of public distrust if he assumes the presidency and consigns the fraud allegations as part of gripes among the losers in the just concluded elections.

The outrage shown by Makati Rep. Teddy Boy Locsin on automated poll supplier Smartmatic’s nonchalant admission of errors in the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines as readouts, passed off as “unforeseen” would likely be a precursor to a similar level of public outrage as more defects, intentional or not, of the expensive poll system come out in the open.... MORE  

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100522com1.html

Still evasive FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 05/22/2010

Still evasive

Ninez Cacho-Olivares

It seems pretty clear that the electronic fraud was probably massive, given the evidence being presented in the congressional hearing and the evident evasive and unsatisfactory answers given by Smartmatic tend to show that the poll officials as well as its partner in automation knew just how massive this fraud is.

But even as clearly the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines failed in ensuring fraud-free polls, there went the Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioners, still claiming that the fraud couldn’t have been massive, and even as the evidence was being presented before the body, and saying that such would not alter the results of the polls.

In other words, Comelec officials were there, still defending the failed automated polls and naturally, their partner, Smartmatic, even taking the same line of the partner that the time logs in the transmission of the election returns are of no importance.

There was absolutely no anti-fraud security system in this first ever automated election which is now being discovered to be a big flop, as well as perhaps being the dirtiest automated polls ever.

So who should be held responsible and accountable? Smartmatic, for certain. But the Comelec officials, they too, very definitely should be held accountable, as it was they who had approved the removal of all the security features, giving the Comelec cheating syndicate, led by the Big Four, all the opportunity to manipulate the results of the polls.
While it was fairly clear, from the start, that these Comelec commissioners were pretty clueless, or at least playing cluelessness, about automation and relied heavily on whatever Smartmatic did, as did the PPCRV, that always looked the other way, the fact is that it is just common sense for a poll body, given its history of having been marked with fraudulent practices, to ensure that all the security features were retained.... MORE  

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100522com2.html

Thai government must engage Thaksin to heal divides ANALYSIS 05/22/2010

Thai government must engage Thaksin to heal divides


BANGKOK — Thailand’s government must engage former Premier Thaksin Shinawatra in reconciliation efforts after a bloody crackdown on his “Red Shirts” supporters, or risk inflaming the nation’s crisis, analysts said.

The government has accused Thaksin, a billionaire tycoon ousted in a 2006 coup, of bankrolling and masterminding Thailand’s worst political violence in decades which has left 83 dead since Reds rallies erupted in March.

Thaksin lives in exile to avoid a jail sentence for corruption, but the government has exerted pressure on countries he has visited, moved to freeze his finances and sought a warrant for his arrest on terrorism charges.

But political observers said the government of Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, appointed with the army’s backing after Thaksin’s allies were ejected by a 2008 court ruling, must now change tack.

“This government keeps making wrong decisions, including the crackdown. Squeezing Thaksin is another wrong decision,” said Pavin Chachavalpongpun, from the Institute for Southeast Asian Studies, in Singapore.

“Thaksin is not the only problem here. For the government to squeeze him, to punish him, it won’t solve the current crisis.”... MORE  

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100522com3.html

Temperature Range: vs Comelec, Smartmatic By Gerry Baldo 05/22/2010


Temperature Range: vs Comelec, Smartmatic

By Gerry Baldo

Legislators zeroed in on more anomalies in the recent automated polls ranging from empty “back up memory cards,” election returns found in junk yard to questionable technology subcontractors at the resumption yesterday of the hearing conducted by the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms on allegations of massive electronic poll fraud.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) and automated poll supplier Smartmatic Corp. continued to get the blame for the flawed automated elections even as lawmakers raised more questions about alleged anomalies in the conduct of the recent polls.

Abakada Guro Rep. Jonathan de la Cruz said the Comelec and Smartmatic should come out with a list of all its subcontractors for information technology because some of them could be questionable.

He added he received information that one of those who subcontracted the IT system was a company owned by Atong Ang and this was deployed in Rizal province and Region IV.

