BAYAN - Southern Mindanao Region says:

Mock elections highlight Comelec's laxity and possible failure of elections

 

Davao City

 

February 6, 2010

 

 

   
   


Davao City – After witnessing the mock elections held in Davao City yesterday (February 6), the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan raises alarm on possible failure of election noting that some of the ballots were invalidated and the lack of transparency in the transmittal of the election results.

Bayan, through its machinery Kontra Daya, was among the observers of the nationwide simultaneous mock elections held in the cities of Davao, Baguio, Quezon, Taguig, and Cebu. In Davao City, some 100 voters participated in the mock elections which was held at Alejandra L. Navarro Elementary School in Barangay Lasang and Generoso Elementary School in Barangay Bago Aplaya.
 

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Photos and captions courtesy of Karlos Malnlupig
           
           

 

BAYAN
Southern Mindanao Region
Office Address: Door #2, RGU Apartment, Medical Drive, Bajada, Davao City
Contact #: (082) 224-2642 Email Ad: bayan.smr@gmail.com

Press Release
February 7, 2010

Mock election highlights Comelec’s laxity and possible failure of election, says Bayan

Davao City – After witnessing the mock elections held in Davao City yesterday (February 6), the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan raises alarm on possible failure of election noting that some of the ballots were invalidated and the lack of transparency in the transmittal of the election results.

Bayan, through its machinery Kontra Daya, was among the observers of the nationwide simultaneous mock elections held in the cities of Davao, Baguio, Quezon, Taguig, and Cebu. In Davao City, some 100 voters participated in the mock elections which was held at Alejandra L. Navarro Elementary School in Barangay Lasang and Generoso Elementary School in Barangay Bago Aplaya.

“Our presence in the mock elections was to ensure that the votes of the people will not be disenfranchised on the actual election proceedings. We may have the latest voting technology but there is not enough reason to trust the system and the Comelec itself,” John Birondo, Bayan-SMR spokesperson said.

“We were alarmed to see how the mock election has demonstrated the poll automation’s vulnerability to fail and be used for electoral fraud,” Birondo added.

Kontra Daya observed that the machines were not hundred percent functioning which caused the invalidation of 4 out of the 50 votes or 8% invalid votes cast in one precinct. "Such percentage is of high relevance when we think of more than a thousand precincts nationwide," Birondo cited.

Kontra Daya also raised the possibility of manipulations in the transmittal of the votes itself. “There was indeed a quick transmittal of the votes from the poll precincts to the canvassing. What was only shown in the canvassing center, however, was the printing of the COCs and not the details of transmitted votes. It did not assure genuine transmittal of the votes. Irregularities could happen in a minute span of transmittal," Birondo said.

Birondo added “there was no LCD projection of the canvassing process which the Comelec should have provided for a clearer viewing of the observers."

“Also worth noticing is the failure of the Comelec to implement the mock election protocols. They allowed the presence of armed police and military personnel inside the polling precincts which caused discomfort to the voters,” Birondo added.

“There was also a lapse in time management of the Comelec after the mock election started an hour late. Comelec officials were seen assisting the voters with the operation of the PCOS machine when it should be the member of the Board of Election Inspector (BEI) doing the task,” Birondo noted.

“Above all concerns, the Comelec was clear to be making assumptions of their readiness to implement the poll automation. It is clear in the mock election that the BEIs are still ill-equipped in terms of the technical knowhow. Worse, the Comelec could hardly explain the entire voting and canvassing procedures with material bases and evidences,” Birondo said.

Bayan said that it would also step-up on giving voters education.

"The 2010 election is a crucial moment for the Filipinos who are wanting for change. Should there be a failure of elections, the people are ready to hold the Arroyo government, who has been planning to perpetuate itself in power beyond 2010, accountable," Birondo said.

For reference: John Birondo, Spokesperson, BAYAN-SMR, Contact #: 09396568925
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People flocked around the PICOS machine as it prints the Initialization Report (IR) in the mock election held in Generoso Elementary School in Bago Aplaya, Davao City.

     
     

Fall in line. Randomly selected people who participated in the mock election patiently waited for their turn to experience first-hand the Automated Election System. Armed police and military personnel were seen within the polling precinct area.

     
     

Fall in line. Randomly selected people who participated in the mock election patiently waited for their turn to experience first-hand the Automated Election System. Armed police and military personnel were seen within the polling precinct area.

   
 

 

Powerful interests may be behind 5,000 cell phone jamming devices
News Release
February 2, 2010

Powerful interests may be behind 5,000 cell phone jamming devices

The umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan today warned that some very powerful interest groups may be behind the reported entry of some 5,000 cell phone jamming devices into the country as reported by the Comelec recently. A government investigation is now underway to probe the entry of these devices.

“Not many people can afford such a huge shipment of cellphone jamming devices. At $300 per piece, 5,000 pieces would amount to $1.5 million or some P69 million. That’s a huge amount of money. Who would have the means and motive to make such a procurement? Probably one who has a lot of money and would want to undertake massive cheating or push the failure of elections,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

“The Bureau of Customs and the National Telecommunications Commission should probe all possible buyers, even those coming from government. The magnitude of the procurement seem to indicate that the buyer may not simply be a private entity. The BoC and NTC must probe even government agencies who may have an interest in acquiring these devices,” he added.

