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No choice but for manual count EDITORIAL 05/28/2010

Friday, May 28, 2010

No choice but for manual count

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If Smartmatic’s counting machines can botch something like the total figure of the country’s electorate, a given, how much more can it be relied upon to provide an accurate count of the past elections?

The National Board of Canvassers (NBoC) should treat the P7 billion that was spent for the automated polls contract and all the additional trouble that went with it as a loss charged to experience but which needs to be recovered, however, since the leadership of the country was at stake here.

And salvaging the country’s future from that disastrous adventure can be done only by going into the count manually, no matter how long it takes.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec) which seems bent on covering up any Smartmatic foul-up should be forced to come clean on the state of the machines’ dysfunction but which the supplier still insists to be fool-proof.
It was already established in an earlier House of Representatives inquiry that the transmission of data was not as iron clad as what Smartmatic had tried to present its system due to time stamp errors, which, based on several testimonies, including that of koala boy, were exploited to switch transmitted election results.

In so many past elections, Congress acting as a canvassing body, resisted demands for the opening of poll documents other than the Certificates of Canvass (CoCs) stating that the process would open the floodgates for similar pleas that would result in the opening of all documents down to the precinct level, thus potentially delaying the proclamation of the new president and vice president.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100528com1.html

Deliberate fraud? FRONTLINE Ninez Cacho-Olivares 05/28/2010

Deliberate fraud?

Ninez Cacho-Olivares
From all indications, and from the way the warts of the automated election system have been showing up in the National Board of Canvassers (NBoC), and with public suspicion of massive automated election fraud rising, the system fell wide open to the cheating syndicate that can still be found in the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Chances are high that Smartmatic and the high ranking Comelec officials know, from the start, that the system would fail, given the fact that there certainly was full agreement on the part of Smartmatic, Comelec and even its poll watchdog, the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, to do away with virtually all the safety features which could have helped in eliminating, if not minimizing the fraud.

From the start, there was reluctance on the part of these three bodies to have anybody check on the source code. When they claimed they were ready to open up, it was already much too late.

Then too, there was that last minute reconfiguration of the flash cards which was done again in virtual secrecy, since party representatives were not even alerted and asked to watch the process.

In fact, there was no machine testing at all after that reconfiguration.

That appears pretty suspicious. Even the PPCRV’s Random Manual Count was done in virtual secrecy..... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100528com2.html

At home or work, Thais split over Red Shirt protests FEATURE 05/28/2010

At home or work, Thais split over Red Shirt protests


BANGKOK — A week after an explosion of violence that shocked the nation, Thais are divided at home, work or among friends between sympathizers of the “Red Shirt” movement and supporters of the government.

Between paperwork and answering the phone, employees at a Bangkok beauty salon speak emotionally of recent events — the two months of protests, the army crackdown and the subsequent looting and arson, which in all left 88 dead.

“Thai people are divided into two groups: for the Reds or for the government. Same here and in every family. So we talk. We need to be careful because if we continue we become aggressive and there can be a fight,” said Suda, 45, who, like others, preferred not to give her full name.

At the height of tensions between the protesters and the government led by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, Suda and her colleagues were forced to evacuate their business near the “red zone” rally site.

Now Bangkok’s commercial hub is back to business, the beauty salon’s boss is well-aware of the political disagreements simmering among his employees.

“I can hear them argue. Fortunately they don’t fight, they make a kind of joke,” he said.

The political crisis in the kingdom has deepened divisions in society. The red-clad movement, largely made up of urban and rural poor, pit themselves against the Thai elites, whom they say do not share fruits of economic growth.
Opinions are often nuanced and the subject is sensitive.

“At work most people agree with the government. I don’t support the Red Shirts but I cannot bear the government shooting at the people,” said Apiradee, 31, a publicity company employee.

