Where are 8M May ballots? critics ask
As voters manually cast their ballots in barangay (village) elections on Monday, a democracy watchdog is still waiting for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to complete its list of the automated voting results from thousands of villages during the midterm polls in May.
The Tanggulang Demokrasya (TanDem), one of the critics of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines used in the May elections, said automated results from 18,000 clustered precincts—which could affect the 9th to 12th spots of the senatorial race—were never received by the Comelec transparency server.
“Where are the transmissions from the 18,000 precincts, or 23 percent of the total clustered precincts, that would still carry up to 8 million votes? In short, what is the basis of the [senatorial] proclamations?” said TanDem convenor and former diplomat Aldo Paglinawan.
Paglinawan and other TanDem convenors led by executive director Evelyn Kilayko and Philippine Computer Society president Edmundo Casiño spoke on the alleged anomalies in the voting technology in the May 2013 elections during a recent round-table discussion with Inquirer editors and reporters.
The TanDem officials said voters should not believe the message, “Congratulations. Your vote has been registered,” that they read on the PCOS screens after they feed their ballots into the machines.
“It was a mere congratulatory message that never gave assurance that one’s vote was counted, much more correctly tallied,” Paglinawan said.
In Antique, for instance, nearly 41,000 votes have remained unaccounted for, according to Casiño. One town, Anini-y, for instance, had 2,800 votes from 22 individual precincts in seven barangays. If the national turnout, about 76 percent, is applied to the Anini-y precincts, then the votes of some 2,120 people remain uncounted.
Bacoor votes unsent
All PCOS machines in Bacoor City in Cavite, which has some 318,000 voters in 317 clustered precincts, did not transmit results to the transparency server.
Casiño, a lecturer at Asia Pacific College, assigned his students to go over the results from the Comelec transparency server—which receives vote tallies directly from the PCOS machines—and find out which individual precincts were unable to transmit.
The students then checked the Comelec website for the number of registered voters who were covered in each precinct and the barangays of the voters.
Casiño said the transmission of results should follow a “ladderized process”—from the clustered precincts to the municipal server to the provincial server and finally to the national server.
He said that after transmitting to the local government servers, the PCOS machine should transmit directly to the “other servers” belonging to the accredited citizens’ arm, the dominant majority and minority parties, and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas.
The idea, according to Casiño, was that after the counting, results from the ladderized process would eventually match those sent to the “other servers.”
Safeguards not followed
TanDem leaders claimed that “failure” by the Comelec and PCOS manufacturer Smartmatic Corp. to comply with the safeguards laid down by the poll automation law would mean that the proclaimed winners might actually be fake victors with not an iota of legal right to hold public office.
Current and future voters, they said, should keep asking questions about the accuracy and integrity of the 2010 and 2013 automated polls.
Section 7 of Republic Act No. 9369, or the 2006 Automated Elections System (AES) Law, states that among the “minimum system capabilities” required for a voting technology to be adopted by the Comelec is to “provide the voter a system of verification to find out whether or not the machine has registered his choice,” Casiño said.
Verification, central server
“This is a minimum requirement provided under the law—that there is voter verification whether by display or printout. But the people don’t know this. They (voters) think being congratulated [by the PCOS machine] is OK already. In fact, if you overvote, the machine will still congratulate you,” he said.
Casiño said one other alleged violation that the Comelec had committed was the introduction of a central server, which was not even mentioned in the AES Law.
He showed two Comelec resolutions issued before the 2010 polls in which the central server was introduced and inserted in the order of the transmission. In the first resolution, the third and final transmissions of the PCOS machine were for the central server, right after the local government servers and the “other servers.”
In the second, the transmissions to the central server became second while those to the “other servers” became third.
“This was done without explanation and in violation of the law (RA 9369),” Casiño said.
TanDem was one of the cause-oriented groups that called for a comprehensive investigation on how exactly votes were recorded and tallied during the two previous elections.
What the Comelec and various administrations described as successful automated elections in 2010 and this year, TanDem regarded with suspicions of conspiracy to commit massive fraud.
“We are dealing here with the massive destruction of our democratic institutions, starting with the most basic one—the electoral system. An election mafia rules our elections, churning out illegitimately installed leaders whose only claim to legitimacy is the Comelec proclamation,” Paglinawan said.
TanDem’s claims on automated electoral fraud were recently echoed by defeated senatorial candidate and President Aquino’s aunt, Margarita Cojuangco, who even accused Malacañang of knowing about the cheating and covering it up. Both the Comelec and Malacañang, however, dismissed her allegations.
