POSTSCRIPT / February 10, 2013 / Sunday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Brillantes must banish fears, face poll gremlins

POLL FEARS: Is Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. afraid that if he conceded the flaws of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) system, the dam might break and wash away the integrity of the 2010 election of President Noynoy Aquino who had appointed him to the poll body?

Or are Comelec commissioners that compromised to Smartmatic, the supplier of the multibillion-peso PCOS system? Whatever is/are the reason/s, the head of the Commission on Elections, an independent constitutional body, should banish his fears.

If there were glitches as exposed in several incidents in the 2010 elections and in the mock polls the other weekend, let the nation, particularly the Comelec, face them and do something fast — as law and duty dictate.

Coverup will never work.

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MAGICAL FRAUD: Somebody asked on Twitter what “hocus-pcos,” which we cited in our Feb. 5 Postscript, meant. A play on “hocus-pocus,” the term means almost magical poll fraud. Go to: http://manilamail.com/archive/2013feb/13feb05/

There are reports on PCOS glitches dating back to 2010. One report, with the kicker “Strategic Perspective” by Rene B. Azurin, cites findings of Dr. Pablo Manalastas, Dr. Felix Muga, and Dr. Philip Truscott (of the Ateneo University’s computer science and mathematics departments).

They trawled data originally posted on the Comelec’s website after the May 10, 2010, elections (the site was taken down shortly after!) that seemed to indicate “the automated election system software used was so defective that the results reported have to be dubious.”

So others can verify what the Ateneo researchers found, they set up a mirror image of that website at <http://curry.ateneo.net/~ambo/ph2010/electionresults/>.

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MISSING INFO: Azurin wrote: “They report, for example, that 8,939 precincts have no data at all ‘indicating a possible failure of transmission of data from the precinct to Comelec.’ They also said that 371 precincts reported ‘only 10 voters or less’ even if ‘the actual number of voters is 400-1000 for each.’

“They reported that, ‘Of the 67,162 precinct election results which contain data, 25,530 precinct results have missing data in one elective position, or two or three or more.’ This was the case for Precinct #271 in Antipolo City where Dr. Manalastas voted.

“That precinct reported no election results for the vice governor, party-list, and Sangguniang Panlalawigan positions, even if Dr. Manalastas actually voted for both a vice governor and a party-list representative.

“Says Dr. Manalastas: ‘These missing data in one or more elective positions, when there are complete data for the other positions, (indicate) the presence of serious bugs in the canvassing-consolidation programs — bugs which SysTest Labs pointed out in its certification report to Comelec, which bugs the Technical Evaluation Committee and Comelec conveniently chose to ignore.”

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TWO PROGRAMS: Azurin continued: “This significant fact indicates that at least two different canvassing programs were used in the 2010 elections, one in the 41,632 precincts that had a complete set of data and another in the 25,530 precincts that had missing sets of data.

“How come there was more than one program in play? The obvious answer is that the original program that was to canvass votes and transmit the results from those 25,530 precincts was replaced by another program which, in this instance, was characterized by a peculiar set of errors or defects.

“Who made this substitution? How was it done and who were involved? What was the ultimate goal (or result) of the substitution? The complete absence of data for certain positions is an indicator of the substitution of a different program for the one in use.”

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RESULTS ALTERED?: “That substitution is evident from the fact that the new program exhibited its own unique errors, notably, the absent data fields.

“But the ultimate goal of the extensive substitution — covering 25,530 precincts — cannot have been simply to introduce a new set of errors into the system. The goal, logically, must have been to alter the election results in those precincts.

“What results were in fact altered, we cannot yet say. The only way of discovering the actual results would be to open the ballot boxes in those precincts and count the ballots manually or, alternatively, feed them into pre-tested PCOS counting machines. The results can then be compared to the results reported by the substituted software.

“That an anomaly of this magnitude could have occurred is largely attributable to the defects and weaknesses in the system software provided by Smartmatic. In the automated system it set up, the consolidating computers apparently had no “hand-shaking” protocols that would have allowed them to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate sources of election results.”

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NUNS AS SHIELD: Some nuns impress us with their propensity to shield certain endangered citizens from arresting officers armed with a court warrant.

Is such power granted by any divine or earthly authority? How does one threatened with arrest apply for the nuns’ protective embrace? If given sanctuary, will the fugitive pay some kind of donation or do penance or participate in a ritual to atone for his crimes? Btw, do the nuns break any law by interfering in the prosecution process?

These and other questions come to mind upon reading reports of nuns shielding Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada, the famous whistle-blower in the aborted ZTE national broadband network deal, from Sandiganbayan warrant servers.

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LOZADA CASE: Why does not Lozada, who claims respect for the law, simply face the warrant servers, pay the bail bond of P10,000, and go home to sleep in peace? Why the dramatic dash to hide under the skirts of the nuns?

If he has a hard time raising the money, the family of former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., who has gone to town with the Lozada exposé, may be able to help.

The arrest order, btw, has nothing to with the ZTE scandal. Lozada has been charged with allegedly violating the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act when he was president of the Philippine Forest Corp. (PhilForest), a government-controlled firm.

Lozada allegedly granted a questionable lease of a big tract of land to his brother.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 10, 2013)

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