By Leila B. Salaverria
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:40:00 04/16/2010
MANILA, Philippines—In the automated elections on May 10, the mindset is that the winners would be known in a jiffy.
Well, not exactly.
Results will be posted pronto in real time as they are spewed out by a computing machine on a website, to be announced later, but these will be from each one of the 76,000 precincts nationwide.
You’ll have to do the addition yourself to know what’s up.
After saying again and again that the results of the automated election system (AES)—meaning contest outcomes—will be known within 48 hours, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Thursday said for the first time that in fact this was unlikely to happen.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez, speaking at a forum of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (Focap), said the poll body was not required to add up the results of the precinct voting or to provide a running tally on the website.
“We’ll provide the precinct data. That’s more than we’ve ever done before,” Jimenez said.
It doesn’t compute
Alfredo Pascual, convenor of AES Watch, said that the data from the individual precincts, without any summation, would not be of much use considering the sheer number of candidates.
“Try adding that up,” said Pascual. “That doesn’t mean anything.”
He also pointed out the possibility that around 30 percent of the counting machines might encounter glitches, as the Comelec itself has confirmed. In which case, he said, a manual count would have to be done.
In addition, Pascual said that before the proclamation of winners, a “random manual audit” would be undertaken by the board of election inspectors.
This means that in each legislative district, one precinct will be selected and the results there will be manually tabulated, totaled and compared with the automated count to check its accuracy.
Mechanics of this exercise have yet to be hammered out with barely three weeks before election day.
Cesar Flores, spokesperson for Smartmatic-TIM, said the company, as part of its P7.2-billion contract with the Comelec, will make available the website where the results from the precincts will be posted as they come in.
Website for precinct results
Flores, in an interview with the Inquirer, said the website will be announced a few days before the elections.
On the website for the 2008 Venezuelan elections, the company showed consolidated results, Flores said, but the Comelec had refused to put consolidated results on its website to discourage trending while the proclamation of national winners is pending.
The Comelec, he said, does not want to be accused of overstepping the duties of the Congress, which counts and proclaims the winners of the presidential and vice presidential races.
Jimenez said that the Comelec would announce the results of its tally after the canvassing at the municipal and provincial levels are completed, which is expected to be about two to three days after the elections. But the Comelec is only authorized to proclaim the winners up to the senatorial level, he said.
The proclamation of the president and vice president would have to be done by Congress, which is tasked with canvassing the results and which would only convene on May 30.
At the moment, Jimenez said, the poll body’s plan is to just post the precinct results on the website, whose name would only be disclosed on the eve of the elections for security purposes.
The data on the website will play an important part, he said, because it provides transparency and helps in fact-checking.
When asked why the poll body would not sum up the results, Jimenez said the Comelec was not required to do so. “As far as transparency is concerned, all of the data is there.”
He also said that if the results of the summation would be included on website, there would have to be a canvassing program included on it. This would be an additional burden for the site, he added.
The absence of an official summation of the election results on the website raised concerns that those who would be counting the votes based on the website data might come up with different figures and create confusion.
Henrietta de Villa, chair of the Comelec’s citizens arm Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), said her group and the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) would meet to discuss the possibility of conducting a joint tally of the election results.
De Villa also said that with the election data made available to the public at once, the holding of parallel counts had been “democratized.”
“Everyone can do the count,” she said in the same Focap forum, adding that the PPCRV itself would be conducting an internal parallel count. With a report from Kristine L. Alave
As the Supreme Court releases its decision on the airing of the ‘Hello Garci’ tapes today, results of the latest IBON nationwide survey show that an increasing number of Filipinos believe that cheated in the 2004 national elections.
The IBON January 2008 survey showed that 79% of 1,503 respondents believed that there were truth to allegations that the chief executive engaged in corruption and cheating in the 2004 elections, from 64.2% in the January 2007 survey round and 74.2% in October 2007.