“Is it true that Atong Ang was among the subcontractors in Rizal and in Region IV?” De la Cruz asked Comelec officials.

He said that Ang’s involvement in the elections could have resulted in former President Estrada’s loss in Laguna, Rizal and Region IV.

“Who is Atong Ang? Is he now involved in information technology? Who were his technicians in Rizal and Region 4?” De La Cruz asked.... MORE  

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100522hed1.html

Locsin says koala Locsin says koala By Marie Surbano and Aytch S. de la Cruz 05/22/2010

Locsin says koala Locsin says koala

By Marie Surbano and Aytch S. de la Cruz

The hunt for the identity of the koala, or the poll fraud whistleblower sporting a mask similar to the Australian marsupial, is on with the Commission on Elections (Comelec), saying yesterday it already had clues on who unleashed him while Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr. claimed at a House hearing yesterday that the supposed witness is a creature of the Palace. 

“I know who you are. Do not provoke me to name you,” Locsin said, referring to personalities in Malacañang. The Palace quickly denied Locsin’s allegations.

The whistleblower who hid behind the name Robin recounted a supposed elaborate and systematic operations of electronic vote shaving in the May 10 elections which Liberal Party (LP) standard bearer Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino leads in the Comelec tally.

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the person behind the whistleblower is “a losing candidate” without specifically identifying anybody.

Jimenez refused to divulge details on its supposed findings saying initial reports that they received from several government agencies point to a “losing presidential candidate” as the mastermind behind the masked man nicknamed by Congressman Teddy Boy Locsin as a koala bear. 

“The information is still very very difficult to substantiate but we trust our sources,” said Jimenez. The Comelec, according to Jimenez, is still verifying the identity of the whistleblower.

Asked what they will do if they find out who engineered the masked man’s revelation, Jimenez said, the mastermind face sanctions for undermining the credibility of the elections.... MORE  

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100522hed2.html

House forms panel to canvass votes 05/22/2010

House forms panel to canvass votes

The House of Representatives has formed a nine-member group that would work hand-in-hand with the Senate in canvassing the votes for president and vice president beginning Tuesday.

Speaker Prospero Nograles, in a text message, yesterday said the group will be composed of himself as chairman, Majority Leader Arthur Defensor, Minority Leader Ronaldo Zamora, Senior Deputy Majority Leader Neptali Gonzales II, Senior Deputy Minority Leader Roilo Golez, Representatives Crispin Remulla( Cavite), Didagen Dilangalen (Shariff Kabunsuan with Cotabato City), Matias Defensor (Quezon City) and Michael John Duavit (Rizal).

In case of absences, alternate members include Representatives Teodoro Locsin Jr. (Makati), Rufus Rodriguez (Cagayan de Oro), Lorenzo Tañada III (Quezon), Liwayway Vinzons-Chato (Camarines Norte), Simeon Datumanong (Maguindanao), Giorgidi Aggabao (Isabela), Pedro Romualdo (Camiguin), Joseph Emilio Abaya (Cavite) and Eduardo Zialcita (Parañaque).

Nograles said both the House and the Senate, convening separately, are set to approve the draft rules of canvassing on Monday, hence, he expects the National Board of Canvassers to start official canvassing the day after or on Tuesday.

Nograles and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile will serve as co-chairman of the special canvassing committee.
Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, meanwhile, is seeking to inhibit herself from the Senate panel of the joint congressional committee to canvass the votes cast for presidential and vice presidential candidates in the 10 May 2010 elections.

The reelected senator sent a letter on Friday to Enrile requesting for her exclusion from the Senate contingent, citing her being a guest candidate of four political parties.... MORE  

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100522hed5.html

DPWH urged to build wrecked Cainta ripraps 05/22/2010

DPWH urged to build wrecked Cainta ripraps


Cainta homeowners are calling on the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in this province to act swiftly to construct the ripraps of their village which were washed out by typhoon “Ondoy” last year.

