Saturday, 17 April 2010

Comelec will not allow failure of elections

Ana Mae G. Roa and Gerard S. dela Peña

Despite the fears expressed by various groups of a possible failure of the first general automated polls in May, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has made assurances that it will not permit a failure of elections scenario.

"Admittedly, people will be wary. What we do is we’re being open as possible and we’re keeping everybody informed...We simply won’t allow failure of elections to happen to favor anyone," said Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Y. Larrazabal in a briefing yesterday.

In a related development, Executive Secretary Leandro R. Mendoza said the Comelec, poll technology provider Smartmatic-Total Information Management Corp., the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the PNP have agreed to coordinate in providing security for the polling machines during the May 10 elections.

"The Comelec has security requirements which cannot be handled by the AFP and the PNP. They do not have those kinds of resources and manpower. So there was an agreement on the utilization of human resources [during their command conference on Thursday]," Mr. Mendoza told reporters on Friday at the sidelines of arrival honors for President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo after her trip to the United States of America and Spain.

"Smartmatic has ’built-in’ security’ [as per agreement with Comelec] so it’s actually just a matter of coordination," he added.

Security measures being undertaken should allay concerns on the probability that there will be massive cheating during the elections, he said.

"We are doing everything to make the elections very credible. The last thing that we should have is a failure of elections," he said.

Multinational firm Pacific Strategies and Assessments (PSA) on Thursday released a report detailing 14 risks and vulnerabilites that could pose problems or completely derail the upcoming elections.

The PSA report, titled "Assessing 2010 Elections Automation in the Philippines," said that there is widespread suspicion that President Gloria-Macapagal-Arroyo "will somehow capitalize on automated elections problems or failure to advance her and her family’s interests and perpetuate herself in power."

A group of IT professionals earlier asked the Comelec to conduct a parallel full manual count for the positions of president, vice-president and mayor to maintain the credibility of the elections.

Among the risks and vulnerabilities cited by PSA are: a restricted source code review; undetermined plan to secure the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines; PCOS machines, servers, printers, power generators, memory cards and batteries have not been fully tested; only 70% of the polling centers have cellular or broadband signals for transmission of voting results.

Further, it added that the printing of ballots has been drastically delayed and the transportation and housing of machines is unclear.

The PSA also said that the teachers who will serve as the board of election inspectors have not been trained sufficiently, the voters’ list has not been cleansed thoroughly, and voters have not been sufficiently informed of their new precinct assignments.

Mr. Larrazabal, however, said that all the machines have been tested at the warehouse in Cabuyao, Laguna, and will further be audited during testing and sealing three days prior the elections.

With regard to the source code review, he said that the Comelec has issued guidelines for it but different civic and political parties did not agree with procedure.

"What if on election day, the whole Philippines [would suffer a] black out? The PCOS will work because it has a 16-hour battery...Not all areas in the Philippines have mobile network coverage, [but there’s] satellite transmission to transmit data... There are back-up plans," Mr. Larrabal said.

He added that the teachers have undergone training and were certified by the Department of Science and Technology.

On the voters’ list, Mr. Larrazabal said the full commission has ordered election officers to manually cross out the voters with multiple registrations.

Meanwhile, Comelec spokesperson James Arthur B. Jimenez, said precinct results will be uploaded to the election results website after a polling precinct closes.

However, it will take at least 48 hours after the voting before the consolidated report of votes for presidents, vice-presidents, senators, congressmen and other local positions, however, would be available.

The results will be put on a secured website and its URL (uniform resource locator) address will be announced three days before the elections, he added.

No comments:

Post a Comment