Political news , opinions and views for 2010 Presidential election

May 7, 2010

Election 2010 News - May 7, 2010


Palace: No meetings for ‘No-El,’ only on security

By TJ Burgonio (Philippine Daily Inquirer)
Link: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20100507-268515/Palace-No-meetings-for-No-El-only-on-security

MANILA, Philippines—The “no-election” scenario was never on the Palace menu.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has been meeting with top security officials because of her concern about unrest arising from the May 10 polls. A failure of elections was never discussed in any of the meetings, Malacañang claimed Thursday.
This whole idea of ‘no elections’ is, just to quote the cardinal, ‘crazy, crazy, crazy and irresponsible,’” Secretary Ricardo Saludo, Ms Arroyo’s spokesperson, said in a briefing. (He was quoting Manila Archbishop Gaudencio Cardinal Rosales’ reaction early this week to a warning of “people power” by Liberal Party standard-bearer Benigno Aquino III.)

Executive Secretary Leandro Mendoza also said it was the threats by communist and secessionist rebels to disrupt the polls that topped the agenda of the meeting on Wednesday.

In that meeting, Saludo said, Ms Arroyo reminded members of the National Security Council (NSC) to maintain stability on Election Day and onward in the face of possible protests.

Supreme Court voids NP-NPC merger

By Helen Flores (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - The Liberal Party (LP) stopped the Nacionalista Party (NP) yesterday from acquiring the status of dominant minority party after the Supreme Court (SC) voided the NP’s coalition with the Nationalist People’s Coalition (NPC).

In a unanimous decision, the SC agreed with the LP that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) committed “grave abuse of discretion” in disregarding its own deadline in approving the NP-NPC coalition.

“(The) NP-NPC’s petition for registration as a coalition is time-barred,” read the decision.

“Thus, Comelec was wrong in ordering the out-of-time registration of the NP-NPC coalition.

“In so ruling, we emphasize that the matter of party registration raises critical election concerns that should be handled with discretion commensurate with the importance of elections to our democratic system.

“The Comelec should be at its most strict in implementing and complying with the standards and procedures the Constitution and our laws impose.”

Delay looms in counting of 3M votes

By Marie Surbano (The Daily Tribune)
Link: http://www.tribuneonline.org/headlines/20100507hed5.html

A delay in the count of over 3 million votes is likely should the consortium of Smartmatic and Total Information Management Corp. (TIM) fail to deliver on time the compact flash cards for about five percent of areas considered as far flung or risky.
This was admitted yesterday by Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Jose Melo who said the supplier of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines may deliver the CF cards to five percent of the total vote precincts not on election day itself but at best the next day or May 11.

“Only 5 percent ‘may’ not get the flash cards with the testing. This may be done on the day of the elections itself. Five percent of the 76,000 may not have their cards attached and tested by Saturday and Sunday. And the rest will be there on Sunday itself for the testing,” Melo told reporters at a news briefing.

Cesar Flores, Smartmatic president for Asia Pacific, said the 5 percent CF cards that would not be delivered on time concerns security issues.

If machines fail, teachers not ready for manual count

By Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao, TJ Burgonio (Philippine Daily Inquirer)
Link: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20100507-268519/If-machines-fail-teachers-not-ready-for-manual-count

MANILA, Philippines—Teachers manning precincts on Election Day will be at a loss on what to do in case the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines still do not function properly.

The teachers are not prepared for manual counting, Abelardo Brutas, secretary general of the Teachers in the Philippine Public Sector (TOPPS, said.

Brutas said one of the hindrances to manual voting is the clustering of precincts. A clustered precinct could have up to a thousand voters.

Manual elections would only be possible if the Commission on Elections (Comelec) restores the original number of precincts, which is quite impossible at this time, he said.

“Definitely, we cannot handle the clustered precincts, where we have to deal with about a thousand voters per precinct,” Brutas said.