Daniel Rafael Prats, president of the Village East Homeowners Association Inc. (Vehai), said the DPWH could have done the construction of the ripraps immediately after its destruction to prevent a repeat of the nightmarish flooding that happened last year.

“More than 2,000 homeowners of the village conveyed their apprehension to DPWH and even to Rizal leaders and officials that if possible they should build the destroyed ripraps during summer or before rainy season comes but they did nothing about it,” Prats said.

He cited the construction of the ripraps at the adjacent village by the DPWH though the site was an open corn field and far away from the residents.

“If the DPWH did the construction why not in our village when its destroyed ripraps are within the perimeter where the houses of the homeowners are located?” he said.

The village homeowners are now in great fear as the rainy season is coming and the destroyed ripraps still lay in waste and any time the village will be flooded by a heavy down pour.... MORE

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20100522nat4.html

Congress poll fraud probe won’t affect transition of gov’t 05/22/2010

Congress poll fraud probe won’t affect transition of gov’t

Preparations for the smooth transition of power to the next administration will not be affected by reported moves in Congress to reschedule the proclamation of the next President and Vice President in deference to the committee investigation into reports of alleged electronic fraud in the May 10 polls.

Deputy presidential spokesman Charito Planas said Malacañang is “ready and just waiting” for the next administration even as it recognizes the fact that only Congress has the power to proclaim the incoming President and Vice President. 

“The Arroyo administration is ready and prepared to receive, and so it is up to the incoming President and Vice President to name their counterparts who will sit down with us for the transition,” Planas said. 

The Senate and the House of Representatives have reportedly agreed to move the proclamation of winning candidates for President and Vice President from the earlier reported date of June 4, possibly to June 30, in deference to the ongoing committee inquiry into allegations of electronic fraud. 

Under the Constitution, President Arroyo’s successor has to take the oath of office at noon of June 30. 

Planas said the Palace respects the decision of Congress, being an independent and co-equal power of the Executive branch of the government.... MORE  

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20100522nat1.html

Binay’s camp chides Roxas for ‘copycat ad’ 05/22/2010

Binay’s camp chides Roxas for ‘copycat ad’

The camp of leading Vice Presidential candidate Jejomar Binay has described the “copycat” print advertisement of Sen. Manuel Roxas as “less than truthful” since it failed to say that Binay won in 66 of the country’s 81 provinces during the May 10 elections.

“We don’t really mind if they copied the ad, but they should have been more truthful in presenting the provincial results,” Binay’s spokesman Lito Anzures said.

The ad, which appeared in several newspapers Friday, copied the format of the Binay ad, which showed the United Opposition bet winning in 14 out of 17 regions.

He also noted that the ad included Roxas votes from cities, thus “bloating” the figures.

“I though the Roxas camp had said we should all wait for the results of the canvass. But here they are again, misleading the public,” he said.

Anzures said the Roxas camp has earlier failed to say that the votes from their bailiwick, which they claim would swing the tide in their favor, account for only less than 20 per cent of the total number of votes cast.... MORE  

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20100522nat7.html

Army to make changes in training after cadet dies of heat stroke 05/22/2010

Army to make changes in training after cadet dies of heat stroke

The Army leadership will be making adjustments in training activities for soldier-applicants following the death by heat stroke of one trainee in Isabela province on Wednesday, a military spokesman said yesterday.

“We have to study (what changes should we make in the training procedures) because of climate change and intense temperature nowadays. We have to make adjustments in schedule of training if trainees are undergoing strenuous activities,” Armed Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Arnulfo Marcelo Burgos Jr. said. 

On Wednesday, prospective Army recruit Ericson Pascua, of Cordon town, Isabela, died of heat stroke after almost completing initial exercises during reception day training at the Army’s 5th Infantry Division (ID) headquarters in Camp Melchor dela Cruz in Gamu town, Isabela.

Pascua passed out in the last stages of the reception exercises while 16 other fellow trainees of his suffered heat exhaustion and dehydration. He later on died despite hours of attempts to revive him in a private hospital in Isabela.
The 16 other trainees were declared out of danger and were back training. 

