Election advocates, poll officials gear for 2013 polls
Jan. 03, 2012
Non-government election watchdogs, poll officials, representatives of Congress and political parties, and IT practitioners pledged on Dec. 13 to work for a voter-friendly, fraud- and glitch-free synchronized elections in May 2013. The pledge of commitment was made at the conclusion of the half-day Multi-Stakeholders RoundTable Discussion sponsored by the Automated Election System Watch (AES Watch) at the University of the Philippine – Information and Technology Training Center (UP-ITTC) in Diliman, Quezon City.
Joining the solemn pledge of commitment were Commission on Elections (Comelec) commissioners led by Chair Sixto Brillantes, Jr. Commissioners Augusto “Gus” Lagman and Christian Robert Lim, and Planning Director Ferdinand Rafanan; AES Watch co-conveners, among them, Evita L. Jimenez, executive director of CenPEG, Maricor Akol (TransparentElections.org), Nelson Celis (PCS Foundation), Pablo Manalastas (CenPEG IT consultant), Eric Jude Alvia (secretary general of Namfrel), Felix Muga II, CenPEG Senior Fellow, and Toti Casino (also PCS Foundation). They were joined by former Isabela governor Grace Padaca; Satur Ocampo, president of Makabayan coalition; Sr. Gloria Carmen Eamiguel, FFM, of Biliran Kawsa; Fr. Joe Dizon of Kontra Daya; Eric Manalang of Kapatiran Party; and Bishop Deogracias Iniguez of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
They also committed to encourage the participation of Filipino IT in promoting a technology system for the 2013 elections which will also be synchronized with the polls in the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).
Envisioned by CenPEG under its Project 30-30, the multi-stakeholders dialogue was co-organized with the UP-ITTC and the National Citizens Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel).
In a statement, AES Watch renewed its call for the convening of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee (JCOC) on the automated elections to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the May 2010 elections and recommend a new technology if needed. While it urged the opening of public bidding for the next election technology, AES Watch called for the disqualification of the Dutch-Venezuelan marketing firm, Smartmatic, from further participating in the bidding for a new election technology.
“Not only was it not the real owner of the election technology used in the first automated election but it also failed to deliver according to the Terms of Reference and the basic technical requirements of transparency, accuracy, reliability, and auditability as provided by the Poll automation law. What more proof of disqualification and accountability is there than the fact that the CAC itself in its June 2010 report recommended the non-purchase of its brand of PCOS technology,” AES Watch stated. Moreover, “the program bugs and errors were supposed to have been ‘corrected’ and re-certified by SysTest Labs last May but until now no such action has been shown despite a PhP20M advance payment by the Comelec,” the broad citizens election watchdog composed of 40 organizations added.
In the coming elections, the coalition also said, “let not the electoral process be left in the hands of the technology provider; the poll body needs the support and help of all stakeholders. The past Comelec media hype to ‘trust the machine’ should not be allowed to blind the voter to complacency. A machine and its operations work only according to the programming and control of a few, hence the need for greater transparency in its preparations. Democracy should be the end-goal of election, not the marketing objectives of foreign outsourcing.”
In the dialogue, Brillantes confirmed that the election system provided by Smartmatic in 2010 had “deficiencies”. He challenged the Filipino IT community to show that it is capable of developing a technology in the coming elections.
Also joining the dialogue, among others, were UP Vice President for Administration Maragtas Amante; Atty. George Quevedo, Comelec Advisory Council (CAC); lawyer Ryan Quilala, representing Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III; Prof. Jimmy Caro, UP-ITTC; Bishop Gabriel Garol, CenPEG Board member; Terry Ridon, Kabataan Partylist; Connie Bragas-Regalado, Migrante Partylist; Anna Leah Escresa, We Watch; Paco Alcuaz, Pinoy Power; Romulo R. Agatep, PETEF; Mila Alipit de Guzman, UPAA board; Atty. Manja Bayang of CenPEG; Atty. Rona Caritos of Lente; and Atty. Greg Fabros, ACT Partylist. CenPEG News