AES WATCH Post-Election Conference Statement

Just as we are terrified at the devastation wrought by supertyphoon Yolanda in the Visayas and other regions, so do we continue to grieve over the rape of our electoral system committed in the May 2013 mid-term elections – far worse than in 2010. None can compare the tragedy of thousands of human lives gone and the unprecedented economic losses caused by Yolanda and all other disasters that struck our country this year with the way the electoral system was subverted last May. But, as well, we grieve no end over how automated elections have been compromised by the repeated non-compliance by the poll body of the election law, by an unreliable technology marketed by an equally unreliable and rapacious foreign company (Smartmatic), by the persistence of widespread cheating in its traditional – and today “modern” – form.

We are even more appalled by the wall of indifference erected by many Congress leaders including those from the Joint Congressional Advisory Committee (JCOC) against public demands to – as mandated on this oversight committee – assess the poll automation, legislate to repair the system, and heed the clamor for electoral reform. To them we say: Enough is enough, do your work!
Last March or two months before the mid-term elections, the AES Watch through its System Trustworthiness, Accuracy, and Reliability (STAR) Card, rated the Comelec’s poll automation project as not only ill prepared but a “failure” – by legal and technological standards. The rating was validated by how the mid-term automated elections went such as, among others: the non-compliance by the poll body of major safeguards, security, auditability, and other minimum requirements and basic industry standards; massive machine breakdowns and transmission failures; counting discrepancies and millions of missing votes, equivalent to a significant disenfranchisement of voters; a biased and incredible random manual audit; and the premature proclamation of winners based on “projected results.”

The telltale signs of a failed second automated election which we first cited on May 18 have even been more confirmed by months of further research and investigation by AES Watch beginning with the unexplained 12M vote surge only a few hours after polls closed, and by major events that unfolded thereafter. What we disclose in today’s post-election conference is disturbing – and foretells a political disaster in 2016 and future elections – just as we propose urgent and constructive reforms so that we will not be haunted by past albeit deliberate mistakes and violations by poll managers and technology supplier. Our research and investigations reveal: 

  • A huge discrepancy of 59M votes between the Comelec list of winning senatorial candidates (June 5, 2013) and the Comelec public access website (May 17, 2013);
  • Attempts to cover up the election blunders and anomalies through post-election excess ballot printing and the killing of two reporters-whistleblowers;
  • The existence of a suspicious 60-30-10 final share of canvassed votes among the PNoy Team, UNA, and all other candidates – true at all levels of the canvassed votes from the clustered precincts to municipalities/cities, provinces, regions, and the national canvass. The 60-30-10 results remain questionable and disturbing more so given that there has been no conclusive review of the missing voting source code, no credible RMA of the election, and because of the disabling by Comelec and Smartmatic of the various safeguards and accuracy requirements as mandated.
  • Absence of a digital signature, hence, no legal basis for proclaiming “winning” candidates.
  • No public or transparent and uninterrupted counting of votes, as mandated by the Omnibus Election Code (Sec. 206, Article XVIII) as well as RA 9369. The mid-term election canvassing was marked by long interruptions and tampering of the program through “encrypting.”

In the mid-term elections, AES Watch along with other citizens’ election watchdogs, demanded a parallel manual count of votes and, after the May 13 fiasco, the opening of all ballot boxes for a recount. These were, as anticipated, ignored.

WE CHALLENGE the Comelec to disprove our findings by releasing to the public all vital election documents which we, together with other election watch groups, political parties, the Supreme Court, and even legislators have been asking since 2009 – including the real source codes, transmission and audit logs, and other data. The academic community, IT professionals and other stakeholders can only provide complete and no-nonsense studies if equipped with major and critical data disclosed by the election body as a matter of public information.

The corruption and commercialization of the election process continues with the deliberate and systematic denials of critical documents and information by an election body that is beholden to the powers that be and chaired by an election lawyer who – at one time in his professional career counseled the Ampatuans of the infamous Maguindanao massacre – and now takes pride in maligning vocal citizens groups and stifling legitimate dissent by all means such as the use of presidential pork to conduct surveillance of election critics. 

Comelec should first be held accountable for the major violations of law before it is able to take the path to genuine reforms now before the next elections. No reform can be possible without dealing with the culture of impunity that mocks the electoral process.

Unless all the problems of accuracy, transparency, and credibility of the voting and counting system are addressed, the results of the automated elections will remain to be contested and the proclaimed candidates will continue to hold office under a shadow of illegitimacy.

As we first stated in October 2010, the Smartmatic PCOS should be junked now! The Filipino IT community and other citizens’ election stakeholders should be involved in designing a new election system compliant with IT standards and best practices, with the right of suffrage, and with the demands of transparency, reliability, and auditability. The right to vote should never be compromised to favor a privatized, unreliable, and unsecured election system.

AES Watch conveners ask SC for Writ of Habeas Data vs Comelec

Today, 14 conveners and members of the Automated Election System Watch (AES Watch) petitioned the Supreme Court (SC) to issue a Writ of Habeas Data against Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes, Jr. and six other commissioners of the Comelec.

The Writ petitioners, among them former Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman and Comelec whistleblower Atty. Melchor Magdamo, asked the SC to compel the Comelec to cease and desist from placing AES Watch member-organizations under surveillance using a P30M intelligence fund. They also asked the high court to direct the respondents to disclose to the court and petitioners and, subsequently, to destroy whatever intelligence information had been intentionally gathered against AES Watch members and other election watchdogs.

