Why does the Commission on Elections insist on ignoring legitimate questions regarding the integrity of the precinct count optical scan machines from various concerned citizens and organizations?
The questions being raised are valid. Comelec should welcome the issues being raised and work closely with these individuals and organizations so that all the doubts raised could be put to rest once and for all.
The poll body, however, seems to be digging its heels. It has decided to do everything on its own and then expect the public to take their word that nothing is going to go wrong with the system that will be used. It is a classic case of stonewalling. This, despite the clear problems of the PCOS machines as shown during the mock elections.
To me, the problem is not even the glitches. These can easily be fixed if they are really just glitches and nothing more serious. The real problem is the statements being made by Chairman Sixto Brillantes and Retiring Commissioner Rene Sarmiento. Shocking and disturbing are the words that come to mind.
Brillantes mentioned that he does not concern himself with technical matters. I cannot imagine the chairman of the Comelec not concerning himself with technical matters since most of the problems that will be encountered in the coming automated elections would certainly be technical. So, how will he go about directing the solutions if he does not understand technical matters? This is dangerous.
This was what apparently happened in the 2010 elections when the Comelec commissioners run circles around Melo because he did not understand technical matters. Melo relied on and trusted his people—naively, if I may say so. The public must be able to count on the Comelec chairman to understand fully his job not only on matters of law but also on matters relating to the Automated Election System.
Sarmiento on the other hand has been quoted as saying that the software that would run the program has been upgraded with nine additional features. Who did the upgrading and what are these upgrades? Why was the public not informed about this?
The public has the right to be informed. If it was Smartmatic that did the upgrading, then the more the public should know and be concerned. Why is that so important? Because if the nine additional features that Sarmiento is talking about was done on the firmware voting application v1.297 (PCOS Application), then the Comelec has a lot explaining to do.
For the information of everyone, voting application v1.297 (PCOS Application) is the software program embedded in the PCOS machine that is Linux based. This software program in effect is the heart and soul of the system since this will give the instructions by which the PCOS Machines will count the data for consolidation. It is also responsible for the data encryption, digitally signing (if enabled) and the transmission of the data.
Sarmiento must explain the so-called upgrades that he is talking about. Would these upgrades/ changes be in the software, the hardware or both? Because if there are added features to the program that will run the PCOS machines, then it is altogether different. This brings to mind the fight between Smartmatic and Dominion. What exactly is the reason? Is it only about money, as Chairman Brillantes is saying? I do not think so.
I suspect that Dominion found out what Smartmatic reportedly did to the 2010 elections and is now perhaps demanding a lot more money. Or maybe, it is simply concerned that Smartmatic would again participate in the manipulation of the upcoming election and damage the reputation of Dominion as a software company. Thus, it does not want to have anything to do with Smartmatic. It is hard to say because no details are coming out about the specifics of the quarrel between the two.
The so-called Automated Election System is not at all automated as widely publicized because voters will still have to fill out a ballot. It is the counting that is automated. There is a difference.
Right now, what is really important is the integrity of the PCOS machines and the software that will run it. It is essential that the Comelec must be able to explain how it could safeguard the whole process not only from outside interference and penetration but more importantly, from the scalawags and scoundrels from within the Comelec and Smartmatic. It has not done this up to this time.
The reported manipulation that took place in the 2010 elections did not come from the outside. They are from within the Comelec and Smartmatic. This is why the CBCP and other organizations who are asking questions must continue to press the Comelec to be more forthcoming. Bishop Broderick Pabillo must continue his advocacy. Sarmiento must explain what these nine added features are. Because of what happened in the 2010 elections, the PCOS machines, I believe, have been severely compromised. And contrary to what Bishop Pabillo said that he cannot present any solid evidence, there is actually no need because the evidence is already in the possession of Comelec.
The problem is that the Comelec simply refuses to open the 2010 national server so that the anomaly can be made public for everyone to see.
One other thing, I am still hoping that former Chairman Melo, now in the twilight of his life, would come out and make peace with his maker and tell the public what he knows about the brutal election manipulation reportedly done in 2010.
I do believe that the vast majority of the voting population wants an automated election. They are simply telling the Comelec to assure them that the conduct of the election will be perceived by one and all as fair and honest. That is not too much to ask.