The January 2008 IBON survey was conducted nationwide from January 7 to 14 with a total of 1,503 respondents. It has a margin of error of plus or minus three percent. (end)
Below is the tabulation of results of the respondents’ perception of the allegation that the President was engaged in corruption and cheating in the 2004 elections.
In your opinion, is there truth to the allegation that PGMA engaged in corruption and cheating in the 2004 elections?
Yes, there is truth to it
Yes, but only with regard to the corruption issue
Yes, but only with regard to the issue of cheating in the election
There is no truth to it
BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — The country’s student governments want the abolition of the “non-performing” Sangguniang Kabataan (SK or youth councils), now that Congress has begun deliberations on the fate of the barangay (village) and SK elections scheduled next month.
In a September 5 manifesto issued on Tuesday at the close of the National Leadership Training for Student Government Officers at Teachers Camp here, the student leaders said they would launch a letter-writing campaign to draw attention to their appeal.
Joey Pelaez, executive director of the Department of Education’s (DepEd) Center for Students and Co-Curricular Affairs, said government must ensure that all youth go to school, a mandatory state service SK officers discard in exchange for salaries and perks offered by weekly city, municipal and provincial council sessions.
Benralph Yu, president of the Region XI Federation of Student Governments, said they do not want the October elections to push through at all to enable government to reallocate the money meant for the polls to augment the budget for public education.
This was not the first appeal for SK abolition, the students said. But their teachers said this was the first position on the SK coming from DepEd.
Yu said student councils are better equipped to represent the country’s youth than the SK, a carryover from the Kabataang Barangay (KB or village youth) of the martial law period.
Student leaders said the student councils could begin community work to make up for the vacuum created by the SK’s abolition.
The manifesto, signed by 6,000 high school students and teachers, said the SK elections have “initiated our young early into the ways of traditional politics because of the dirty tricks, vote-buying, kidnap-for-votes or kidnap-not-vote tactics and mudslinging employed by their relatives and parents, who are themselves politicians, and their political patrons.”
But Yu said the student governments have not compiled evidence to prove that the SK has become corrupt.
“The SK has lost the bases of its existence with its miserable performance or non-performance to pursue its mandate for 15 years to develop the youth for service, patriotism and leadership, increase their social consciousness and enhance their participation in nation-building,” the manifesto said.
“The programs and projects being implemented by the SK are too insignificant if not utterly irrelevant, consisting mostly of construction of waiting sheds and signposts that conspicuously bear and perpetuate the SK officials’ names, and wasting precious resources that could have funded more important and urgent concerns such as public education.”
MANILA, Philippines — Smart Communications Inc. Wednesday insisted it lacked the technology to eavesdrop on phone calls, rebutting a former Army sergeant who claimed to have recorded the “Hello Garci” tapes with the connivance of tech-savvy “contacts” within the company.
Smart, the cellular service provider of Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co., doesn’t have the “highly restricted equipment” needed to conduct even a court-sanctioned wiretapping operation, according to Smart corporate communications chief Ramon Isberto.
Isberto issued a denial shortly after retired T/Sgt. Vidal Doble, who used to be with the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP), told reporters that ISAFP had “somebody from Smart” to help spy on both administration and opposition personalities in the 2004 elections.
In a clandestine press conference in Makati City, Doble said ISAFP recruited “technical people” from Smart who had access to the network’s mainframe. He doubted, however, whether the company’s top executives knew of the operation.
Doble faced reporters a day after Sen. Panfilo Lacson, in a privilege speech, presented a video recording of Doble admitting that he and fellow ISAFP operatives tapped the phone conversations of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former Election Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano.
Lacson then said it would only take the cooperation of a service provider to help ISAFP with phone surveillance. He did not identify the service provider.
“This issue first came out two to three years ago, when the Garci scandal broke out. We have said then and we are saying again now (that) the company has not participated in any efforts to eavesdrop or monitor conversations,” Isberto said in a phone interview.
“Even if so ordered (by the court), we simply do not have the technical capability to do it. Eavesdropping on a conversation is no simple matter, even if it seems so when we read about it,” he said.
