By Carmen N. Pedrosa | The Philippine Star
As a member of the committee to evaluate candidates for Comelec chairman in GMA’s time I was shocked at the remarks of top Comelec personnel. They said not only can they make losing candidates win they could also make winning candidates lose if the price was right. It was a confidential meeting and nothing more was said about it.
But I think it is time to review once again what has happened to our elections since we adopted the Smartmatic-PCOS automatic electoral system in 2010.
In 2016 we were able to overcome the cheating mechanism with the victory of the top presidential candidate – Rodrigo Duterte – and thought it was enough because he had said time and again during the campaign that he would change the system. There was wild cheering in the crowds when he said he will eliminate Congress. Here finally was a man with the character and determination to do it. How did he win in a Smartmatic PCOS election which was designed to favor candidates, most of whom were Liberals in power? The talk that went around was that the votes for Duterte were so overwhelming that the cheating machines were unable to catch up in the avalanche of real votes. The machines could not defeat real votes because people voted in droves never seen before.
In a few months, we face another election. We will have the same machine vs. real voter election. It might not be presidential but it is just as crucial because the machines can be made to make senatorial candidates who will return the old system of the moneyed and powerful. If it does and it is feared it will, the election of Duterte and his program for reform in 2016 will ultimately be defeated. That, I think is the game plan of the oligarchy with the corrupt and criminal politicians leading the pack.
Unless the Duterte government has its own game plan to overcome the destroyers of reform through the 2019 elections, it is my opinion that we are headed for a failed election with the legislative as electoral tribunal deciding who wins and who loses. And we will do nothing about it. We have seen it happen in three elections 2010, 2013 and 2016. We have not learned our lessons, we will have it again in 2019 until an iron hand is used to tackle the issue – using machines that are hacked to decide.
As an aside, I am told by the supporters of machine elections that we have to have elections because it is unconstitutional not to have one. What about having elections that break the provisions of the Constitution? It is a contradiction we have to face. The concept of machines voting instead of voters is unconstitutional. More than unconstitutional it violates the principles of freedom, justice and democracy. And we are going head-on to do it again in 2019.
Whatever happened to the Dominion Voting Systems Inc. against the Smartmatic-PCOS in Delaware? Was it resolved and how?
Then Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Sixto Brillantes said that the impasse over the source code of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines bought by the Comelec for the 2013 election came after earlier battles between Smartmatic and Dominion Voting Systems Inc. overseas.
“That’s in fact the case in Delaware, the fight in Puerto Rico and Mongolia. Nasabit ang Pilipinas. ‘Di ko naman minamasama masyado. I’m still talking to them,” he said.
The source code is the human readable instruction software for the PCOS machines, as well as the consolidation and canvassing systems that will be used in the election.
The Automated Election Law requires that the source code be open to review 90 days before the polls. Will it?
However, third-party reviewer Systest Labs Inc. has not released the source code and its certification because of the legal battle between Smartmatic and Dominion, which owns the original software.
Asked if he thought the legal battle was a portent of Dominion’s possible entry into the Philippines as provider of election systems in the 2016 elections, Brillantes said, “they’re only interested in one thing – money.”
Two cases were pending in Delaware – a collection suit filed by Smartmatic against Dominion for what it believes was the illegal termination of its software license agreement for the PCOS machines in the Philippines with Smartmatic, and a counterclaim filed by Dominion against Smartmatic for alleged breach of contract.
In both cases, both companies also traded accusations of unfair competition in securing election supplier contracts in Mongolia and Puerto Rico.
“Dominion International’s conduct in Mongolia and Puerto Rico appear to be consistent with a pattern of activity designed to interfere with Smartmatic’s prospective business relationships and prejudice Smartmatic International’s ability to compete,” according to one of the documents in the case.
Smartmatic’s collection suit, which was filed in September 11, 2012, accused Dominion of, among others:
(1) improperly purporting to terminate the License Agreement based upon an incorrect and pretextual interpretation of the geographic scope of the Agreement’s non-compete clause;
(2) failing to deliver fully functional technology for use in the 2010 Philippines national election;
(3) failing to provide timely technical support during and after the Philippines election;
(5) failing to provide Smartmatic with information relating to the Licensed Technology, including new developments to the licensed technology;
(6) intentionally frustrating Smartmatic’s right to market, lease, and sell the licensed technology; and
(7) failing to place in escrow the required source code, hardware design, and manufacturing information.
Smartmatic questioned Dominion’s basis for terminating the license agreement because of an alleged breach by Smartmatic of a non-compete clause with Dominion in the US.
If this was not resolved then we are going to use defective technology in 2019.
The complaint further held Dominion liable for a defect in the technology, with the latter’s software allegedly failing to correctly read and record the paper ballot during a test of the automated voting system conducted shortly before the election.
“This relates to the problems encountered one week before the Elections in May 2010, where the software provided by Dominion was producing inaccurate results of the testing and sealing ballots,” Smartmatic’s Cesar Flores said.
This prompted Smartmatic to redeploy a new set of CF cards with the corrected configuration.
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes said he will advise against the use of Smartmatic PCOS machines in the 2016 elections due to the large number of criticisms with the system in the last two elections. Was that done?