By Charlie V. Manalo
House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms chairman Makati Rep. Teddyboy Locsin yesterday backtracked on his earlier statement clearing Smartmatic on the allegations of poll fraud saying it is too early to absolve the PCOS
machines supplier from any wrongdoing.
At the conclusion of the House probe into reports of massive cheating in the country’s first automated polls, Locsin said that with Smartmatic not being consistent in its statements, he cannot help but suspect that Smartmatic may also be involved in the electoral fraud one way or another.
“No. you can’t make that expectation (of clearing Smartmatic) until I look at the evidence and testimonies,” Locsin said when asked if he was ready to clear Smartmatic. “It cannot be. You gave answers to those questions for weeks. If your answers keep changing, this is the sign of something.”
Locsin Jr. admitted that the automated election system is
“susceptible” to cheating, explaining that cheating in the last elections cannot be ruled out, with the admission of Smartmatic that ballots can be rescanned as well as the data stored in the same compact flash (CF) cards.
Manipulation of votes favoring certain candidates with the Board of Election Inspectors (BEIs) participation is very probable, Locsin said.
Last week, after the House panel conducted an ocular inspection at the Smartmatic plant in Cabuyao, Laguna, Locsin declared he was satisfied with the PCOS machines supplier’s explanation and demonstration.
“When we went to Cabuyao visit I asked them a summary and the critics said of automation, they passed the test, now we will see about the rest of the testimonies, the consistencies of the reasoning, which is the transcript,” said Locsin.
Locsin also cited the case of Biliran Rep. Glen Chong, which he said was the best testimony on the alleged cheating. While Chong lost by mere 600 votes to his rival, the solon presented documentary evidence such as election returns (ERs) which showed huge discrepancies.
Locsin said he would finish his committee report on the probe, adding the next Congress might use as basis on whether to push forward with the automated election or revert to manual.
“We will know. My report is just one aspect how it will be used by 15th Congress plus other data because they will continue to open other things. We will determine the fate of the automated elections. Then there are the barangay elections, there is a suggestions that we use shaded ballots although it will be counted manually,” said Locsin.
“I expect to finish the report, hope soon. I write fast and I’m very smart, plus I have a very good staff.”
In a related development, the policy research institution, Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG), is seeking the release of at least 22 documents related to the Automated Election System (AES) prepared and implemented for the May 10, 2010 national synchronized polls
CenPEG said “various stakeholders (need) to help find answers to many questions that affect the credibility of the elections, especially with regard to some unusual incidences occurring with the PCOS (precinct count optical scan) machines of the Smartmatic-propelled automated system.
“An objective study can only be done if pertinent data and information, relevant to the study at hand, shall be accessible and made available to researchers and scholars, so that a no-nonsense body of knowledge can be developed in the interest of public service and good governance,” CenPEG added, as it also pledged confidentiality and a copy of the final draft of the study and recommendations.
The documents CenPEG is asking for are: SysTest full report; source code walkthrough plan; source code of the PCOS program; source code of the CCS programs; file formats of all data files used or produced by the PCOS program; file formats of all data files used or produced by the CCS program; public keys used by all the PCOS computers; public keys used by all the CCS computers; user manual of the PCOS program; user manual of the CCS program; Smartmatic-Comelec contract with the complete annexes; finance and budget plan of the AES-Smartmatic; copy of the Smartmatic Voters’ Education contract; contract between Smartmatic and the Dominion Voting Systems; contract on transmission and deployment plan of the transmission facilities; report on the PCOS transmission on May 10 and thereafter; report on the customization; old ballot faces (national and local) matching the faulty CF cards; new ballot faces (national and local) actually used for the May 10 elections; report on the training of BEIs and technicians; inventory of compact flash cards used in the final testing and sealing; and the re-configured CF cards for May 10.
The Liberal Party, meanwhile debunked claims that Senator Mar Roxas lost the vice-presidential race in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) because of his consistent position against the Memorandum of Agreement-Ancestral Domain (MoA-AD) between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
LP Director General Chito Gascon reiterated Roxas could have been a victim of the same notorious ‘dagdag bawas’ (vote shaving and padding) scheme which made numerous candidates in past national elections win.
Gascon insisted it was not Roxas’ resistance to the MoA-AD that caused him the ARMM votes but a possible illegal manipulation scheme that saw the senator’s votes shaved and his rival’s votes padded. “We see today the same disturbing trends in 2004 in the same places in ARMM,” he stressed.
He pointed out the following facts: A turnout of almost 98 percent in 578 of 2,558 PCOS machines in ARMM; A turnout of over 97 percent in 180 of 881 machines in Lanao Del Sur where the provincial turnout is only 76.26 percent; A 100 percent turnout in clustered precincts in Tagoloan II, Lanao Del Sur with all the voters voting for Binay; A turnout of over 98 percent in 186 of 769 machines in Maguindanao where the provincial turnout is only 69.51 percent.; A 99 percent turnout in clustered precincts in Datu Odin Sinsuat, Maguindanao with all votes going for Binay; An election return from a clustered precinct in Maguindanao clearly showed that polls closed at 6 in the morning on Election Day.
The LP said that reports indicated that elections did not happen in entire towns in Lanao Del Sur but the PCOS machines in such places still transmitted supposed election results.
Gascon added: “The fact remains that the disturbing trends in the questionable election results are found in ARMM where Binay won by a wide margin with unusually high turnouts.