Gibo thanks TUCP, 18 groups for support

(The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard-bearer Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro thanked the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) and 18 more party-list groups for endorsing his candidacy, saying their backing is not just support for him but a collective commitment to an agenda for genuine change and sustainable national development into the next decade.

Teodoro said TUCP and the other party-list groups deserve to be represented in Congress to ensure that all sectors, especially the marginalized ones, are adequately heard as the next government seeks a national consensus behind a roadmap for change and development.

These party-list groups’ endorsement came on the heels of an announcement Sunday night in Davao City by Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, “self-appointed Son of God” and founder of the six million-strong Kingdom of Jesus Christ: The Name Above Every Name, that Teodoro should be the country’s next president.

Aside from TUCP, the party-list organizations that signed the manifesto were: AT (Aangat Tayo), ANAD (Alliance for Nationalism and Democracy), Senior Citizens, Ang Kasangga, BANAT (Barangay Association for National Advancement and Transparency), KAKUSA (Kapatiran ng mga Nakulong na Walang Sala), ABAKADA-Guro, ARC (Alliance for Rural Concerns) and ABS (Arts, Business and Science Professionals).

Supreme Court orders Comelec to bare details of preparations

By Edu Punay (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Amid fears of a failure of elections due to reported glitches in the automated system, the Supreme Court (SC) compelled yesterday the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to make public details of its preparations for the polls on Monday.

By a vote of 12-3, the high court partially granted the petition of a group of concerned citizens, led by former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr., and ordered the poll body to fully disclose its preparations for the conduct of the automated elections because of recent “alarming developments.”

Comelec spokesman James Jimenez said the poll body respects the decision of the SC and would abide by its order but believed that the petition of Guingona’s group was unnecessary.

“The Comelec has always been very transparent in the implementation of the automation project,” Jimenez said.

In a 20-page resolution penned by Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, the SC upheld the right of petitioners to information on the poll automation, which it said is “a matter of great public concern.”

300,000 teachers disenfranchised

By Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Education (DepEd) urged the Commission on Elections (Comelec) yesterday to act on the complaints of some 300,000 teachers on their possible disenfranchisement in the May 10 polls.

The DepEd said the Comelec failed to reactivate the teachers’ registration as voters in their respective precincts.

DeEd Undersecretary for Legal and Legislative Affairs Franklin Sunga said the large number of teachers facing disenfranchisement was causing demoralization in the ranks.

“Our teachers have been religiously performing their election duties as part of public service since the country’s first elections. For them to be deactivated as a consequence of their service is grossly unfair. We urge Comelec to listen to the plight of the teachers,” Sunga appealed.

He said that in the past, the Comelec allowed teachers on poll duty to vote in their assigned precincts and not where they are registered.

Poll machines pass 2nd round of tests

By Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Automated elections nationwide will be held as scheduled on Monday, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said yesterday with renewed optimism after the machines passed a second round of tests.

Comelec Chairman Jose Melo said compact flash cards will be distributed by Saturday to 95 percent of the clustered precincts throughout the country.

“In case there would be precincts in very, very remote areas without compact flash cards or if they do not arrive on time, voters will still go and vote, and their ballots will be deposited in ballot boxes and, on election day itself or the day after the flash cards arrive and (are) tested, the ballots will then be fed for counting,” he said.

Results of testing of PCOS machines, particularly in Metro Manila, showed a 100 percent match of manual and machine counting of votes, he added.

Melo said manual counting of votes would be held only in small municipalities, in case a machine would malfunction and a spare one is not immediately available.

May 5, 2010

Election 2010 News - May 5, 2010


Smartmatic admits glitches, errors; Testing junked, 76,000 flash cards recalled Failed polls fears up as PCOS malfunction

By Marie A. Surbano (The Daily Tribune)
Link: http://www.tribune.net.ph/

Six days before the precincts open for the electorate to cast their vote using the new system of automated polls, real fears of a total failure of elections and a no-election scenario surfaced yesterday as precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines tested virtually nationwide, all failed, with the machines giving out zero votes to some candidates, while some candidates had all the votes.

