Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2013-03-26

We have to hear the considered opinion of the experts when it comes to elections and there are few who can claim to be more qualified to shed light than my neighbor, election lawyer Romy Macalintal. Let me share with you what Romy stated with regards all these recent attempts to taint the performance of the PCOS machine in the 2010 elections as well as the 2013 elections.

“Until and unless the critics of PCOS machines could prove that from the more than 35 million ballots cast and fed in the PCOS machines in the 2010 elections, at least ten ballots cast for a particularly candidate were erroneously or deliberately credited by the PCOS machines to another candidate in the said election, then they should stop and refrain from making wild speculations that the 2013 elections will be marred with “inaccurate vote count” or may cause “failure of elections.

“The Comelec (Commission on Elections) had already spoken and gave full guarantee that “the PCOS machines cannot be manipulated nor can anyone maneuver them” and that all “glitches” experienced in the 2010 polls had already been corrected. If we cannot believe the Comelec, then who else can we trust with our electoral processes?

“Under Comelec Resolution No. 9640 dated February 15, 2013 which governs the Board of Election Inspectors’ (BEIs) guidelines on the testing and sealing; voting, counting and transmission of results, these boards are mandated to test and seal the PCOS machines in their assigned precincts at least seven (7) days before May 13 with notice to candidates and all political parties not later than May 1. This could be the most opportune time for critics of PCOS to observe the machines’ operation or performance and there and then make an honest to goodness evaluation of their effectiveness and accuracy.

“The Supreme Court taught us the lesson that the Comelec, being the constitutional body mandated to enforce election laws, ‘should be permitted to discharge its constitutional role without obstruction or molestation’ and should be accorded ‘the greatest measure of presumption of regularity to its course of action to the end that it may achieve its designed place in the democratic fiber of our government.’

“The Automated Election System (AES) Watch was merely speculating when it alleged ‘a possible failure of election’ in 2013 due to alleged defective Smartmatic in the 2010 elections alleging that there was ‘naccuracy of the vote count’ and absence of a ‘digitally signed’ election returns.

“For sure, the AES Watch is, and should be, aware that not a single election protest involving the 2010 elections succeeded at the Comelec precisely because the results of the physical count of the ballots (made during the revision and recount stage of the protest) tallied with the results transmitted by the PCOS machines to the various canvassing boards as in-stored in their respective Compact Flash (CF) cards.

“The absence of the ‘digital signatures’ of the election returns and the certificate of canvass is not likewise material in determining the accuracy of the count of the ballots. These are merely ‘formal defects’ which, as decided by the Supreme Court in various cases, will not affect the results of the election as they are purely ministerial and technical, by no means mandatory but a mere antecedent measure intended to authenticate the ballot. A contrary ruling would place a premium on official ineptness and make it possible to a small group of functionaries, by their negligence — or worse, their deliberate inaction — to frustrate the will of the electorate.”

Romy further confided to me: “I really cannot join the PCOS critics because their oppositions are merely on technical grounds, which, as I said in my statement, do not affect the accuracy of the vote count generated from these PCOS machines. The results of the 2010 polls could have been the basis of any complaint regarding the accuracy of the count made by the PCOS machines.”

Romy added: “The problem with the IT experts is that they have been harping on the alleged possibility that the PCOS could be ‘hacked’ or ‘tampered with’ — but until now they have not proven that the PCOS was hacked or tampered with. Precisely I said that I will only believe their cause if these IT experts could show me EVEN ONE ballot cast for a particular candidate in the 2010 polls which was counted or credited by the PCOS machines for another candidate. I say there is none — and this is the reason why not a single election protest — out of the hundreds of election protest filed with the courts and the Comelec — has ever prospered because when the ballots were physically recounted during the revision stage of these protest cases, the results of the physical count tallied with the results reflected on the election returns as transmitted by the PCOS from the precinct level to the boards of canvassers.”

We have to agree with Romy Macalintal’s assessment because the 2010 elections were just about the cleanest and fastest election we’ve ever had. Let’s not allow people with a sinister political agenda to mislead us into returning to the old manual system. Let’s keep and just improve the good thing that we have — automated polls.

* * *

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

[Click here for the Archive]

Home | As I Wreck This Chair | High Ground | Career Brief and Roots | Advocacies | Landmarks Copyright 2006 The Chair Wrecker by William M. Esposo