The Automated Election System Watch (AES Watch) announces the national search for technology excellence which aims to develop a model for poll automation in the Philippines.

Posted by CenPEG
May 7, 2011

The search for Filipino IT (FIT) election technology is on!

In a press conference on May 6, 2011 the Automated Election System Watch (AES Watch) announced the national search for technology excellence which aims to develop a model for poll automation in the Philippines.

The search was announced by AES Watch through one of its co-conveners, Prof. Nelson J. Celis, who also chairs the Philippine Computer Society (PCS) Foundation. Open to IT programmers, professionals, and students the quest aims to look for an election technology system crafted through Filipino IT expertise.

The announcement was made as leaders of AES Watch, a broad citizens' election watchdog, marked one year of the country's first automated polls held last May 10, 2010. The group reiterated its call for the junking of the Smartmatic-provided automated election system which its member-organizations, particularly the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG), found defective in terms of technology, transmission infrastructure, management, and legal implementation.

In a joint statement read by known IT computer science guru, Dr. Pablo Manalastas, AES Watch said its various assessments "found the Smartmatic-supplied PCOS technology was full of bugs and errors, and the 99.6% accuracy rate of the Comelec's random manual audit falling radically short of the required 99.995% accurate rate, hence, is not fit for use in any election."

"Until now," Manalastas added, "none of our (AES Watch) findings on the AES that was implemented one year ago has been rebutted by either Comelec or Smartmatic."

"Yet it defies human logic and common sense that despite public concerns about the AES – including from the country's key IT organizations and academics – the Comelec is hell-bent on re-using the discredited Smartmatic PCOS in the coming elections," the statement read by Manalastas said.

CenPEG's director for policy studies, Bobby M. Tuazon, meanwhile disputed Comelec's claim of Smartmatic's "private intellectual property right" over the election technology saying that it runs counter to the election as a public political exercise.

Comelec is covering up for the possible misrepresentation by Smartmatic when it said during the 2009 bidding that it owned the technology when in fact it is owned by Dominion Voting Systems based in the U.S., Tuazon said.

"The technology was paid for by the Filipino taxpayers at P7 billion and therefore any claim of 'private intellectual property' is inappropriate," Tuazon said. "The people's right to know about the trustworthiness of the technology through an independent source code review supersedes any claim – false as it is – of private ownership."

Manalastas also said that Comelec is wrong in upholding the vendor's (Smartmatic's) "private ownership" when it should instead be protecting the public's voting rights.

AES Watch also asked Comelec to review its policy of outsourcing election technology to foreign companies and promote instead Filipino science and technology. It also asked the poll agency to support the group's call to launch the search and development of a Filipino IT election technology that will make automation more compliant with "actual Philippine conditions" as the law requires and allow transparency and accountability come into play.

The search for Filipino election technology will be formally launched during the first national IT conference on the election to be held in June this year.

Involved in both the search and the organizing of the IT conference are AES Watch, the University of the Philippines' office of the president, De La Salle University's college of computer science, CenPEG, PCS, PhilNITS, PETEF, Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), and other IT organizations and universities.

AES Watch, which observed the May 2010 automated elections, is composed of 40 organizations including the UPAA, CBCP-Nassa, AMRSP, CenPEG, NAMFREL, Computing Society of the Philippines,, MGG, NCCP, Concerned Citizens Movement (CCM), Transparency International-Philippines, Association of Schools of Public Administration in the Philippines, and several others.

Its honorary chair is former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, Jr. Its former spokesperson and co-convener, Alfredo Pascual, is now the President of UP. Another co-convener of AES Watch, Gus Lagman, has been appointed new Comelec commissioner. Posted by CenPEG

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