“At work I avoid saying that, because it would be hard to stay polite,” he added.
Beside him, his colleague grits his teeth.... MORE  

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100528com3.html

Never-ending story NO HOLDS BARRED Armida Siguion-Reyna 05/28/2010

Never-ending story

Armida Siguion-Reyna
A senator says the cheating in this year’s election isn’t as bad as it was in 2004, so it will be easier to move on. I beg to disagree. A congressman says this time there is proof of the cheating, whereas in 2004 there was none. I all the more disagree.

To begin with, cheating is cheating. There’s no difference between 20,000 votes and 500 votes, although of course if you’re the candidate you’d outright say that there in those figures lie the clear difference between winning and losing. This isn’t so for God; you face Him on Judgment Day and He won’t accept “Konti lang po ang dinaya ko,” as an excuse. Likewise for the voter; ninakawan mo siya ng boto, ninakawan mo na rin siya ng pag-asa.

For those involved in the Fernando Poe Jr. campaign the heartache was not in his losing, for he did not lose. He was cheated, as we all know, so if anyone truly lost there, it was the country. The pain was in seeing otherwise honest men not really giving a damn for one whom they looked down on as a mere actor and therefore not well-equipped as “the economist.” Among these honest men were a future president and one who didn’t quite make it to the second highest office of the land, and the survey-makers, the “trending” geniuses.

The senator who kept on going “Noted,” “Noted,” “Noted,” to this day can’t understand why his utterance of such is still taken against him, claiming he was at that time working in accordance with the Constitution. The “Garci tapes” hadn’t yet surfaced, so he “noted” continuously, as if “noting” was all that he could do.

The truth is, the word meant more. As verb it is noticing or paying particular attention to something. A note is a written record, an annotation, a reference to something one goes back to, as in “I take note, babalikan ko iyan.” Except no such balikan ever took place; it was as if no attention had ever been called to dubious election returns (ERs) and CoCs in that National Board of Canvassers.

The ballots that awaited investigation were never given a second glance; shortly after it was rumored that these had been replaced by bogus votes para nga naman sakaling magkasilipan, wala nang masisilip. Here in da Pilipins, where there’s smoke, there’s fire.... MORE  

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100528com4.html

Lessons 2010 DIE HARD III Herman Tiu Laurel 05/28/2010

Lessons 2010

Herman Tiu Laurel

A whole book can be written about lessons learned for our nation in this final year of the first decade of the 21st Century. Focusing on the burning issues of the day, the Hocus-PCOS that was premised on the panacea of technology solving the root problems of the country’s electoral politics has taught us probably the most important lesson: Technology does not solve our most basic social and political ills.

Watching the current Hocus-PCOS imbroglio, it is clear that it will take wise human intervention to solve the mess that technology has brought upon us. It’s a lesson the German Supreme Court incorporated into its jurisprudence when it banned automation after 10 of years of experimenting with it.

A second lesson that can be gleaned when we witness politicians such as Teddy “Boy” Locsin go about their official duties is that a Harvard diploma and a crisp, wry witty English do not guarantee wisdom. Getting the country to rush headlong to use a system that even the US has experienced to be easily “hack-able” (search Hack Diebold on YouTube) is going to be the most memorable, if not dubious, achievement of this scion of a liberal ideological mouthpiece of the US colonial elite. This achievement stands at par with the “bad finger” he raised against striking public school teachers and media during his “eloquent” stint as a spokesman of President Corazon Aquino. These ironically make him stand out as the most “Teflon-coated” of the Edsa I and II poster boys. And, to borrow from modern bio-technology, Teflon can be very poisonous.

The next lesson from the just-concluded elections is that since Philippine society is controlled by a ruling class intent on perpetuating itself through the use of money, controlled media, civil society watchdogs, political-bureaucratic allies in government and the Comelec, and its special ties with the prevailing foreign powers, genuine democratic elections and governance are virtually impossible.

Although it was shown in the 1998 election of President Joseph Estrada that at certain junctures of our history, the genuine voice of the people did prevail, the subsequent success of the Edsa II conspiracy shows that the ruling class, with the complicity of foreign powers, will brook no moral or legal obstacle to turn the military against the people’s will. Of course, the same thing is unfolding in this 2010 presidential election, as we uncover the ruling class using all means fair and foul.

