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Group sues PPCRV, poll execs over PCOS flaws

/ 05:10 AM July 06, 2013

A voter’s rights advocacy coalition has included the head of a Church-backed election watchdog in a complaint filed with the Ombudsman alleging  the failure of electoral officials to implement anticheating measures.

The Tanggulang Demokrasya (TanDem) coalition and Bagumbayan, the political party of former Sen. Richard Gordon, accused Henrietta de Villa, chair of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), for overlooking deficiencies in the operation of precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines in the 2010 national elections.

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It is the third complaint filed against election officials in less than a month.  Another election watchdog, AES Watch, filed two separate complaints with the Ombudsman last June, accusing past and present Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials and the supplier of the ballot counting machines of “abysmal” failure in safeguarding the integrity  of the 2010 and 2013 elections.

In the new complaint, TanDem and Bagumbayan accused De Villa of “deceitfully” giving the PCOS machines a passing mark  even though their accuracy rate was only 99.6 percent—several notches below the 99.995 percent accuracy rate mandated under the Automated Election System (AES) Law.

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Also, “by willfully, maliciously and feloniously conspiring and removing the randomness of the manual audit in gross violation of the requirements under the AES Law, all the respondents, both past and present, including respondent De Villa, interfered and impeded with, as well as prevented the proper use of computer counting devices (the PCOS machines), which affected the processing, generation and transmission of election results, data or information,” said the complaint filed by TanDem chair Evelyn Kilayco, its president Teresita Baltazar and Bagumbayan president Leon Herrera.

Critics point out that a random manual audit, to be conducted three to five hours at the end of the balloting to check if the PCOS machines were working well, was supposed to be conducted in one precinct in each of the 234 legislative districts. They said Brillantes removed the randomness of the audit by selecting and announcing the precincts way before Election Day.

TanDem and Bagumbayan charged De Villa along with two sets of respondents.

The first group of respondents listed former Comelec Chair Jose A.R. Melo with former Commissioners Rene Sarmiento, Nicodemo Ferrer,  Armando Velasco and Gregorio Larrazabal, and incumbent Commissioners Lucenito  Tagle and Elias Yusoph. They were accused of violating the AES Law by passing Comelec Resolution  No. 8786,  which  suspended  various security features that diluted  the criticial element of randomness in the manual audit of the 2010 elections.

The second group included current Comelec Chair Sixto Brillantes Jr. and Commissioners Tagle, Yusoph, Christian Robert Lim and Grace Padaca. They were accused of failing to conduct a source code review of the PCOS before their use in the recent elections. TanDem and Bagumbayan said Smartmatic-TIM should also be held liable for turning off the digital signatures and vote verification function.

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TAGS: 2013 elections, PCOS machines, Philippine election, PPCRV
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