Uphold rule of law in the ARMM Elections

This is a press statememt of Tanggulang Demokrasya (Tan Dem).

Tanggulang Demokrasya (Tan Dem), a network of political reform advocacy groups and individuals, strongly urges the holding of the elections in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) as scheduled, using the manual system of counting.

In the spirit of strengthening democracy, we of Tan Dem call the attention of Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Law Reforms Chair Hon. Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago and Honorable Senator members thereof, to the blatant disrespect for the law and the Supreme Court by the COMELEC Commissioners and its bureaucracy relative to the conduct of the May 2010 automated elections.

Tan Dem strongly objects to the plan of Congress and Malacanang to postpone the ARMM elections and to synchronize it with midterm polls in 2013, on the following grounds:

1. The people of ARMM should not be deprived of their democratic right to choose their leaders in fair and honest elections.

2. The Organic Charter of the ARMM should prevail over all considerations except in imminent danger of widespread armed violence.

Tan Dem also objects to the proposed move of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to purchase the dubious PCOS machines of Smartmatic-TIM and strongly recommends instead the temporary use of manual counting until the following flaws have been rectified and grievances have been redressed:

1. The Senate Forensic examination of the 60 PCOS machines seized in Antipolo during the national elections last May 10, 2010 showed flaws that indicate vulnerability to manipulation and insertion of spurious data.

2. The cost of this 5,000 PCOS machines intended for the ARMM elections at 2.2 billion is exorbitant, considering that there are only a few elective positions at stake and that th ARMM electorate comprises only 3 percent of the total Philippine voting population.

3. The use of the Automated Election System in its present flawed form in the ARMM elections would mean a repeat of the gross violation of the Automated Election law which have been documented by the IT industry and authorized by the IT industry and authorized foreign observers.

4. A manual count with such a small voting population, if conducted according to law by the COMELEC, can result in a fair and honest elections so that the resources saved may be used for the institutional reform of the COMELEC and the AES in the run-up to the 2013 elections.

TAN DEM decries the COMELEC’s blatant violations of provisions of the Automated Election Law (Republic Act No. 9369) as duly documented in the report of the foreign observers group fielded by the Global Filipino Nation in the last May 10, 2010 elections:

1. The suspension of the digital signature of the Board of Elections Inspectors (BEI) or the so-called signatures.

2. The suspension of the use of the Ultraviolet Scanners which are designed to authenticate the ballots being fed into PCOS machine.

3. The suspension of the PCOS function to show on the screen the voter’ ballots instead of merely the word “CONGRATULATIONS”.

4. The disregard of the law’s provision on “data retention: when the COMELEC destroyed memory cards and Compact Flash Cards as early as May 15.

5. The uncompleted source code review and pre-testing of the PCOS machines as specified in the law.

6. The grossly defective implementation of the Random Manual Count in blatant violation of the law in terms of accuracy.

    – The results of the Random Manual Count at 99.6% is a gross violation of the legal requirement of an “accuracy rating of at least 99.995 percent”, thus allowing an error in the random manual count of about 4 to 6 million votes either added or subtracted from the correct count.

7. The disenfranchisement of an estimated 2 to 8 million voters of the presidential, vice-presidential and senatorial elections.

Tan Dem expresses its deep concern over the massive disenfranchisement of people’s electoral rights in the May 10, 2010 national elections. Tan Dem decries the possible postponement of the ARMM for the 8th time as it will further marginalize our Muslim brothers and sisters.

Tan Dem condemns the persistent refusal of the COMELEC to comply with the Supreme Court ruling that the Center of People Empowerment and Governance (CENPEG) of the University of the Philippines be allowed access to the AES source code for a comprehensive and independent review of the source codes used during the May 10, 2010 elections.

    – A comprehensive review of the source codes would show evidence of anomalies in the system.

Tanggulang Demokrasya is a network of information technology experts, overseas Filipino professionals, political reform advocates, onshore citizens, and taxpayers groups, clamoring for the comprehensive review of the May 2010 automated elections and a citizens recount in the face of serious election law violations by COMELEC and other operational glitches that put to serious doubt the credibility of the elections.