A total of 350 prospective recruits are undergoing training under the 5th ID.

On Wednesday morning, the temperature in Tuguegarao City, which was 100 kilometers away from the training facility, was registered at 39.7 degree Celsius.

Burgos said Army chief Lt. Gen. Reynaldo Mapagu has already issued a guidance not to conduct strenuous activities during the intense heat.... MORE  

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20100522nat8.html

Transmission error causes proclamation of wrong winner 05/22/2010

Transmission error causes proclamation of wrong winner


An administration mayoralty aspirant in Maasim town in Sarangani province has asked the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to immediately nullify the earlier proclamation of the town’s winning mayor due to noted discrepancies in the town’s total vote count that were supposedly caused by the erroneous transmission of election returns from one of the polling precincts in the area.

Maasim mayoralty candidate Arturo Lawa yesterday said he filed a petition before the Comelec en banc in Manila for the rectification of alleged errors in the town’s voting results after the Municipal Board of Canvassers (MBoC) supposedly failed to properly count the votes cast from clustered precinct number 21 of Barangay Kablakan in Maasim. 

He claimed the MBoC erroneously counted the votes cast during the mock elections or the testing and sealing of the deployed precinct count optical scan or PCOS machine in the polling precinct and not the actual votes cast during the May 10 automated elections. 

Based on the MBoC’s official count, Lawa, who ran under administration coalition Sarangani Reconciliation and Reformation Organization-Lakas-Kampi-CMD (Sarro-Lakas), trailed the proclaimed winning mayor Jose Zamorro by only 15 votes. 

Zamorro, who ran as an independent, received 5,321 votes while Lawa only got 5,306 votes. 

But Lawa, who is an outgoing provincial board member, said it turned out that the MBOC only counted the nine votes cast during the mock polls at precinct number 21 as shown in the statement of votes that it earlier released.
He said the questioned clustered precinct, which covered four established precincts in Barangay Kablakan, had 800 registered voters, wherein 616 of them actually voted in the May 10 elections based on the copies of election returns printed from the PCOS machine.... MORE  

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20100522nat9.html

‘Clearing, of landmines in Mindanao a herculean job’ 05/22/2010

‘Clearing, of landmines in Mindanao a herculean job’

The head of the government Ad Hoc Joint Action Group (AHJAG) yesterday described as a “herculean job” its and the Moro Islamic Liberation’s (MILF) task of locating and ensuring the safe disposal of landmines and unexploded ordnance scattered in various areas in Central Mindanao at the height of the fighting in the region.

Brig. Gen. Jose Vizcarra, AHJAG chairman representing the Philippine government and concurrent deputy commander of the peace process of the Western Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces, said many of these deadly devices could be found in the vast Linguasan marshland and jungles in the region. 

Vizcarra welcomed the move to ban the use and the clearing of landmines and unexploded ordnance in conflict-affected areas in Mindanao, which, he said, will strengthen the peace process between the government and the MILF. 

A group called Philippine Campaign to Ban Landmines (PCBL) and the Foundation Suisse de Deminage (FSD), or the Swiss Foundation for Mine Action, are supporting this noble project. 

The implementing guidelines for the PCBL-FSD project, signed last May 5 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was pursuant to the joint statement of both panels in November 2007 relative to the clearing of landmines and unexploded ordnance (unexploded ordnance). 

Vizcarra said the government and MILF teams will jointly conduct tracking and defusing of landmines and unexploded devices to ensure that people in Central Mindanao and other areas will not be hurt by them. 

He said many live mortar and cannon shells were dropped in the Linguasan marshland during the fighting but did not explode and they will try to recover and defuse them. 

Vizcarra also appealed to the MILF to report to the AHJAG any landmine and unexploded ordnance they find in their areas so that these explosives can be defused properly. 

Another task the AHJAG will have to contend with is to find unexploded bombs dropped in Mindanao during World War II. 

“These explosives must be located and defused,” Vizcarra said.... MORE  

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20100522nat10.html

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