POSTSCRIPT / April 24, 2022 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Gaping voting holes need plugging now!

With just two weeks to Election Day, we’re getting jittery thinking of the possibility that worthy candidates may actually win the popular votes at the polling precincts but lose in the computerized official tally if adequate safeguards are not adopted now.

Innovative features of election campaign rallies in the Philippines draw record crowds that include converts from opposing camps. Photo: Shutterstock

And then President Duterte has been warning too often about communist insurgents aiding red-tagged candidates and that a COVID-19 resurgence may just disturb the voting. Is a failure of election lurking in the bushes?

The Automated Election System law (RA 8436) mandates that at least three months before Election Day, parties must be able to review the Source Code of the hardware. The code is the human-readable copy of the instructions installed in the computers to function properly – or improperly.

The candidates and their followers have been campaigning in earnest. We hope all that effort, time and expense are not wasted. Meantime, let me share some of my notes if only to help assure everybody that we can still survive the 2022 elections:

* Automated Election System – Three main servers will be deployed to receive the results from the Vote Counting Machines (VCMs) in more than 100,000 precincts nationwide: (1) Transparency Server, (2) Central Server, and (3) Municipal Board of Canvassing Server. The media, the accredited Dominant Majority and Dominant Minority, and other accredited political parties and organizations will have access to the Transparency Server.

Not shown in the transmission design is the Transmission Router Server that receives the results from all the VCMs. This hidden server will be the one sending the results to the three main servers. Whoever has access to this server may be able to manipulate the results that will be seen by the public and media.

The Commission on Elections has to be forthcoming and transparent about this hidden router server and its audit logs. It must disclose its location and allow observers, if only to deter any intrusion into the system and also allow JCOC to check the audit logs after the elections.

* SD Cards – Secure Digital cards have been used to intrude into the functioning of computers and alter election results. Technicians normally carry them and may just use them improperly, sometimes in the guise of trouble-shooting. Tighter control is needed.

* Source Code – Thank gad, the Source Code review started in October 2021. Political parties, cause-oriented groups, and IT experts were invited to participate. Some of those who have been attending are from PPCRV, Aksyon Demokratiko, Partido Federal, NPC, KBL, Lakas, and NAMFREL.

 Your ‘president’ defines you

Who we elect on May 9 as president of this long-exploited nation of more than 100 million, the 13th most populous in the world, reflects on what kind of people we Filipinos are.

We posted last Thursday on Twitter: “In a summit meeting of world or regional leaders after the May elections, who among the 10 presidential candidates would you want to represent you and the Philippines? Give your Top Two choices.”

While the president’s primary job is to look after us, we want to be sure that when he deals with his foreign counterparts and speaks abroad for the people back home, he is not bogged down by baggage and then fails to project the best in him and in us.

We restate the question: Of the 10 presidential candidates on the ballot, who do you want to act and speak for you in global or regional forums?

The replies, retweets and other postings still coming in reflect the general sentiment that we want to have a president we can be proud of, so he can carry out diplomacy that best serves domestic policy.

Apparently with this in mind some 98 percent of those who answered our question said that Leni Robredo is their first or sole choice to speak for them in foreign forums. The most common reason given was that she has the best content and delivery among the 10 candidates.

Having monitored the campaign, we half-expected something like that judgment on Twitter.

Although most of the respondents said Robredo does not need an alternative (remember we asked readers to give their Top Two choices), those who did pick a second one chose Manny Pacquiao (2 mentions), Leody de Guzman (2), Ernesto Abella (1), and Ping Lacson (1).

Nobody chose Bongbong Marcos. We interpreted that to mean that thinking Filipinos have decided that it won’t be a good idea to have him deal with foreign officials as our president, or that he is not a good model of exemplary Filipinos.

One respondent sent a video clip of President Duterte in his usual no-necktie getup being ignored during cocktails in an undated official gathering abroad. The sender’s comment: “Baka parang ganito ang mangyari kung si Alamano…..” (Marcos might suffer the same cold treatment.)

The issue reduced to a simple question: Will you feel proud and confident having a President Marcos representing you and the country?

We could not resist commenting on the video, “Kawawa naman siya. Which is worse, to be ignored or mistaken for a waiter?” as we watched the clip of the cocktail sent by Enistanako @Enistanako. View it:

We won’t quote the respondents’ explanations of why they want only Robredo to speak for them in summits or forums abroad. Having seen her performance in debates, forums, and campaign rallies, her admirers sound confident she can handle it.

Come to think of it, what if we make the mistake of sending somebody who fumbles and mumbles his memorized lines, and who has not only illicit wealth but also what Duterte calls “baggage”?

(First published in the Philippine STAR of April 24, 2022)

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