The ongoing congressional inquiry into the massively-reported fraud in the Hocus-PCOS exercise is not the only incidence of fraud in the 2010 elections. The cheating started from Day One when the ruling class and its outgoing puppet regime deliberately kept the Sword of Damocles of disqualification over the head of Joseph Estrada, the only candidate of the people. Its controlled media then fanned this and other negative news about him without let-up. One letter that circulated on the Web, for instance, from Cory Finance Secretary Jess Estanislao, who campaigned for the Yellow dummy, admonished anyone from voting for what he described as a “convicted criminal” despite the fact that he and his ilk have never condemned the “criminality” of Gloria Arroyo, which has been proven many times over by incontrovertible evidence.

Astoundingly, despite Gloria’s many crimes such as the Impsa deal, “Hello Garci,” ZTE-NBN and many others, she still gets a graceful exit because the oligarchs, their corporations and their coterie of professional hirelings enjoyed well over P3 trillion in profits for the past 10 years while Filipinos sank deeper into poverty — a fact that even Gloria apologist Joey Salceda blurted out to deflect some of the Makati Business Club (MBC)’s superficial criticisms of her.

Now that the MBC has a new puppet to lead a second decade of gargantuan profits, we find the two mainstream networks and newspapers (plus Newsweek) using all means before and during the campaign ban to boost the stock of their candidate. All with unlisted expenses, these included subtle marketing pitches and featurettes such as the Ayalas’ Cory Swatch launch, civil society’s “I am Ninoy” youth campaign, the History Channel’s Ninoy retrospective, and many more. Although not technically illegal, these constitute cheating nonetheless. These, of course, do not include the Yellows’ other operations such as the clearly manipulated pre- and post-election surveys.

So now comes this question: Did Arroyo and Smartmatic operators cheat for the Edsa II candidate when Villarroyo started trailing Estrada? While it can be argued that the deaths of Cory and of Eraño Manalo probably helped the Edsa II cause, it is also clear that Erap’s surge inspired a snowballing awe among many voters.

Thus, the new Edsa II dummy needed to have a landslide, perhaps through shaved votes from five other candidates done in an almost undetectable manner. And as “Hello Garci” was exposed a year later, this Hocus PCOS still needs some closer investigation. Still, if cheating in the local level is already smoke, there’s got to be fire somewhere.

Clearly, reforming our electoral system doesn’t require automation, just separating national from local elections; going back to manual voting and precinct-level counts; as well as encoding and transmitting election returns by e-mail to Congress where it should have enough time to canvass with much-needed accuracy. In the end, man decides — not the machines.

(Tune in to 1098AM, Sulo ng Pilipino, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.; Global News Network, Destiny Cable Channel 21, Talk News TV, Tuesday, 8:15 p.m. to 9 p.m. on “The Philippine Political-Economy Post-Gloria Arroyo;” also visit http://hermantiulaurel.blogspot.com)

(Reprinted with permission from Mr. Herman Tiu-Laurel)

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100528com5.html

US troops in fruitless search of Afghan village focus 05/28/2010

US troops in fruitless search of Afghan village



HENDU KALACHEH — “There are many Taliban here but I can’t help you because you come just once or twice. We’re not safe here,” Abdul Rahman tells US soldiers in a field as night falls.
The soldiers sit across from the 28-year-old Afghan villager squatting in his white robes and waistcoat, their conversation lit by a half-moon as Rahman echoes the common refrain of fear in this tiny village in southern Afghanistan.

His predicament underscores the challenge for thinly stretched foreign forces reliant upon on-the-ground intelligence as they battle an elusive enemy. Ordinary Afghans may want to help, but are terrified of Taliban reprisals.
“There are many Taliban here. They pray in the mosque with us and at night they do their own patrols. They announce to the village that no one can come out after 9 p.m.,” he tells the men of 1st squadron, 71st cavalry regiment.

