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


Thai election commissioners jailed for four years

Here’s why Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. and other officials accountable should be wary:

Thai election commissioners jailed for four years


Thailand’s three election commissioners, seen as close allies of embattled Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, were today sentenced to four years in prison for allowing unqualified candidates to run in parliamentary elections in April.

The three commissioners were found guilty of violating election laws and abusing their powers by allowing candidates in April 2 balloting to run in different constituencies in a second round of voting on April 23. The country’s top courts later nullified the poll results, saying the elections were unconstitutional.

The conviction is a setback for Thaksin because all three commissioners are seen as his allies and their actions were widely viewed as a favour to the prime minister.
The court also revoked the commissioners’ right to vote and conduct any political activities for 10 years.

“The election commissioners carried out the elections in an unfair manner,” the court said. “They are found guilty … and the court sentences them to four years in prison.”

If the court grants them bail, the commissioners – Vasana Puemlarp, Prinya Nakchudtree and Virachai Naewboonnien – would still be allowed to carry out their responsibilities. It was not immediately known when the court would decide whether to allow bail.
Prinya said that he and his co-defendants would appeal the verdict.

“I hope the court will grant us mercy by granting us bail,” he said.
He added that they would maintain their status as commissioners, which they would lose if the Supreme Court also finds them guilty.

“We will continue to perform our duties until the last minute,” Prinya said. “I insist that we are innocent … I am appealing for public sympathy. I did not do anything wrong.”

Opposition Democrat party leader Thavorn Seniem, who filed the lawsuit against the commissioners, petitioned the court asking that the commissioners not be granted bail.

“They have reaped the consequences of what they have done … If they are allowed to stay outside prison and continue to carry out their duties, they will endlessly commit wrongdoing,” Thavorn said. “I believe that the next election will be more fair.”

Thaksin dissolved Parliament and called the April 2 elections three years ahead of schedule in an effort to defuse a growing protest movement calling for his resignation on grounds of alleged corruption and abuse of power.

His party won after the three main opposition parties boycotted the polls and millions of voters marked an abstention box on their ballots as a protest against the prime minister.

The boycott and abstentions meant that in some constituencies, winners could not be certified because they failed to attain a legal minimum share of the registered vote. The inconclusive results left Parliament unable to convene.

The Election Commission called new balloting on April 23, in a decision seen as favouring Thaksin’s Thai Rak Thai party.

The top courts annulled the inconclusive elections and urged the commissioners to resign so that new commissioners could be appointed to ensure fairness in new general elections set for October 15. #

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

2013 MID-TERM AUTOMATED ELECTIONS: FROM BAD TO WORSE; Comelec is now anointer of presumed winners

May 18, 2013 press statement

By committing more errors than those recorded in 2010, by making arbitrary and highly-irregular decisions during canvassing, and proclaiming presumed winning candidates prematurely the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has turned the second automated elections from bad to worse – a technology and political disaster. Aside from Comelec’s non-compliance – yet again – of the election law and the technical glitches, there was an unprecedented large-scale vote buying. Political clans are now even more entrenched with a bigger number of their members being fielded in extensive areas and perpetuating themselves in power thereafter.

In 2010, a significant number of clustered precincts in both provinces and cities had delayed transmissions of up to two days; as of May 17 or four days after this year’s election, 18,187 clustered precincts or 23% of the total number failed to transmit election returns affecting if not potentially disenfranchising 8.6M voters. Aside from demolishing the much-hyped “speed” of automation, the transmission delays opened the whole system to data manipulation and election rigging. More than 50% of 1,173 incidents based on verified PARTIAL monitoring results of AES Watch were PCOS-related (911 clustered precincts) – from initialization errors, machine breakdown to hardware problems and ballot rejection. A total of 1,432 monitored clustered precincts (1.84% of total CPs) from all over the country had either PCOS or transmission problems. This is equivalent to 1.432M compromised votes.

Compared to 2010, there are more data discrepancies as well as open and brazen possible manipulation of election data at the stage of canvassing and consolidation. For example: the ultra-fast and inflated PPCRV count caused by program error, the highly-suspicious intervention of Smartmatic technicians in fixing the program and deletion of an ER file, the 44-hour lull at 69% of ERs, and the absence of RMA results five days after election. Continue reading

Smartmatic top honcho sighted at PPCRV data center before wrong tally

What is a Smartmatic top official up to at the operations center of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) at 5 p.m. closing time yesterday before the scheduled transmission of election results from the country’s 78,000 clustered precincts?

Former Comelec IT Director and Automated Elections System Watch (AES Watch) IT expert Ernie del Rosario today expressed grave concerns over the suspicious presence of Albert Castro Rico, a Spanish Smartmatic official, at the command center and election server of the PPCRV, Comelec-accredited citizens’ arm. PPCRV is located at Pope Pius Center, UN Avenue, Manila. Continue reading

Election Diaries: Guns and Goons for Glory

Philippine election will never be complete without violence.

In Sultan Mastura, Maguindanao, a member of the municipal board of canvassers was gunned down by motorcycle-riding men. In Digos City, Davao, armed men stormed the house of a mayoral re-electionist in an attempt to kidnap his father. In Poblacion 1, Ilocos Norte, 2 died and 2 were wounded after an encounter between the campaigners of two competing mayors.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Army (PA), together with the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), identified 15 election hotspots in the country. As election day draws near, security is also heightened in the identified areas.

Election-related violence seems to be part and parcel of Philippine elections. It can also be observed that incident reports come mostly from the provinces as political rivalries are more intense in comparison to the metro. Innocent lives are lost as traditional politicians desperately compete for their desired posts. Force, instead of better programs enshrined in their platforms, is used to get the votes of the electorate. In turn, democracy and the liberty inherent to it are both jeopardized.

Such desperate acts are clear manifestations of cowardice on the part of the traditional politicians. It is a show of greed and the thirst to remain in position; a reflection of their hankering to subjugate the public and in turn, satisfy their own selfish appetites.

Ideally, that shouldn’t be the case. The election is crafted to be a competition of platforms geared towards societal progression. It is a battle that should primarily be based on merit, such as each candidate’s political and public service background. The expertise that anyone eying a public post should seek isn’t one that involves repressive force; rather, it is the genuine drive to serve the public. It is not a television show where politicians mimic actors and simply “flaunt what they’ve got”, in this case their guns and their goons just to get that golden post.

In the light of these haunting events, it is our role to be observant and critical come election day. As we thrive in a world of modern technology, we can maximize our phones and other gadgets through social networking sites to expose suspicious incidents to a greater audience. Various groups and organizations, such as AES Watch, are always open to gather and compile these reports so it can be forwarded to the proper authorities. In turn, election-related violence can be prevented.

With all things said, this should go without saying but I’ll say it anyway: exercise your right to suffrage. Every vote is important for it could determine our future. Go out and vote on May 13.

*Written by Ronald Ednalan Jr., Phoenicia Achaia dela Merced, Inna Castillo, AES Watch volunteers