Kontra Daya 2010 launched, urges more tests
to allay fears on automated polls
Posted on 17 February 2010
Advocates of credible and fraud-free elections today launched the Kontra
Daya 2010 campaign alliance in Intramuros, Manila and urged poll officials
to conduct more field tests and mock polls to allay persistent doubts
about the automated election system (AES).
Despite repeated assurances from the Commission on Elections (Comelec),
convenors of Kontra Daya still feel that the poll body has yet to fully
convince the public, including even the presidentiables that its
automation project will run flawlessly on May 10.
Kontra Daya is a campaign composed of religious, teachers, IT people,
students, activists and concerned citizens.
Attempts to stay in power
“The Comelec dismisses our concerns as ‘fear of the unknown’ but our fears
are based on what we already know this administration can do. We have seen
it in 2004 and in 2007. The Arroyo government has every motive to rig the
elections so it can stay in power. The single biggest fear now is the
possibility of a failure of elections which will surely benefit the
administration,” former Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop and Kontra Daya
convenor Oscar Cruz said.
On Monday, Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal said that “the fear of
not knowing is what’s prevalent now” in reaction to apprehensions raised
by six presidential candidates about massive fraud and possible failure of
Archbishop Cruz said that Filipinos must be extra vigilant not only
because it is the first ever nationwide automated polls but also due to
the continuing attempts of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to stay in
Another mock polls
“We could not just rely on what the Comelec says. They have to show that
their automation can ensure the integrity of the polls. But so far, their
field tests and mock polls have only further stoked our fears. One way to
erase these fears is to keep on testing the reliability of the machines,
the voting procedures, the transmission system, counting of ballots, etc.
until all possible glitches that may occur during the actual elections
have been addressed. Another mock elections may be necessary, one that has
a wider participation and greater coverage nationwide,” said Fr. Joe Dizon
of Solidarity Philippines and one of Kontra Daya’s convenors.
Kontra Daya said that the field tests and mock elections repeatedly showed
the rejection of ballots and the absence of any clear guidelines on what
the Board of Election Inspectors will do in such an event. The group also
called attention to the continuing problems with the transmission of
results experienced even in urban areas.
Fr. Dizon added that far-flung areas of the country which are not accessed
by electricity, cell phone signals, and road transport are ideal sites to
test the dependability of Comelec’s precinct count optical scan (PCOS)
machines and the whole automation system.
Another Kontra Daya convenor, Grace Poe, daughter of the late actor and
2004 opposition presidential bet Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ), added that the
country should be watchful of a possible “automated Garci”.
“Let us not allow a repeat of what happened to FPJ. Yes, they are
automating the elections. But the people behind the massive fraud that
robbed the country of its vote six years ago are still there. These are
the same people who will oversee the computerized voting and canvassing.
We could not just sit back and let electronic cheating simply replace
manual cheating,” Poe said.
President Arroyo has been accused of calling up Comelec Commissioner
Virgilio Garcillano or “Garci” to influence the results of her 2004
presidential battle against FPJ.
Writer and actress Bibeth Orteza, spokesperson of the Pagbabago! People’s
Movement for Change, pointed out that aside from cheating, the people must
also keep watch on other maneuverings by the Arroyo administration to
hijack the 2010 elections.
“The signals that President Arroyo will do everything to prolong her stay
in power or at least remain an influential politician after the elections
are very clear. From unseating opposition governors, fielding pseudo-partylist
groups and most loyal Cabinet officials and allies to run for Congress,
appointing the chiefs of the Supreme Court and military, etc., it’s
obvious that she is not leaving her political fate to chance,” Orteza,
also a Kontra Daya convenor, said.
Uncertainties in the AES
Meanwhile, with less than 12 weeks to go before the May 10 polls,
outstanding issues related to the Comelec’s AES have yet to be addressed.
“There is a whole range of issue as to the safeguards of the automated
polls which can prevent systematic election fraud either through internal
rigging or external hacking. There are outstanding issues such as the
source code review of the software that will be used, the infrastructure
for the safe transmission of data as well as the readiness of Comelec
personnel and the voting public for automated polls,” UP professor Dr.
Giovanni Tapang said.
Dr. Tapang, chairperson of the scientists’ group AGHAM and also a Kontra
Daya convenor, noted as well that in case manual polls were done in some
regions, the country must prepare for the same old-school fraud operations
that will undermine the elections.
Kontra Daya’s role
“With the long history of fraud and manipulation involving the Comelec and
other government agencies to favor the incumbent regime, the concerns
about the automated elections are serious and require action. We have to
be ready to mobilize in huge numbers, should there be a failure of
elections. We cannot let Mrs. Arroyo take advantage of that situation to
perpetuate herself in power,” Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary
General Renato Reyes, Jr. said.