Hendu Kalacheh village borders a suspected supply route for insurgents entering Kandahar city to the north. The US lieutenant in charge decides the troops will return at night when they believe they are more likely to catch insurgents.

In the area below Afghanistan’s second city, about 450 Canadian forces last year tried to secure two large districts but were too stretched to patrol regularly on the northern fringe of their battle space.

As part of a surge of 30,000 extra troops ordered into Kandahar province, the birthplace of the Taliban movement, US soldiers have replaced the Canadians with twice as many men, says Lt. Nathan Derrick, 24.... MORE  

  SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100528com7.html

No puppet SILVER LINING Dean Ernest Maceda 05/28/2010

No puppet

Dean Ernest Maceda
One of the luxuries afforded by President Erap’s record setting 1998 presidential triumph was the carte blanche given him to fill in the thousands of vacancies in government. Because of his facile victory, virtually no strings were left attached to those who “helped” out. Erap was no puppet. Accordingly, he succeeded in assembling a Cabinet and official family of his confidence composed of outstanding public servants with a base so diverse as to include all points on the political spectrum — without regard to the roles they had played to get him elected. Even his search committee was formidable with no less than Prime Minister Cesar Virata agreeing to be part.

Mrs. Arroyo had no such luck. No mandate, no legitimacy. Hence, she was beholden to interest groups and severely limited in her choices. Did anyone fail to see how strings manipulated her with respect to Cabinet members she was saddled with as a trade-off for 2001? Speaking of trade-offs, her record in appointing military officials to the bureaucracy is unmatched in the annals of the presidency. She was fortunate to have such stalwarts as Gibo Teodoro, Ace Durano, Gary Teves and Espie Cabral agree to serve with her. Other best and brightest simply declined the call.
Should Senator Noynoy emerge winner after the dust — now transferred to the congressional canvass — settles, he will have the same freedom enjoyed by Erap in staffing his administration with people who are tapat and may Galing at Talino. Observers are restive on the personalities that Senator Aquino might bring along with him to Malacañang. Because of his apparent popular win, he is generally expected to come up with the cleanest and most competent complement he can find. Like Erap, there will hardly be strings left attached to Noynoy that could be used to control his movements like a marionette.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/commentary/20100528com6.html

Questions raised on authenticity on authenticity By Gerry Baldo 05/28/2010

Questions raised on authenticity on authenticity

By Gerry Baldo

Despite questions raised against the authenticity of the Certificates of Canvass (CoC) the Joint congressional committee on the canvass of votes for president and vice president pushed through yesterday with the opening of the ballot boxes containing votes from overseas Filipinos.

The first ballot box which was opened was from Laos.

Senate President Juan Ponce started the canvassing with the opening of the ballot box received May 11, 2010 containing the CoC from the Kingdom of Laos.

Earlier, Maguindanao Rep. Didagen Dilangalen, a panel member, had questioned the authenticity of the electronically transmitted CoCs even as he cited the lack of certification from the Systest Lab — an international certification entity that has to certify that election equipment to be used in the May 10, 2010 polls are properly operating, secure and accurate.

“Are we ready to accept that the electronically transmitted CoCs, now in the halls of Congress, are authentic, genuine, and dully executed?” Dilangalen asked members of the panel of which he is a member, saying that the law is very clear in that the certification must state that the automated election system (AES), including its hardware and software component, is operating properly, securely and accurately.

Dilangalen pointed out that Systest Lab concluded extensive source for review, documentation review, hardware and functional testing, volume stress and transmission testing to provide the Comelec with the information needed to certify the automated elections system. But, apparently, the Comelec and Smartmatic failed to comply with the conditions called for by Systest Lab.

He said that while the system conforms to key requirements and is operationally suitable for use, “there is no categorical certification that it is operating properly, securely and accurately.”