“Special equipment is needed for it and we do not have that. Not just anybody can get that because it is highly restricted equipment (and) presumably very expensive. Whoever did the eavesdropping had access to such equipment, but not us,” Isberto added.
The import or export of such equipment is strictly regulated worldwide, he said.
Isberto said the company had not been invited to any Senate inquiry on the “Hello Garci” tapes.
He deferred comment when asked whether Smart had initiated an internal investigation on the alleged ISAFP “recruits” in the company.
Isberto said that to be able to split a phone signal from Smart’s main control room, the supposed ISAFP asset would have to use a decoder to sort out specific phone calls crisscrossing the system, which handles more than 24 million subscribers.
He dismissed as “highly speculative” Doble’s claims that ISAFP had managed to recruit Smart insiders.
“We have very tight controls on our operations, any breach of our security would have triggered an alarm.”
Isberto also said he was not familiar with the method described by Lacson as to how the ISAFP had purportedly “split,” rerouted to Doble’s phone (a Nokia 3600), and digitally recorded the signal capturing the conversation between Ms Arroyo and Garcillano.
“I don’t know if splitting the signal is even possible,” he said.
“We couldn’t do it even if we wanted to,” Isberto said in a separate interview. “Up to now, I cannot understand how we were supposed to have played a role in the wiretapping.”
The National Telecommunications Commission also declined to comment on the matter, saying the service providers are the ones who have the network expertise to say whether wiretapping is possible.
MANILA, Philippines — Former T/Sgt. Vidal Doble Wednesday jumped the gun on the Senate’s plan to reopen the “Hello Garci” wiretap inquiry.
Doble named Smart Communications Inc. as the telephone company allegedly used by military intelligence in 2004 to listen in on the conversations of targets like former Commission on Elections Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano.
“I don’t think the top executive of Smart knows about the operation,” he said.
Was Garcillano using a Smart number? “Yes,” Doble said.
Were all the numbers given to them to listen to all of Smart subscribers?
“Yes,” he added.
Doble, an agent of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) who provided the opposition in 2005 with the “master files” of the controversial tracks, said his mother unit had a contact inside the telecommunications firm.
He claimed the ISAFP mole made the splitting of conversation signals possible from Smart’s network structure — one signal going to the subject subscriber and the person he or she was talking with, and the other signal going to ISAFP’s Nokia 3600 listening device.
“Definitely, there was somebody from Smart who was involved in the operation,” Doble told reporters in an undisclosed venue in Makati City.
Smart denied it had conducted any such activity.
The “Hello Garci” tapes are alleged recordings of phone conversations between President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Garcillano which the opposition claims proved they connived to tamper with the results of the 2004 presidential election.
Despite Ms Arroyo’s and Garcillano’s denials, the issue has refused to die and continues to hover like an ominous cloud over the Arroyo presidency.
Doble said his superiors in the ISAFP’s Military Intelligence Group 21 at that time — Col. Paul Sumayo and Capt. Frederick Windell Rebong — gave MIG 21 members a set of mobile numbers to “monitor,” using a wiretap system involving a cell phone, its memory chip and a computer.
According to Doble, the ISAFP only targets members of the telco staff with technical know-how and with access to the “mainframe.”
“We have what we call spotting. We look for who we can recruit, we look for his weakness and then we use that weakness to make him work for us,” Doble said.
Doble said it was Rebong who coordinated with the ISAFP contact in the mobile communication service provider. The captain has since gone on military schooling abroad.
“We only target technical people. They do not have to be from the top (management) positions,” the former sergeant said.
Top AFP officers know
Doble said it wasn’t so in the intelligence service. The top officers must have known about MIG 21’s wiretapping operations.
“The only ones who talked to us were Colonel Sumayo and Captain Rebong,” he said. “But definitely, the other generals must know what we were doing, from (Vice Adm.) Tirso Danga, the J-2 [operations chief], down to (then) ISAFP chief Marlou Quevedo and the then chief of intelligence operations Col. Allen Capuya.”
