POSTSCRIPT / September 3, 2013 / Tuesday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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TanDem bares pattern of ‘polls-to-pork’ abuse

TANDEM REPORT: Today we yield to research and action group Tanggulang Demokrasya which presented yesterday a comprehensive report from Election Fraud to the Pork Barrel. We give TanDem a chance to be heard over the pervasive voice of the administration’s propaganda apparatus.

Below is the summary report of TanDem’s Adolfo Paglinawan, a former diplomat, edited and condensed to fit our limited space:

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2010 POLLS QUESTIONED: Last Aug. 28, 2010, TanDem members filed a petition with the Supreme Court for the nullification of the 2010 elections for violations of the Constitution and of various statutes that rendered the exercise null and void from the very beginning.

The petitioners said the election was unconstitutional, it having been outsourced by the Commission on Elections headed by Chairman Jose Melo to Smartmatic, a foreign corporation. Under the charter, elections are to be managed by the Comelec.

They said it was criminal, because Comelec dropped minimum safeguards required by the Automated Election Systems Law, namely the UV-ray scanner that would detect fake or misplaced ballots and the Voter Verification that would confirm to a voter that the machine’s reading of his ballot coincides with the persons he voted for.

They denounced as illegal the canvassing of election returns from the PCOS machines to the municipality servers and onwards to the provincial and national levels, because it violated both the AES Law and the E-Commerce Act requiring all electronic transmissions to have digital signatures, a passcode to be inputted by the Board of Election Inspectors to certify as to the veracity of the numbers being passed on.

Their legal theory was that since these safeguards were not observed, the count that became election returns was “unofficial” — and therefore so were all proclamations arising from it.

The Comelec did not just ignore the plea, it hurriedly proclaimed winners. For one, Benigno S. Aquino III was proclaimed president-elect with five million votes over his closest opponent with about eight more million votes unaccounted for.

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PRESIDENTIAL PORK: Aquino then moved to cement his legitimacy and ensure his hold on power by using his presidential pork barrel that exceeds one trillion pesos (or some P1.5 trillion if proceeds of the Malampaya Natural Gas Project are included).

Some 1.7 percent of this amount, or around P25 billion, comprises the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) for senators and congressmen whose independence Aquino continued to undermine.

Above the PDAF, Aquino augmented congressional pork to motivate legislators to impeach former Chief Justice Renato Corona. The hurried process was marked by violations of the rules of evidence.

Repeating the same strategy, Aquino gave legislators presidential pork to ensure the passage of the Reproductive Health Law over the objection of the Catholic Church.

In the 2013 elections, the Comelec, instead of reforming the mistakes of the Melo Commission, repeated the same violations and added a few more.

Under chair Sixto Brillantes (the election lawyer of Aquino in 2010), Comelec replaced “write-once read-many” compact flash cards with rewritable ones, revised the transmission of election returns from the “ladderized” method (from the PCOS to the municipality to the provincial to the national) to one that simultaneously sends the PCOS transmission from the clustered precincts to both the municipal servers and a “Transparency” server used by the Parish Pastoral Council Responsible Voting with which it connived to reduce the reading threshold of the PCOS optical reader from 50 percent (2010 standards) to 20 percent.

Collusion with Malacañang was confirmed after the Comelec admitted that it received at least P30 million in “intelligence funds” from the presidential pork.

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POLL FRAUD: At 8 p.m. of Election Day last May and right after the closing of precincts, the Transparency Server registered 12 million votes for Grace Poe, with only 1,410 PCOS machines having transmitted. That was 23-percent output for less than 2-percent input.

The simultaneous transmission of results to both the municipal and Transparency servers presupposed that the inputs would be on a random first-in first-out basis, but the Comelec report belied this. The results from the first to the 16th canvass showed election returns canvassed had been grouped and “filtered” by an intermediary terminal.

A 60-30-10 pattern ruled the senatorial canvass on the national level, with each of 16 chosen candidates receiving a constant pre-programmed share at every stage of the canvass. The pattern is statistically improbable.

Until today, 18,000 PCOS machines have not transmitted results. So where did the Comelec get its concluding figures?

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NAPOLES ROLE: Weeks ago, the nation was stunned by revelations by the Commission on Audit and the Department of Justice that businesswoman Janet Lim Napoles had served as the clearing house of the presidential pork used in Congress.

Her operation was exposed as early as 2004 in the handling of billions in agriculture funds. She was named by whistleblower Marlene Esperat, exposing an alleged conspiracy being run by First Gentleman Mike Arroyo and Agriculture Undersecretary JocJoc Bolante. (Esperat was later killed.)

Recent revelations seem to confirm that Napoles’ operations grew under the present administration. The seat of operations appeared to be right under the nose of Aquino – with a certain Brian Yamsuan serving as consultant for Executive Secretary Jojo Ochoa while directly taking orders from Napoles.

The abolition of all pork, not just the congressional PDAF, will happily bring about the demise of the political dynasties. Without the pork, there will no longer be incentives for scions to run for other positions not occupied by family elders.

There will be no more easy money to be stolen to finance their profligate lifestyles. Only those who are really called to public service will run for office. Those who have been elbowed out by dynastic guns, goons and gold will again be attracted to serve.

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(First published in the Philippine STAR of September 3, 2013)

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