Kontra Daya as an independent election watchdog will field teams of
volunteers nationwide and will encourage the widest possible public
participation in monitoring the conduct of the automated polls.
An online monitoring center has been set up through www.kontradaya.org
where people can view results of the mock elections and other concerns.
The public can also send reports through email@example.com . ###
Go to Kontra Daya website:
Letter to the Comelec raising urgent concerns
Posted on 17 February 2010
HON. JOSE MELO
Commission on Elections
Warm greetings of Peace,
We from the Kontra Daya campaign are writing you to express our urgent and
serious concern over developments in the automated elections system. We
would like to inform you of some of our observations as well as
recommendations relevant to the problems mentioned.
We hope the Comelec can look into these issues as there are continuing
fears of fraud and failure of elections.
1. In the January 27 Joint Congressional Oversight Committee hearing, the
Comelec said that it could complete the testing of the machines in 45 days
if there are 300 people working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Comelec
also admitted that it has yet to hire all the technicians who will carry
out the test. We would like to get an update on this matter which we
believe is crucial for the machines to function effectively on election
2. In the field tests and mock elections, the common problems have been
that ballots were rejected (for various reasons) and that there are
difficulties in transmission of results in some areas.
We noted that in the January 29 field test, four seemingly valid test
ballots were rejected by the machine. We would like to know the technical
report on this case if there has been any. In the same field test, we also
noted that three SIM cards were used at the Aguho Elementary School yet
transmission still failed. This happened in a school in Metro Manila,
where cellphone signal is supposedly stable. We would like to know the
preparedness of the Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM in situations where there
would be transmission failures via GPRS in urban areas. We know that not
all precincts will have a back-up BGAN device should transmission via GPRS
fails. We would like to know if the survey of signal strength has indeed
been completed. We also would want to know when the Comelec will announce
which areas will be subjected to manual elections because of problems with
In the February 6 mock elections we noted that there were instances were
ballots were rejected. We were informed that for one ballot that was
rejected at the New Era elementary school, the reason given was that there
were ambiguous marks. However, the Comelec and Smartmatic officials
refused to let us examine the four other ballots that were rejected by the
machine. This of course runs counter to the principle of transparency.
Furthermore, there are still no clear guidelines on what happens to voters
if their ballots are rejected by the machine. Will they be given a chance
to correct the ambiguous marks? Or will they lose the chance to vote?
Also, how many rejected ballots will have to be recorded before the
machine is replaced? Are ambiguous marks the only consideration for voters
to be allowed to re-fill their ballots?
3. Our experience in Quezon City and Taguig during the mock elections
shows that there may not be enough time for the 1,000 registered voters
per precinct to vote.
The average time it took the mock voters in New Era Elementary School to
vote was 5-6 minutes. That’s inclusive of the fact that they weren’t
looking for their names in the voters list (they went straight to the
polling center) and they weren’t looking for the names of real candidates
in the mock ballot. If 50 voters need 110 minutes to vote, that would mean
36 hours for 1,000 people to vote.
Even at the rate of 1 hour for 50 voters, that would still require 20
hours for 1,000 people to vote. If we have a 75% voter turnout, that would
still require some 15 hours for 750 people to vote.
4. Another round of mock elections is recommended, this time with the
necessary guidelines on rejected ballots in place. The next mock elections
should simulate actual election day conditions, including having people go
through the process of checking their names in the voters list of the
precinct. We would want to see mock elections that will employ a broad
cross-section of society who have different levels of understanding of the
automation process (some mock polls relied mainly on teachers as
participants). There must be more participants in the exercises and there
must be more regions and polling places covered by the mock polls. The
Comelec should be able to continuously hold these mock elections so that
more and more people can be educated on the process and for watchdog
groups to be able to test the vulnerabilities of the system.
Comelec must also bare its contingency plans for manual elections which
are likely to take place in as much as 30% of the precincts. It must set a
date when it will announce which areas are going manual. This should be
done sooner than later.
We hope the Commission can take note of these observations and
recommendations. The biggest fear of people right now, candidates
included, is that the automated election system is vulnerable to rigging
or that there may be failure of elections if all does not go well.
The Comelec must adopt a self-critical outlook so that the problems and
vulnerabilities can be addressed.
We hope you can give these points your utmost consideration.
For the Convenors,
ABP. OSCAR CRUZ
BP. ELMER BOLOCON
FR. JOSE DIZON
PROF. GIOVANNI TAPANG
RENATO REYES, JR.
ATTY. HARRY ROQUE