The Philippine Star – Glenn Chong and the koala bear

By Carmen N. Pedrosa | The Philippine Star

To many of us, the reappearance of Glenn Chong in the public eye is welcome. His story on cheating that took place through an automated election system happened as far back as the 2010 presidential system when the Comelec teamed up with Smartmatic-PCOS group to decide who wins and who loses in Philippine elections.

Glenn Chong was one of those who knew how elections were manipulated by the automated system. But he is just one of them. There were others. The difference is that Glenn has made his case against cheating through Smartmatic’s automated electoral system as his life’s cause. I don’t know how far he will go and how long the media and other advocates will support. I talked to some of them and wrote several columns at the time when it was the no. 1 controversy. We cannot go on having elections until this problem is solved. It is a joke.

I was a member of the commission that selected former Supreme Court Justice Jose A.R. Melo as the new chairman of the Comelec. Through the hearings, the so-called human rights groups were against appointment because they said he was the candidate of then President Cloria Macapaga- Arroyo. On the day of selection I was surprised when the same human rights and civil rights groups turned around and in a letter signifying their vote they also voted for him. What happened to all their objections? Until today I am puzzled by the turn around. There is a story behind it. I was able to talk to Liberal chief Bernardino Abes who was the chairman, but he did not give an answer either.

Glenn Chong was not the first witness of the questionable Comelec use of Smartmatic-PCOS. A masked man showed up in a press conference held (of all places) in the CBCP with an unbelievable tale of a massive cheating operation that cost at least P1 billion.

According to the masked man six million were shaved off Gilberto Teodoro’s votes, four million from Erap Estrada’s and three million from Eddie Villanueva’s. It was a dagdag bawas operation giving all the votes to Noynoy Aquino that made him President. But instead of manual votes, voters were assured that the counting was accurate because it was automated, done by machines that will not lie. A mistale but still the masked man’s allegations could not be believed and it was eventually forgotten; I don’t know what happened to him. We were sold on the fact that machines don’t make mistakes. Moreover, Noynoy’s mother, Cory, the heroine of Edsa had just died recently and the news that went around was the Noynoy’s votes must have been padded by 13 million. But how come the last Comelec tally showed him garnering only a little over that number? His votes in Cebu alone were more than a million. Are they saying he got zero in all the other provinces?

To his credit, Teodoro chose not to dignify the unbelievable claim. Neither did Manny Villar. Better leave it and take it on the chin which is unfortunate. Other people would take up the cause as Glenn Chong is doing. But his story must start at the correct time – the 2010 presidential elections.

These others would have come out in the open but they did not have the nerve of the masked man even to try and do battle with the establishment. The masked man gave his name as “Robin” and became a laughing stock when then Congressman Teodoro Locsin referred to him as “koala bear.” Some did want an investigation but Locsin said how do you summon a “koala bear.“ who still refused to give his name, preferring to be known only as “Robin.”

There are advocates for making Glenn Chong the Comelec Chairman but what can one man do against a whole system? Not much. I don’t think he will end up like Professor Andres Bautista who got a lot of praise and who they said had a commendable reputation to clean up Comelec. Hmm.

I go by the decision of the High Court of Germany that rejected automatic electoral voting. It said in essence that if voters, even the fairly learned, are not able to follow the entire process from writing who they voted for and how it was counted not acceptable. For this reason, the High Court said automated elections are unconstitutional.

Voters are not techies and they cannot leave it in the hands of partisan or paid hackers. That is why Germany has gone back to manual voting and so did other countries who were more aware and rejected Smartmatic and its voting machines.

On March 3, 2009, the Federal Constitutional Court issued a decision that may prevent the use of electronic voting machines in future German elections. (Bundesverfassungsgericht, Docket Nos. 2 BvC 3/07 & 2 BvC 4/07, http://www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de/entscheidungen/cs20090303_2bvc000 307.html (last visited Mar. 23, 2009); Press Release No. 19/2009, Federal Constitutional Court, Use of Voting Computers in 2005 Bundestag Election Unconstitutional (Mar. 3, 2009) [in English], available at http://www.bundesverfassungsgericht.de/pressemitteilungen/bvg09-019en.ht ml.) “The case concerned the federal election of 2005 in which 39 voting districts in several states used electronic voting machines instead of paper ballots. Some two million votes were cast in this manner.

“The Court held that the particular voting machines used in the election did not live up to the constitutional principle of transparency of elections, which requires that voting machines be safeguarded against potential manipulation or error through procedures that are understandable to the average citizen. The Court, however, did not invalidate the election, because there had been no evidence of abuse or error involving the machines.” (Not so in the Philippines where enough evidence were found.)

The Court invalidated the Federal Voting Machine Regulation (Bundeswahlgeräteverordnung, Sept. 3, 1975, BUNDESGESETZBLATT I at 2459, as amended, available at http://bundesrecht.juris.de/bwahlgv/index.html).

“This Regulation failed to require transparent control mechanisms for ensuring an accurate vote count and thereby violated article 38 and article 20, paragraphs 1 and 2, of the Basic Law (the Federal Constitution) (Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (Grundgesetz, GG) [in English translation], “http://www.iuscomp.org/gla/statutes/GG.htm#20 (last visited Mar. 23, 2009). “Article 38 guarantees free and equal elections, whereas article 20, paragraph 1, requires that governmental power be based on elections and paragraph 2 guarantees that laws and regulations are in conformity with the Constitution.”

Until the problem is solved, the Duterte government will have every reason to cancel elections, put a better system of government in place that will allow for a return to manual elections with the proper safeguards.

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