Doble added that the officers would know who authorized the wiretap operation, called “Project Lighthouse,” and why.
“We were not told why we would do the operation. We were just given a set of numbers and were told to look after the conversations,” he said.
When Arroyo called
Doble said he was not the one who wiretapped Garcillano.
“I was just ordered to stand guard and listen in,” he said.
He said his job entailed listening in, transcribing the conversations, and recording them in a logbook.
Doble said MIG 21 agents were divided into four groups to do round-the-clock monitoring of the cell phones whose numbers they were given.
He said that when he and the members of his team heard Ms Arroyo call Garcillano and talk about the counting of votes, they alerted their superiors.
’Mother of all tapes’
“Captain Rebong asked that a duplicate copy be made. He said they would already be the ones to handle it,” Doble said.
Doble said the original recordings — the “mother of all tapes” — should still be with the ISAFP.
“That is, if it has not yet been destroyed,” he said.
The original recordings, Doble said, were on cassette and contained the unedited recordings of Ms Arroyo’s and Garcillano’s conversations.
“We were monitoring Garci’s phone. We only got to hear the President when she called up Garcillano,” Doble said.
Lacson has original copy
Doble said Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who presented to the Senate the other day Doble’s video testimony about the tapes, has a copy of the original recordings.
Doble said what he gave former National Bureau of Investigation Deputy Director Samuel Ong — who had claimed to be holding “the mother of all tapes” — were “the master files.”
He said the master files were recordings of selected conversations tagged with identifying headers.
Doble said the ISAFP could make new master files if the unedited, original recordings still existed.
‘We were appalled’
He said all the conversations between Ms Arroyo and Garcillano that he knew about were already in the master files he gave Ong.
“All of us (soldiers in MIG 21) were appalled when we heard the President talk with Garcillano,” Doble said.
“We asked ourselves, how come this was happening?”
Doble said that when a soldier was caught cheating in a written test during schooling, he was discharged from the military.
“How come the Commander in Chief was caught involved in cheating?” Doble said.
He asked for forgiveness from Bishop Teodoro Bacani who received him and Ong at the San Carlos Seminary in Makati City in June 2005 when they sought refuge when they were about to announce that they had the “mother of all the tapes.”
Family held hostage
Doble said he had to turn back because he learned that the Arroyo administration had held his family hostage.
“How could I have pulled the trigger when they were hiding behind my family?” Doble said.
He said that on June 12, 2005, Bataan Bishop Socrates Villegas arrived at the seminary in a helicopter.
“He asked me how I was. He asked me if I wanted to see my family. I said, ‘yes,’” Doble said.
Doble said Villegas accompanied him to the quarters of then Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Efren Abu.
“It was in the basement where I saw my family — my wife and two children,” Doble said.
“I was at a loss. I told my wife they should have stayed in Kidapawan,” he added.
Doble expressed doubt that Villegas was in on the conspiracy to force him to back out from his plan to present himself as the source of the wiretapped recordings.
“I think he was just requested to help by taking me to my family,” Doble said.
When he was taken into military custody, Doble said he was debriefed.
“I was dictated upon what to say,” Doble said.
He said he was told to declare that he was threatened by Ong to come out with the tape.
“The truth was the threat came from (the administration and the military leadership),” Doble said.
He said it was difficult for him to face the congressional inquiry.
“I lied when I said there was a threat from Attorney Ong,” Doble said.
“It was difficult to lie. You saw how I was at the stand,” he added referring to how he dodged questions from congressmen to keep himself from saying the Garci tapes were authentic.
Doble said the situation was different now.
He’s still not quite confident about the security of his family but he’s no longer a part of the military.
‘Tape is for real’
“I feel that I’m already free,” Doble said.
As for his family, he said he didn’t know their status. “I’ve yet to be in touch with them in a long time.”
Lacson on Tuesday said that Doble’s family was secure in an undisclosed location.