Sunday, November 4, 2012


by Ducky Paredes

‘Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile publicly backed Comelec’s acquisition of the PCOS machines and expressed the fear that doing otherwise could spell the return of dagdag-bawas.’
THE decision of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) to accept the offer of Smartmatic Asia Pacific president Cesar Flores on the PCOS machines was actually the only decision that made any sense.
The overwhelmingly positive response to the results of the 2010 national elections validated the reliability of the technology provided by Smartmatic-TIM. Independent surveys conducted by Social Weather Stations (SWS), Pulse Asia and StratPOLLS all say so and the better-than-expected outcome of the 2010 elections proves this,
Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr. notes that since most teachers were trained to use the PCOS in 2010 there is not much need for additional training or voter education.
There is also the fact that the US, Brazil, India, Venezuela and Belgium have all decided to buy automation machines rather than just leasing them as a way to save funds. This tells us that this is the better way to go.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez points out that the use of paper-based ballots in the PCOS machines assures higher auditability. The Comelec can rely on a hard copy to compare to the final automated result.
Vice President Jejomar Binay and Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile publicly backed Comelec’s acquisition of the PCOS machines and expressed the fear that doing otherwise could spell the return of dagdag-bawas and other forms of large-scale electoral fraud in the coming polls.
Still, there were critics who disapproved of Comelec’s move. Eventually, however, the Supreme Court upheld the P1.8 billion contract between Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM, paving the way for the poll body to begin preparations for next year’s midterm elections using the tried-and-tested PCOS/AES technology. 
These critics are old groups like CenPEG (Center for People Empowerment in Governance) and Transparent Elections, both of which were influenced by former Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman, who had his own alternative system that he was trying to sell to Comelec. The CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action also joined the fray.
As Flores points out, their criticisms against PCOS were far from being scientific, and were based on the same old allegations that ignored the facts and exhaustive explanations already made by Smartmatic-TIM.
Rather than stoop to its critics’ level, Smartmatic relied on indisputable facts to explain its side.
On the allegations that the PCOS technology failed to pass accuracy tests, Flores said Smartmatic never said that its machines had an accuracy rate of 99.78710 percent.
“The accuracy rate of the PCOS machines is 100 percent. This has been proven and demonstrated by Comelec during the 2009 bidding technical qualification and by SLI, the international certification body that tested and certified the system for Comelec during the System Certification conducted in 2010,” says Flores.
The same PCOS model used by the Comelec in the 2010 elections was also tested, retested and certified by their respective election commissions in New York and Ontario, Canada. According to Flores, in every test done, the accuracy rate was 100 percent.
In an attempt to enlighten its critics, last July, Smartmatic-TIM conducted a mock election and a manual audit at the House of Representatives, in response to the allegation by CenPEG and its allied groups that a previous mock election conducted by the Senate’s committee on electoral reforms was insufficient because only 50 ballots were tested in that chamber.
The ballots were filled out by House committee officials and personnel using different types of marking devices like pens, markers, and pencils and with all kinds of marks possible -- Xs, checks, smileys, full shading, overshading, undershading; overvotes and undervotes were also done.
The votes were manually counted based on the reading of the paper ballots and interpretations of those doing the manual tallies.
The House post audit consisted of 10 partial canvassing sheets that Smartmatic simply added and presented exactly as they were counted by Congress.
Flores acknowledged that there was indeed an error in the calculations owing to the displacement of a decimal number in its report, which had inadvertently rated the machine’s accuracy level at 99.99974 percent instead of the correct rate of 99.7403 percent.
Smartmatic’s technology, Flores notes, works with mathematical exactitude based on a preset threshold set by the user. In the 2010 elections, the threshold was 50 percent; but, in the House post-audit, the threshold was only 10 percent.
The PCOS machine saves every image of every ballot cast with an assessment printed at the bottom of the page. “We can therefore match every physical ballot with every scanned image and check how the PCOS read and interpreted the different marks,” says Flores.
He recalled that when Smartmatic did its own audit of the results of the House mock poll and compared the actual ballots with the images stored by the PCOS machine, this audit showed that every ballot was manually checked and that each matched the original PCOS count with 100 percent consistency and accuracy.
“They can conduct their review of the accuracy of the PCOS in every one of the ballots used during the mock election. The ballots and the scanned images are available to any organization that would want to check the accuracy of the PCOS machines,” Flores said in a challenge to PCOS critics.
He said independent tests done by SLI, the state of New York, Ontario and New Brunswick, to name a few, each and every one validated the accuracy of the PCOS.
“Smartmatic has explained the facts over and over, and we will continue to do so, since nothing can hide the truth about a system that is 100 percent accurate, and more importantly, 100 percent auditable,” adds Flores.
For me, what proves the PCOS’ accuracy is the fact that no electoral protest filed after the 2010 election has prospered. This can only be because there was no marked difference between the PCOS count in 2010 and the manual recount done by either the Comelec or the House of Representatives Electoral Tribunal (HRET) in the contested congressional and local races across the country.
Neither the Comelec nor the HRET found major differences in the PCOS and manual recount tallies in such cases as protests filed by former Mayor Joselito Atienza against Manila Mayor Alfredo Lim, by former Rep. Ace Barbers against Surigao del Norte Gov. Sol Folcadilla Matugas, by former Rep. Consuelo Dy against Pasay City Mayor Antonio Calixto nor in the case of former Rep. Raul Gonzalez Jr. against Iloilo Rep. Jerry Treñas.
These electoral protest cases did not prosper simply because the opponents of the winning candidates failed to show that the PCOS counts were tarnished with fraud or were different in any way from the tallies in the manual recounts by Comelec or HRET. If that was how the PCOS worked in individual contests, doesn’t that prove that PCOS worked the same way in the presidential and senatorial contests?
Candidates in the 2013 polls can expect that the PCOS will also work for them as well as they did in 2010 when, for the first time ever, we had an election where the results were known more quickly (within a few hours) compared to previous elections, when it took weeks for the results to come in and these 2010 results were 100 percent accurate, the way that elections should be.
Published October 12, 2012, Malaya Online Your reactions are welcome at


I am a Responsible and Principled Citizen.

I will educate myself and others about the issues at hand so that my vote is a meaningful and relevant exercise of my right of suffrage.

I pledge to vote for candidates who will abide by the duly constituted rules on campaigning because I understand that those who refuse to obey the law in the little things are not likely to obey the law in the more important things;

I pledge to vote for candidates who, by word and action, renounce violence, coercion, vote-buying, and corruption as means for getting elected;

I pledge to vote for the candidates who listen to their constituents and are responsive to the needs and aspirations of those they seek to represent;

I pledge to vote as my conscience dictates in all elections.

I make these promises freely and upon my honor.

(This Voter Pledge was read at the Unity Walk of 13 January 2013, by COMELEC Commissioner Elias R. Yusoph)