NASSA calls for vigilance in 2013 election

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MANILA, September 21, 2012—With the 2013 elections just around the corner, the National Secretariat for Social Action-Justice and peace (NASSA) of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines called on every Filipinos to be vigilant in voting.

The social action and development arm of CBCP through its Chair, Manila Auxiliary Bishop Borderick Pabillo, has questioned the claim of accuracy of Smartmatic’s Precint Count Optical Scan (PCOS) vote count and the truthfulness of the technology that is expected to be used in the coming election.

Pabillo, in a statement, believes that electorates and candidates would end up victims of electronic cheating or ‘electronic dagdag bawas’ if the issue is not corrected.

“The Smartmatic Summary Report submitted to the Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms (CSER) of the House of the Representatives last August 3 on the Mock Elections it conducted last July 24–25, claimed that the accuracy rate of PCOS is 99.78710%. Not only does this claim not comply with the required accuracy rate under the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) Terms of Reference of the Automation for the 2010 National and Local Elections which is 99.995%, or 1 error in every 20,000 marks,” Pabillo said.

“Even more disturbing, Information Technology (IT) election groups found out in the audit of the mock election that the accuracy rate is actually 97.21519% or 557 errors in 20,000 marks. Compared to the required accuracy rate the difference huge—1 error compared to 557 errors. The difference would surely affect contested positions with small margin, especially in the local positions,” he added.

Pabillo also believes that one of the flaws found is in the method used by the Smartmatic in determining and reflecting the total sum of variance  which instead of reflecting the absolute value of individual variance for each candidate, the value cancels out when added with other negative and positive value of variance, thus, the accuracy of votes is definitely not possible due to the defect in the technology which can lead to an electronic cheating.

Pabillo expressed dismay that even the Commission on Election (Comelec) have not bothered to explain the accuracy issue and the calls of IT and electoral advocates to look into their findings have been ignored.

“Even the CSER appeared disinterested to entertain the analysis of the result of the mock election. Instead of opening doors for citizens’ participation to improve the automated election, Comelec chose to be exclusive and defend Smartmatic in every way,” he said.

He emphasized that during the mock election, there were other finding in the audit which are flawed and without bases.

“We had been awed by the automotive election in 2010. We were amazed by the speed of the PCOS in counting votes and providing speedy results that we forgot the long queue and other election irregularities. The majority of us declared the 2010 automated election successful,” he added.

He then asks, but how many of us dared to look at the accuracy of the machine in counting the votes? How vigilant and diligent were we in noting the glitches and irregularities of PCOS in the 2010 automated elections?

Pabillo, together with NASSA, are calling the attention of the President and the CSER, of both Senate and House of representative to diligently look into the shortcomings of the Smartmatic technology and to look for possible solutions and impose penalties to those found guilty for such flaws would affect and influence the 2013 election results.

“Good governance starts with election of candidates. And we want the counting of votes to be accurate and reliable, and not just fast, to protect the sacred right and will of the electorates,” he added.

He is also calling all political parties and candidate to demand  that Comelec ensure the accuracy of the automation technology it uses for the upcoming elections, so that they may not be victimized by electronic cheating.

The bishop is urging all Filipinos to be participative, vigilant and diligent to make sure that the upcoming automated election would be clean, authentic and responsible. And challenged the electorates to adhere always to the basic principles in participating in elections, it should be done for the promotion of justice and good governance, and in the pursuit of the common good and genuine human development. (Jandel Posion)

 

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