The count continues

RP election results still up in the air
PHILIPPINES – While still leading in the overall polls for vice-president, the United Opposition candidate, Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay, has conceded defeat to the Liberal Party’s Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas II in the overseas absentee voting.

Roxas and presidential candidate Sen. Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III scored huge leads in the overseas absentee voting in five countries – Laos, Guam, Brunei, Papua New Guinea, Thailand, which were the first batch of manually counted and transmitted certificates of canvass (CoCs) tallied.

The protracted manual counting of overseas absentee votes continues but is in danger of being delayed further as several members of the joint committee on national canvass have been pushing for an examination by information technology experts of the audit logs of the more than 76,000 compact flash memory cards and Precinct Count Opitical Scan (PCOS) machines used in the May 10 Philippine elections.

Quezon Rep. Matias Defensor, vice chairman of the House Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms, said the scrutiny is vital in the national canvassing of votes due to reports of alleged poll fraud committed through switching or manipulation of memory cards.

On May 27, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, who co-chairs the committee with Speaker Prospero Nograles, proposed the creation the technical experts committee in order to aid the National Board of Canvassersin examining technical details of the memory cards and the PCOS machines. Counting was suspended temporarily on May 25 due to the lack of digital signatures in certificates of canvass.

The Liberal party also proposed on May 27 the creation of a special tabulating body to start canvassing the electronic returns transmitted from election precincts after the national elections on May 10 to ensure all votes cast on that day are counted.

Meanwhile, a poll observer team recommended the impounding of some 82,000 PCOS machines and memory cards used in the elections to allow detailed investigations into the allegations of widespread electronic poll fraud. Global Filipino Nation (GFN), a group that had election observers in Pampanga, Quezon and Iloilo also challenged the legitimacy of the May 10 elections, citing five cases that “put to question the authenticity, integrity, confidentiality, veracity and accuracy of the vote counts.”

The group, which represents Filipinos in 30 countries, said that the election results transmitted from the precincts did not have digital signatures of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI). They also cited other discrepancies such as: the number of disenfranchised voters was enough to greatly affect the results of the elections; the Automated Election System (AES) was implemented without the appropriate law-specified field testing; the source code review was not completed and initial findings were not addressed; no audit was done on the AES prior to the elections and only a mandated random manual audit was held that, until now, has not been completed.

Aside from GFN’s recommendation to impound PCOS machines and memory card for forensic comparisons with the actual ballots, the group also said the Commission on Elections should promptly comply with a Supreme Court directive to make public the documents on Comelec’s preparation and compliance with the requirements of the automated elections law.

GFN added that an independent, non-partisan qualified party should conduct a thorough audit of the automated polls system with recommendations on improving automated registration, purging of voters lists, precinct mapping, and Internet voting.

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