Comelec: Present proof
“It’s not the first time those concerns have been aired out. From the viewpoint of at least the administration, the Comelec has answered these claims,” deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte said.
Comelec spokesman James Jimenez also denied that automated cheating took place. “Whoever makes the accusations has the burden of proving it. Give us something more than a bare allegation,” he said.
With the Comelec insisting that no automated cheating took place, TanDem called on the Supreme Court and the Office of the Ombudsman to help ascertain the truth by acting on or resolving automation-related complaints.
“A fraudulent election means that we are placing in the hands of impostors our territory, Filipinos here and abroad, and all our material assets as a nation, including oil and mineral resources, and the future a P12-trillion annual budget [in the next six years],” Paglinawan said.
One implication of a fraudulent election, he said, was that “democracy is dead in the Philippines,” adding that if electronic cheating was true, the incumbent elected officials may all be considered de facto pretenders.
“This situation does not only present a severe constitutional crisis. It places our republic into flux and great instability. Anytime, any armed organized group can take over government, invoking a constitutional coup d’etat and [say] that it is merely protecting the people and the state from a virtual dictatorship,” Paglinawan said.
Asked how TanDem and other watchdogs could reach out to ordinary voters, who are not familiar with “technology stuff” to explain the alleged anomalies in the AES, Casiño replied, “The easiest way to interest them is by telling them, ‘Your vote was not counted.’”
According to Paglinawan, there have been several “smoking guns” that would indicate that massive cheating through the AES took place, at least during the May 2013 senatorial elections.
The foremost of these were the so-called “60-30-10 pattern” exposed by Ateneo de Manila University math professor Lex Muga, also a TanDem convenor, a few days after the May 13 polls.
Muga observed that in the 17 canvass reports of the Comelec, candidates in the so-called Magic 12 belonging to the administration’s Team PNoy consistently obtained about 60 percent of the total votes; followed by candidates from the United Nationalist Alliance, who got about 30 percent; and independent senatorial candidates, 10 percent.
Paglinawan said Muga’s final tally of successively added results from 59,667 out of 77,829 clustered precincts showed the “60-30-10 pattern.”
Muga obtained his data from the election returns transmitted by the PCOS machines to the transparency server under the care of the Comelec’s official citizens arm, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting, and media groups.
“The only explanation for this is that everybody (voters) is a robot. [On Election Day] everybody woke up at the same time, went to the precincts at the same time and cast their votes in the same manner,” Casiño said.
Paglinawan, however, said the 59,667 clustered precincts corresponded to only 77 percent of all clustered precincts in the 2013 elections.
Missing 8M votes
“So where are the transmissions of the rest of the 18,000 clustered precincts, or 23 percent of the total clustered precincts that would still carry up to 8 million votes?” he asked.
Paglinawan said the Comelec still had to take into account of the “missing votes.”
He recalled that despite criticisms from some politicians and watchdog groups, the Comelec proceeded with proclaiming the top six winners of the senatorial race with the agency’s canvass not yet 100-percent transmitted.
TanDem’s also cast doubt on provinces, cities or overseas posts reflected in the 17 canvass reports for the senatorial race prepared by the Comelec.
Paglinawan observed that first, many PCOS machines had failed to transmit their results; and second, the Comelec eventually accepted “group canvass reports” for its tally, so there was no basis to say that.
Therefore, he said, it could not be said that the areas appearing in a canvass report were included randomly, especially since the law of large numbers applied to random samples.
“What was designed to receive inputs on a first-in-first-out basis became a funnel scenario. Imagine a funnel full of precinct outputs at the bigger end trying to get ahead of one another toward its small end. The entering data are random but the exit is ruled by groupings by provinces and cities,” Paglinawan explained in a controversial paper he issued a few weeks after the elections.
He cited the case of Antique, where the 60-30-10 pattern was also recorded, which appeared in the first canvass report.
Casiño said an inspection of the results from Antique on the Comelec website showed the province was not able to transmit results from clustered precincts with some 18,000 registered votes.
Paglinawan said the areas listed in each canvass report were already “preselected.”
He theorized the existence of a “short stop”—possibly a secret server with preloaded and spurious election results— that consolidated by batches the transmitted results and then sent these to the central Comelec server.
The real votes, on the other hand, were deleted, Paglinawan claimed.
TanDem convenors summed up their position on the AES by a quote attributed to the late Soviet strongman Josef Stalin: “It’s not the people who vote that matters, it’s the people who count the votes.”
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