Machine supplier Smartmatic and Commission on Elections (Comelec) officials also yesterday tried to allay the public’s fear, saying that these machine glitches that were experienced in areas where machines were tested, are easily fixed, adding that it was human error that led to the failure of the machines to correctly read votes for local positions.

Smartmatic Southeast Asia president Cesar Flores admitted its mistake and said the company is taking full responsibility for it, as Smartmatic failed to properly configure compact flash disks of the PCOS machines to properly read the votes for the local races because of a difference in the layouts of the national and local ballots.

“The PCOS machine incorrectly read the local ballot because the local ballot has double spacing. If you look at the national (ballot), they are all single spaced.”

Postpone elections, Arroyo lawyer urges

By Christine O. Avendaño (Philippine Daily Inquirer)
Link: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20100505-268136/Postpone-elections-Arroyo-lawyer-urges

MANILA, Philippines—President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s election lawyer Tuesday sought the postponement of the May 10 polls for 15 days “as the only remedy to prevent a failure of elections” and to give poll officials enough time to prepare for manual elections.

Lawyer Romulo Macalintal said the Omnibus Election Code allows for the Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc to reset the polls “based on serious cause like the apparent failure of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to properly and correctly function.”

“Under the present situation, a 15-day postponement would be reasonable to give time for the Comelec to print additional forms for manual tally and canvass,” he said in a statement. He stressed that this was “not the time to blame anybody but the time to solve this serious problem.”

In a phone interview, Macalintal said there was a legal basis for Comelec to postpone the polls, citing the Supreme Court’s decision three months ago in the case of Harry Roque versus the poll body.

Calls for manual count mount but Comelec says no

(Philippine Daily Inquirer)
Link: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20100505-268135/Calls-for-manual-count-mount-but-Comelec-says-no

MANILA, Philippines—Widespread misreading of ballots in the testing of counting machines for Monday’s automated polls has revived calls from national and local candidates for a full manual count to ensure that no massive electronic rigging will occur on Election Day.

The Commission on Elections (Comelec), however, quickly thumbed down the suggestions, saying it was confident that computerized balloting and canvassing will push through despite the technical setback of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.

“We are confident that failure of election is not a problem,” said Commissioner Rene Sarmiento.

But Liberal Party standard-bearer Sen. Benigno Aquino III wanted a firm assurance from the Comelec that it “will do everything within the bounds of the law” to ensure that automated elections would push through or else prepare for a manual count “as mandated by law.”

In a statement, Aquino said the misreading of the PCOS machines belied the poll agency’s claim that it is “ready.”

'Don't be surprised if frontrunner loses'

(The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - The race for the presidency is still wide open, Malacañang said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters, Press Undersecretary Rogelio Peyuan said Filipinos must not be surprised if the winner is not among the frontrunners in the surveys.
“Elections give us a lot of surprises,” he said.

Peyuan said figures from the Commission on Elections (Comelec) showed some 50 million registered voters nationwide, out of a population of about 92 to 94 million.

“It would be very safe for each and everyone to think and to always keep in mind that if there are about 50 million voters and 10 or 11 percent of them do not vote, as we experienced in the past, it would be hard for us to have faith in the surveys that have 900 respondents in Luzon, 600 in the Visayas and maybe another 600 in Mindanao. That would be very, very unfair to even presume and assume that that (surveys) is the sentiment of the people,” he said.

Peyuan cited the case of Lakas-Kampi-CMD standard-bearer Gilbert Teodoro Jr., who has not fared well in the surveys.

Voting machines fail 76,000 memory cards to be replaced

By Michael Lim Ubac, Tarra Quismundo, Kristine L. Alave (Philippine Daily Inquirer)
Link: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20100505-268133/Voting-machines-fail

MANILA, Philippines—Now, it can be told officially. The tests produced weird results.

This sent embarrassed officials of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and its partner, Smartmatic-TIM, scrambling to save the historic computerized balloting on May 10 by recalling 76,000 compact flash (CF) cards that are in the heart of the counting machines.

