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.

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