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PCOS machines again for 2013 polls? Why not?Unsa imoha opinion ani?

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According to recent surveys, three out of every four Filipinos are
satisfied with the Automated Election System (AES), which the
Commission on Elections (Comelec) adopted on May 10.

the protests filed by losing candidates, the stunning success of the
AES is seen as helping to rehabilitate the image of the scandal-wracked

The AES was made possible through the poll body’s
partnership with the private consortium Smartmatic-TIM, which used the
precinct count optical scan (PCOS) technology.

Although several
PCOS machines acted up and caused delays in the voting at several
precincts in certain parts of the country, misgivings about the AES
quickly vanished as soon as election results began to be available
within hours after the polls closed.

For the 2013 mid-term
elections, the same AES has been proposed through the government’s
outright purchase of Smartmatic-TIM’s PCOS machines. The arguments
backing this proposal are sound and persuasive.

Buying the PCOS
machines would, not only remove the need for another, expectedly
contentious round of public biddings, it would also save government
money and ensure that the 2013 elections, along with future polls,
would be free from fraud and their results widely acceptable to the

The PCOS machines used last May were leased by
Smartmatic TIM to the government for P7.2 billion by virtue of a
contract that contains an option to purchase them for use in subsequent
elections for P2 billion. The total bill for the purchase option would
amount to a maximum of P5 billion, covering the machines and the
automation technology services they require.

If the government
were to opt for an entirely different technology, it would have to be
ready to shell out at least P11 billion, which it already did for the
last elections.

Critics of the purchase proposal claim that
Smarmatic-TIM’s technology would already be obsolete by the time the
next and other future elections come around.

To this, the
consortium has responded with assurances that through its technology
support services it would regularly update its software—primarily to
prevent potential hackers and would-be cheats from tampering with the

Besides saving billions of pesos by acquiring the PCOS
machines, the government would also save on training costs for election
personnel who have already been trained by Smartmatic-TIM. Despite the
isolated incidents of foul-ups and glitches, the vast majority of these
personnel were able to put their skills and training to good use last

Other detractors of the option to purchase the PCOS machines continue to harp on the legalistic angle.
proponents, however, point out that no less than the Supreme Court has
already upheld the validity of the Co-melec-Smartmatic TIM contract
with the Comelec.

The high tribunal even took note of the report
of the Special Bids and Awards Committee-Technical Working Group
(SBAC-TWG), which pointed out that Smartmatic-TIM’s AES system and PCOS
machines had passed “all end-to-end demo tests” using a set of 26
criteria, including an accuracy rating of at least 99.955 percent.

Where then does the persistent campaign to discredit the AES come from?

in the information technology (IT) sector point out that the most
vociferous group of detractors of Smartmatic-TIM and its PCOS machines
consists of losing bidders in the Comelec’s AES project.

self-styled “IT experts” have filed a graft complaint before the Office
of the Ombudsman against Comelec officials and Smartmatic-TIM
executives. They allege that many AES security features were abandoned
or disabled during the elections to pave the way for widespread

They have been fueling the suspicion about a purported
band of renegade Comelec-accredited technicians who had tampered with
the election results by preprogramming the PCOS machines.

fact, each and every one of the PCOS machines was under the joint
control of the Comelec, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and
Smartmatic-TIM. The machines were only online for one to two minutes
for the digital transmission of election results (ERs). They also
adopted a security system similar to or even better than those used by
banks for their Internet or ATM operations.

Soon after the May
10 elections Dennis Villorente, director of the DOST Advanced Science
and Tech Institute, had testified before an inquiry called by the House
Committee on Suffrage and Electoral Reforms chaired by then Makati Rep.
Teodoro Locsin during the 14th Congress. According to Villorente, the
PCOS machines garnered 100-percent accuracy in reading results during
the pre-election tests done by the DOST.

In addition, Al
Vitangol III, a certified hacking forensic investigator, said during
the same House probe that vote-counting results were automatically
saved in write-protected files in the Compact Flash (CF) cards and thus
could not be tampered with.

Demonstrations during the House
committee’s inspection of Smartmatic TIM’s plant in Ca-buyao, Laguna,
showed that PCOS machines did not count additional transmissions of the
same election results, that audit logs could not be tampered with
because the machine that was tested did not start up when it was fed a
CF card whose log had been edited and that efforts to delete a file or
write a file on the protected backup CF card both failed.

view of these findings, why are some “IT experts” still bent on
tarnishing the integrity of the country’s first-ever automated

It needs reiterating that the most vehement
detractors of the AES are executives of IT firms that lost in the
bidding for the project.
Need we say more?

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