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Pointed questions for the Comelec chair

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Get Real

Pointed questions for the Comelec chair

Commission on Elections Chair Sixto Brillantes has the right of it when he says that the 60-30-10 pattern of voting that was observed by concerned netizens in data posted by the Comelec’s transparency server for the senatorial race was not indicative of fraud. But then he spoils it all when he explains his reasoning.

He is quoted in this newspaper as saying, “Definitely, there was no fraud. I’m sure of that because the pattern that they’re saying (if true) would mean that it was programmed. Definitely, it was not programmed.”

Notice, Reader, that Brillantes is actually agreeing with the fraud/conspiracy theorists that the 60-30-10 voting pattern for senators means there was fraud, i.e., that the machines were programmed to result in such a pattern. He then declares emphatically that the machines were not programmed. A declaration which, presumably, he expects us to take on faith, because there was no time for a review of the source code by interested parties as the law provides. Unfortunately, given the many times he has been caught in what can only politely be termed as “inaccuracies”—I will give some examples anon—taking him on faith can only mean that either one is utterly naive, or that one is his mother.

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But let us see where his reasoning leads us: The 60-30-10 pattern can only mean that the machines were programmed. The machines were NOT programmed. Therefore, the pattern could not have occurred. Which, of course, flies in the face of what the transmitted results from the Comelec’s own transparency servers reveal. But Brillantes has never been one to let the facts get in the way of his story or his conclusions.

So why did I start this column by saying that Brillantes was in the right of it? Well, because a 60-30-10 pattern in the senatorial results does not necessarily mean that fraud was committed, or, as the conspiracy/fraud advocates claim, that the results are statistically impossible/improbable). It is merely the law of large numbers (LLN) at work.

According to the LLN, the average of the results obtained from a large number of trials should be close to the expected value, and will tend to become closer as more trials are performed. Applying that to our elections, the number of trials would refer to the transmissions from the PCOS (precinct count optical scan) machines, and the expected value would be what the Filipino voters really wanted (the will of the people).

Now, if the 60-30-10 pattern had also been reflected from the regional votes, that would arouse my suspicions, more so with provincial votes, and so on down the line. And the Reader will be relieved to know that while the national pattern was 60-30-10 consistently, the regional pattern did not exhibit such consistency.

However, before we sit back and relax, it must be pointed out that the controversy—much ado about nothing, really—involved only the senatorial race. And in the overall scheme of things,  that means 12 positions from a total of at least 15,000 electoral positions at stake. That there may not have been fraud in the senatorial elections—at least insofar as the 60-30-10 argument is concerned—does not mean that there has been no fraud at the local level (and I include the congressional races in this category, although they are legally national positions).

And here is where we start listing down the many “inaccuracies,” as well as the sins of omission and commission that Brillantes has been caught committing, not necessarily in any order, chronological or significant.

On Election Day and immediately after, Brillantes was bragging about how only 200 (originally 258) out of the around 78,000 PCOS machines were defective. And how the midterm elections were more successful than the 2010 election, particularly with regard to the speed of the results. And he held this view, in spite of contrary reports of various election watchdogs like Kontra Daya, National Citizens’ Movement for Free Elections, and Automated Election System Watch.

Well, I read a news report yesterday that he finally admitted that 25 percent of the PCOS machines had suffered from “technical glitches.” But what is more significant is that he apparently deliberately withheld this information (or denied the watchdog reports) because “it might have created problems.” Excuse me?

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Even more disturbing is that these “glitches” included the failure of the PCOS machines to transmit the election results electronically—and therefore meant that the compact flash cards had to be taken out of the machines and transported physically to the canvassing centers (with everything that could happen on the way). Brillantes blamed the telcos for this, until the telcos issued a statement that they had experienced no signal problems on that day.

And the most disturbing problem is that the delays in transmission lasted for as many as four days—which then raises the question: Weren’t the PCOS machines supposed to have been sealed by then? Why was transmission taking place so late in the game?

Brillantes must also answer other questions, such as: What is the Comelec going to do about the fact that Smartmatic lied to the Supreme Court, in effect saying that it had the right to grant a perpetual license to the Comelec to use the software (read source code)? Or: How is the Comelec going to justify that it paid $10 million for the source code just before the elections, when that was supposed to be part of the deal with Smartmatic?

And finally, how is Brillantes going to justify the confidential/intelligence funds he has been “sharing” with his Comelec commissioners? (Only Gus Lagman returned the money.)

As one newspaper editorial said: Time to go.

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TAGS: 2013 Elections, Comelec, Elections, Get Real, opinion, politics, Sixto Brillantes Jr., Solita Collas-Monsod
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