As the joint congressional canvassing of the results dragged for the fourth straight day without a single CoC being opened, Speaker Prosporo Nograles yesterday questioned the technical capability of Smartmatic in replacing all the Compact Flash (CF) cards it found to be defective in the 76,000 voting precincts all over the country.

At the resumption of the canvassing of both chambers of Congress sitting as the NBoC, Speaker Nograles said that unless Smartmatic has more than 30,000 personnel deployed all over the country to replace the defective CF cards, there is no way the process could have been completed in three days as the contractor of the automated elections claims.

“Eight days before the elections, Comelec and Smartmatic discovered there were problems with the CF cards and they both decided to retrieve all the CF cards from the PCOS machines and bring them back to its plant in Cabuyao, Laguna,” Nograles said.... MORE  

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100528hed1.html

Palace hands off on P500-M Esperon rebel rehab scam Aytch S. de la Cruz 05/28/2010

Palace hands off on P500-M Esperon rebel rehab scam

Aytch S. de la Cruz
Malacañang assumed a hands off policy on allegations of endemic corrupt practices involving some senior and mid-level officials at the Office of Presidential Adviser on Peace Process (OPAPP) that the head of the agency itself, Annabel Abaya, owned up to the other day.

Deputy presidential spokesman Ricardo Saludo said they would rather leave the matter to the Commission on Audit (CoA) and the Office of the Ombudsman which Abaya had asked to investigate the case.

Saludo also mentioned that Malacañang is not inclined to demand an explanation from the previous or the current officials of the OPAPP who could have been the subject of Abaya’s charges.
“As I understand it, she did not specifically name any official. What she was talking about were certain practices that she discovered,” Saludo said.

Abaya told a circle of reporters she invited at her office that a P500-million project for rebel returnees that was initiated by her predecessor and President Arroyo’s trusted ally, Gen. Hermogenes Esperon, has been infested by graft with P170-million worth for funds unaccounted for.

She also mentioned that the previous OPAPP administration made some unauthorized purchases of vehicles and other unnecessary expenditures that have not been explained by the agency’s officials.... MORE  

  SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100528hed5.html

AFP optimistic rightful winners to be proclaimed By Mario J. Mallari 05/28/2010

AFP optimistic rightful winners to be proclaimed

By Mario J. Mallari

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Delfin Bangit yesterday expressed optimism that despite pouring complaints regarding the results of the May 10 polls, the rightful winners would be proclaimed by the institution now conducting the canvassing.

In a chance inter-view at Fort Bonifacio, Bangit also announced he has already issued guidance to all military units nationwide to respect the results of the last synchronized national elections.

“We respect the institution mandated to do the canvassing but in the end, the rightful winners will be proclaimed and then we will have to support that,” Bangit replied when asked if the results of the national elections are worth the respect despite complaints of irregularities cropping up lately.

“If you are telling me or insinuating that there is a possibility, because of the complaints, of altering the result of the election, I have a high regard and high respect to the institution that is doing the canvassing for the elections,” said Bangit.

Complaints about alleged irregularities in the first ever nation-wide automated elections and claims by personalities like alias Robin or koala bear and Manoling Morato regarding offers to rig the polls are presently cropping up, putting to question the integrity of the results.

House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms chairman, Makati Rep. Teddyboy Locsin, for his part, yesterday asked Malacañang to mind is own affairs and not meddle in the House probe he heads with regard to alleged massive cheating in the May 10 automated polls.

“Tell them (Palace) I said shut up before I reveal another link,” Locsin said through a text message when asked for reaction to a statement emanating from the Palace expressing concerns that the House investigation could overlap with the joint congressional canvass for the presidential and vice presidential votes.

Early in the week, Locsin bared some people from the Palace particularly former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, were responsible in the proliferation of video of “koala boy” who claimed there was large-scale cheating during the elections.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100528hed3.html

Amnesty Int’l report: Impunity continues under Gloria 05/28/2010

Amnesty Int’l report: Impunity continues under Gloria

London-based human rights watchdog Amnesty International (AI) recently reiterated similar worldwide findings linking President Arroyo to a culture of impunity under her dawning watch as it claimed in its annual report the widespread and systematic political killings and enforced disappearances of rivals and critics allegedly committed by Philippine security forces.