Websites show that cellphone jammers are commercially available ranging from $200-$300 for handheld jammers. A professional handheld jamming device can block cellphone signals as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth transmission for up to 20 meters, or just about the area of a polling precinct.

With the threat of cellphone jammers now entering the picture, the Comelec and Smartmatic may not have enough transmission options on election day.

Comelec Director James Jimenez admitted in a voters education forum at the House of Representatives yesterday that Smartmatic has only procured 5,000 Broadband Global Area Network (BGAN) satellite devices. These will be used as an option in case transmission of election results through cell sites fails . As in one Comelec field test, failure to transmit results through GSM will mean that a satellite device will be used.

“The 5,000 BGAN devices may not be enough to thwart a massive attack on the system by cellphone jammers. It is also not clear at this point how Comelec and Smartmatic will address this serious security threat which aims to hamper the transmission of election results,” Reyes said.

“Comelec and Smartmatic will not only deal with inherently weak cell signals, but also with parties that are out to disable the transmission of election results via jamming. The dangers of fraud now loom large in the horizon,” Reyes added.

Jimenez said at the forum that Smartmatic is trying to procure additional satellite devices in time for election day. There are some 80,000 polling precincts that will use the new automated election system.

Bayan said that the Bureau of Customs may have been caught sleeping on the job if it does not know of the entry of the jamming devices, and it took Comelec to get their attention. ###

Fall in line. Randomly selected people who participated in the mock election patiently waited for their turn to experience first-hand the Automated Election System. Armed police and military personnel were seen within the polling precinct area.

 
           
     
     
           

 

With 100 days till the elections , can Comelec-Smartmatic still test and fix faulty machines?
News Release
January 30, 2010

With 100 days till the elections , can Comelec-Smartmatic still test and fix faulty machines?

This was the question raised by the umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan as it observed the field test of the Precinct Count Optical Scan machines at the Aguho Elementary School in Pateros yesterday.

The test included the scanning of ballots by the PCOS machines and the transmission of election results to the municipal canvassers and the Comelec’s central server.

“There were many defects in the machines and there were lapses in the system. The Comelec and Smartmatic people seemed ill-prepared to cope with the problems. With 100 days left till election day, we are concerned that there may not be enough time to address these crucial problems,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes, Jr.

Bayan observed the following problems from the Aguho field test:

1. The PCOS machine failed to read 4 out of 10 valid ballots, resulting in a 40% failure rate. No satisfactory and definitive explanation was available from both the Comelec and Smartmatic personnel present at the test. The ballots were NOT crumpled and appeared to be in good condition. The Comelec official present could not give an answer as to what will happen to a voter if his/her valid ballot is not read by the machine. Under the new rules, a voter cannot be given a new ballot since the number of ballots per precinct corresponds to the exact number of voters.

2. There were difficulties in internet connection both from the precinct and the municipal board of canvassers. The MBOC relied on GPRS and had to change SIM cards when it could not get a stable connection. Why did it not use the existing stable internet connection at the municipal hall? The precinct meanwhile had to try three different SIM cards and 2 modems in several attempts to transmit results. Only the transmission to the MBOC, proved successful. This was after almost two hours of trying. It appears that the Smartmatic survey on signal strength was either not thorough or was not considered by the technicians who were setting up the system. The 2-hour delay could have been avoided had they known which telco, if any, had the best signal at that area.

3. Failing to transmit data after using the 3 SIM cards, shift to satellite technology was authorized. The Smartmatic technician seemed ill-prepared to set up the Broadband Global Area Network satellite device. The transition from GPRS to BGAN din not run smoothly as the technician, not prepared to set up the BGAN, had to get instructions over the phone. The worst scene was when he was trying to get a random signal around the school grounds by holding the device above his head.

4. It took three hours to transmit data using different systems. The delay may be attributed to the lack of preparedness of the Comelec-Smartmatic officials in dealing with machine failure. Comelec though considers it a success that data was still transferred.

5. The BGAN device was the second to the last option. The Smartmatic technician said the satellite device will only be deployed in areas where signal is weak, such as far flung provinces. He was not sure if such a device will also be deployed in highly urbanized areas where cell site signals are strongest. The failed transmission was in Pateros, a part of Metro Manila.

“Problems during field tests are understandable. What is alarming is that there seems to be very little time to fix these problems. Even more alarming is the attitude displayed by Comelec and Smartmatic that everything is on track. No real contingencies have been put in place,” Reyes said.

“With these test results, you cannot blame people if they think of failure of elections in May,” he added.

Bayan also reiterated the call by watchdogs to properly test and certify the machines to avoid the problems encountered in Aguho Elementary School where four valid ballots were not read.

“Comelec needs to test some 82,000 machines. It claims it can do this in less than two months by having 300 technicians work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. As of January 27, they have only tested 72 machines and have yet to hire all 300 technicians,” Reyes said.

“Contingency plans must also be put in place now. We cannot simply rely on blind faith on these machines lest we regret it on May 10,” he added. ###
 

     
Atty Cullo of COMELEC Davao assists a voter
Sister Elsa Compuesto of PAGBABAGO Movement and Jade Zaldivar of Sunstar Davao      
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