Magdamo, former Comelec lawyer, exposed 2013 election scams and unconscionable expenses in the bidding of the unbundled items on warehousing, delivery, ballot printing, paper ballots, etc. In 2010, he successfully proved the multi-million overpricing of the secrecy folders used in the 2010 poll automation that caused the suspension of Comelec project director Jose Tolentino, Jr.  Lagman, Comelec’s only IT commissioner, was not reappointed for being critical of the Smartmatic-provided poll automation. Continue reading

AES Watch conveners ask Ombudsman to probe Brillantes, Smartmatic; Refund payments, Smartmatic asked

AES Watch

The Automated Election System Watch (AES Watch) today asked President Aquino III to compel the Smartmatic company to refund the money given it due to the failure of some 18,000 PCOS machines to transmit election results, dysfunctional CF cards, and other glitches that transpired during the May 13 mid-term elections.

The amount paid by the government for the questionable purchase of the PCOS machines in March 2012 for at least 23% of the machines that failed to transmit should be refunded. This is on top of costs by machines that broke down, faulty CF cards and modems, and other system failures, AES Watch said. Continue reading

PCOS machine: Is it a boon or bane to free and honest polls?

This was sent via e-mail to AES Watch by a concerned citizen in N. Cotabato

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Two days after the elections, the people of North Cotabato could not still seemingly understand the results of the recent polls.

The results do not seem to speak of the huge crowds which filled our rallies who came not because of money or rice and who stood in the rain with empty stomachs.

I believe that if a person could withstand hunger for four hours just to see and listen to their political leader, it is most likely that he will be able to withstand the temptation of rice and money.

The best example of this controversy is the town of Pigcawayan where an estimated 14,000 attended last big rally of gubernatorial bet Manny Piñol and displayed so much emotion during his speech that we believe at least 90 per cent of the crowd wanted him back as their Governor.

When the votes were counted, Piñol lost by almost 2,000 votes in a town where he have never lost an election since he entered politics.

Indeed, money and rice flowed but I estimated that these would have only swayed a certain percentage of the voters.

The next target of suspicion would be the PCOS machines.

My IT Team which handled made the following observations during the election:

1. A huge number of PCOS machines did not work. In the town of Makilala alone, 12 PCOS machines out of the 61 units assigned there did not work. That is roughly 20% of the PCOS machines which conked out prompting the BEIs to hold a manual voting.

2. In the town of Pikit, armed groups led by the barangay chairmen who were promised money just to defeat gubernatorial candidate Piñol, tampered with the PCOS machines cutting off the plastic seals protecting the CF Cards and inserted new CF cards. Witnesses said the results were different from the actual votes of the people in many villages.

3. My IT Group and other IT experts are now looking at the difference between the actual results of the elections based on the ERs retrieved by the watchers and the transmitted results. In one barangay for example, the transmitted results showed over 900 votes cast when the actual number of voters in the precinct was only over 600.

4. We are also looking into the earlier reports that there are 6,000 missing PCOS machines and these could have been used in pre-loading CF cards which could have been used in transmitting doctored results to the PBOC.

We will also use the results of our post election analysis in the advocacy that we are going to wage which is to STOP the use of the PCOS machines in Philippine elections and to find better ways of determining the will of the people.

Are you spying on us? AES Watch asks Brillantes

The Automated Election System Watch (AES Watch) today dared Chairman Sixto Brillantes, Jr., of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to clarify that its P30M counter-intelligence fund (CIF) was not intended to spy on IT groups and election watchdogs critical of the Comelec-purchased Smartmatic PCOS technology and the way the automated mid-term elections were conducted.

The citizens’ watchdog issued the demand even as it asked Comelec along with the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on AES to secure all PCOS machines, CCS software, ballot boxes, and other election paraphernalia needed for auditing the now-tainted mid-term election system and subjecting it to forensics scrutiny. Continue reading

Disturbing Discrepancies in Precint Election Results

AES Watch

Precinct results downloaded from the Comelec public access website, http://2013electionresults.comelec.gov.ph/, differ from the same precinct results downloaded on another day/time, in significant ways. Take the example of these five precinct results from BAROBO, SURIGAO DEL SUR, downloaded on two different days, the first on May 19, the second on May 23. Directory listings of the two directories give the picture shown. The five precinct results have increased in file size! This should not happen, even for dynamically generated pages, unless there are changes in page contents. I’m studying these cases further, and will give a more detailed report.

This was first posted by Dr. Pablo Manalastas on Facebook.

AES Watch calls for Brillantes resignation

Probe Comelec irregularities and non-compliance of the Poll Automation Law

2013 electionsFollowing repeated threats of Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes to sue and expose leaders of the election watchdog, Automated Elelction System Watch as acting in “conspiracy” to sow public distrust on the election, members and conveners of AES Watch today called for the immediate resignation of former election lawyer, Sixto Brillantes, Jr., from his post as chairman of the Commission on Elections (Comelec).

Brillantes had earlier accused the watchdog of “election sabotage.”  Last week, the poll chief threatened to sue his critics, but withdrew the same threat the other day.

“Coming from the head of a constitutional and powerful body, his threats send a chilling effect not only on AES Watch members but other election watch groups, political parties, candidates, and other stakeholders,” the group said.

The forty-plus coalition of citizens’ organizations composed of academics, IT experts and professionals, policy study analysts, faith-based groups, grassroots organizations, poll watchdogs, good governance advocates and legal groups speaking through its spokesperson, former Philippine Computer Society president, Nelson Celis said, “Chairman Brillantes should make true his threat to sue instead of harassing us with dangerous labels, so that truth will out.” Continue reading