With this year as a self-imposed govern-ment deadline in thumping a more than three-decade-old communist rebellion, the AI said the military failed to differentiate between communist New People’s Army (NPA) fighters and above-ground activists and human rights defenders belonging to legal organizations.”

“The military subjected civilians to secret detention, torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Both sides carried out politically motivated killings and enforced disappearances. A culture of impunity continued as almost no perpetrators were brought to justice,” the group’s 2010 report released on Thursday in Manila said.
AI called on the Philippine government to provide protection to people at risk of being targeted, and to initiate prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigations into all killings.

The group lamented that while reported cases of political killings have decreased in the last two years, activists and human rights defenders from left-leaning organizations are still being killed or are continuously disappearing.

The group said it recently received reports of local activists being put under surveillance, summoned for questioning, or subjected to smear campaigns by the military.... MORE  

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100528hed4.html

Melo to charge Comelec whistleblower in court 05/28/2010

 Melo to charge Comelec whistleblower in court

An obviously irked Commission on Elections Chairman Jose Melo will bring to court Melchor Magdamo, the lawyer who once worked in Melo’s Comelec office, for squealing on the controversial P700-million ballot secrecy folder scam and, of late, the allegedly anomalous procurement of indelible ink.

Melo yesterday revealed his plan to charge Magdamo with “slander or libel” for bringing out the twin controversies before the media. Melo claimed it was Magdamo who had failed to do his job while he worked under him.

“I think he should be charged with slander or libel or whatever. He should stop issuing statements,” Melo explained, saying Magdamo should have served as his “eyes and ears” when he was appointed to the Comelec’s Bids and Awards Committee. 

Melo even challenged Magdamo to prove his allegations in court and not before the media.

Magdamo revealed the allegedly anomalous purchase of the ballot secrecy folders a month before the May 10 polls. He was joined by Dr. Arwin Serrano of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) in declaring the overpriced deal. 

Magdamo and Serrano did not file charges against any Comelec official, though.

Magdamo also claimed to have been reprimanded by Melo for leaking the story to members of the media.
The Comelec, however, recalled the deal.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

  URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100528hed6.html

NGO to bring GMA rights cases before UN body By Michaela P. del Callar 05/28/2010

NGO to bring GMA rights cases before UN body

By Michaela P. del Callar

A group of local non-government organizations (NGOs) will bring the case of the alleged unlawful detention of medical workers, dubbed the “Morong 43,” and other human rights violations committed by the government of President Arroyo before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva.

The Ecumenical Voice for Peace and Human Rights in the Philippines will send a five-man delegation to attend the 14th Session of the UNHRC in Switzerland, to be held on May 31-June 18. 

The Philippines is presently a member of the UNHRC.

“As the curtain falls on President Arroyo’s nine-year rule, it is most certain that among others, it shall be marked as the worst in terms of adherence to human rights instrumentalities. With the implementation of Oplan Bantay Laya, the most vicious counterinsurgency program in recent memory, her government tops the scale of human rights violators in the country’s history since the martial law years,” Fr. Rex Reyes, Jr., secretary general of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and head of delegation to Geneva, said.

Joining Reyes to the UN are Marie Hilao Enriquez, chairman of the human rights alliance, Karapatan, Atty. Edre Olalia, acting secretary general of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, Atty. Carlos Zarate, secretary general of the Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao, and Roneo Clamor, deputy secretary general of Karapatan.

The 43 health workers or the Morong 43 were arrested last February 6 by military and police forces due to suspicion of their being members of the local communist rebel group. 

The medical workers denied the accusation.... MORE    

SourceThe Daily Tribune

URL: http://www.tribuneonline.org/nation/20100528nat2.html

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