“We didn’t expect this to come out, but we are responding on time,” Cesar Flores, spokesperson for Smartmatic-TIM, at a nationally televised news conference said.

Flores blamed the glitches, which first surfaced in two precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines last month at the start of advance overseas voting in Hong Kong, on “human error.”

“We are taking all measures to remedy this,” Flores said, just five days before the May 10 national and local elections.

“We are optimistic that there will be no failure of elections,” said Commissioner Rene Sarmiento. “We are taking all measures to remedy this.”

Villar vows to bring home stranded OFWs on Day 1 of presidency

By Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Nacionalista Party (NP) standard-bearer Sen. Manny Villar has reiterated his vow to bring distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) back to the country and provide them with jobs and livelihood opportunities.

In his speech at his campaign rally in Vigan last Sunday night, Villar said this policy would be set into motion on Day One of his presidency.

He promised to establish a country that can provide opportunities to Filipinos so parents do not have to leave their families and children behind in order to work abroad.

Villar strongly believes a dream Philippines can be achieved by investing heavily on developing a “strong entrepreneurial class” by funneling credit to small and medium-scale enterprises.

He is also pushing for labor-intensive industries like tourism and the service industry.

According to records, close to two million Filipinos left the country to work abroad, which roughly translates to 4,500 workers being deployed daily-a record-high in overseas deployment.

19 party-list groups endorse Gibo

By Jaime Laude (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - A coalition of 19 party-list organizations including thousands of urban poor residents in Tondo, Manila declared their support for administration candidate Gilberto “Gibo” Teodoro Jr.

Former Interior secretary Rafael Alunan also joined in support of Teodoro.

Their endorsements came after Davao-based Pastor Apollo Quiboloy of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ picked Teodoro on Sunday.

Quiboloy said his congregation chose Teodoro among the presidential candidates who have been trying to get his endorsement.

Alunan, on the other hand, said he picked Teodoro as his personal favorite.

“My presidential candidate is an underdog even in his own party (Lakas-Kampi-CMD), stabbed in the front, back and sides by treacherous partymates,” he said.

Alunan described Teodoro as “a non-traditional politician that prefers the high to the low road.”

Government press probed for printing campaign materials

By Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star)

MANILA, Philippines - Philippine Information Agency (PIA) Director General Conrado Limcaoco is launching a probe into reports that officials of one of the printing offices that he is supervising have been illegally using facilities to print election materials for their own or their relatives’ political campaign.

Limcaoco was reacting to a report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) that some members of the board of the APO Production Unit, Inc. who are running for local elective posts, are using their printing facilities for their campaign materials.

The PCIJ report said the officials were taking advantage of the ambiguity of the status of the APO, whether it is a government corporation or a private entity.

The Omnibus Election Code prohibits the use of printing presses owned or controlled by the government in any election campaign or partisan political activity.

The penalties for officials of such an entity caught in violation of the law range from one to six years in prison, along with disqualification from public office and forfeiture of the right of suffrage, the PCIJ pointed out.

Voting machines malfunction

MANILA, Philippines - Fears of election failure intensified yesterday after some of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to be used by the Commission on Elections (Comelec) failed test runs in some parts of the country, prompting a stop to the testing and a recall of the machines.

President Arroyo ordered Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) chairman Ray Anthony Chua to meet with Comelec and Smartmatic officials to see what could be done to address the problem.
Mrs. Arroyo’s election lawyer Romulo Macalintal said postponement of the elections “is the only remedy to prevent a failure of election.”

Smartmatic president for Asia-Pacific Cesar Flores said when the testing started last Monday, some PCOS machines produced “contradictory” reading of the ballots for local elective posts.

“The first thing to do is look at all these reports and go to different possibilities of errors and finally it was narrowed down to configuration issue,” Flores said during a press conference at the Comelec.

The conference was also attended by Makati congressman and Joint Congressional Oversight Committee for Poll Automation co-chairman Teddy Boy Locsin, Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) chairperson Henrietta de Villa and Chua, among others.