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TECHNO-DISASTER — COMELEC CRITICS

By Joel E. Zurbano | May. 19, 2013 at 12:02am
The Commission on Elections on Saturday  proclaimed  three more  senatorial  candidates to complete the  12  Senate winners in the  May 13 elections even as its critics warned  of  violations of the Constitution because of “premature and faulty”   proclamation  with one describing the recent polls  a “technology disaster.”

Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes named the three: Cynthia Villar, who ran under the administration ticket Team Pnoy,  Joseph Victor Ejercito and    Gregorio Honasan, who both  of the United Nationalist Alliance. Nancy Binay  of UNA and Koko Pimentel of Team PNoy joined the Saturday proclamation.

As of 7 pm, the Comelec en banc sitting as the National Board of Canvassers tallied 129 out of the 304 certificates of canvass.

Villar ranked tenth in  the magic 12 with 13,625,351 votes while Ejercito placed number 11 with 13,476,446 votes and Honasan had 13,019,299 votes.

Former senator Richard Gordon ranked number 13 with 12,324,291 votes.

The tally showed that nine senatorial bets from Team Pnoy, led by former Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chairman Grace Poe, entered the top 12 while three from UNA made it  to the magic 12,  led by  Binay, daughter of Vice President Jejomar Binay.

Poe was still on top followed by Loren Legarda,  Francis Escudero,  Alan Peter Cayetano, Binay, Edgardo Angara, Aquilino, Pimentel, Antonio Trillanes IV,  Villar, and Honasan.

Former Senator Francisco Tatad  on Saturday also  shared the view that  the proclamation  process was faulty.

“Salitang diyaryo,” Tatad said of  Brillantes threat to  resign  over the issue of premature proclamation.

UNA secretary general Toby Tiangco and election lawyer Romulo Macalintal questioned  the proclamation of the first batch of winning senators, saying it was illegal.

Macalintal asked the commission to issue another certificate of proclamation (COP) to the nine winning candidates to legitimize the process of  their victory.

FINAL  THREE. The National Board of Canvassers proclaims senators-elect (from left) Gregorio Honasan, Cynthia Villar, Nancy Binay, JV Ejercito and Aquilino  Pimentel. Binay and Pimentel played catchup after both snubbed their earlier proclamation.  DANNY PATA


He also urged the proclaimed senators to return their certificates of proclamation, which were null and void.

“Such proclamation is defective because it does not contain the number of votes obtained by the alleged winners and no ranking was made but merely based on alphabetical order,” he said.

Macalintal said under its own rules, Comelec  does not even have the authority to make a partial proclamation; the rules provide for a “completion of canvass” as basis  for  the proclamation, he said.

Brillantes said there was nothing irregular with the proclamation of  nine of the 12 winners even if there were still millions of uncanvassed votes.

“There is nothing wrong if we advance the proclamation, which is actually better,” he said.

The Comelec proclaimed the winners based on the grouped canvass report to determine who made it to the top 12. This report, which is forwarded to the Comelec through fax, contains votes gathered so far by candidates in all positions and the number of registered voters.

“Grouped canvass report can take the place of COC (certificate of canvass) as partial results,” said Brillantes.

Election watchdog Automated Election System (AES) Watch said  the second automated elections in the country fared from bad to worse, and a technology and political disaster.

The group said in 2010, a significant number of clustered precincts in both provinces and cities had delayed transmissions of up to two days, and as of May 17 or four days after this year’s election, 18,187 clustered precincts or 23% of the total number failed to transmit election returns affecting if not potentially disenfranchising 8.6 million voters.

The AES Watch also recorded more than 50% of 1,173 reported problems were related to the use of the precinct count optical scan machines – from initialization errors, machine breakdown to hardware problems and ballot rejection.

A total of 1,432 monitored clustered precincts from all over the country had either PCOS or transmission problems. This is equivalent to 1.432 million compromised votes.

Compared to 2010, there are more data discrepancies as well as open and brazen possible manipulation of election data at the stage of canvassing and consolidation.

The group cited for example the ultra-fast and inflated count of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting caused by program error, the highly-suspicious intervention of Smartmatic technicians in fixing the program and deletion of an Election Return file, the 44-hour lull at 69% of ERs, and the absence of random manual audit results five days after election.

AES Watch had weeks before election called for a full, 100% parallel manual counting of votes cast as the remaining compensating mechanism for establishing the accuracy and credibility of the elections.  “It is for these reasons that we also declared that Comelec is the one creating the conditions toward casting doubts on the legitimacy of the elections and triggering a public clamor to demand a failure of election.” With Rio Araja
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