Erap lawyer objects, Binay lawyer pushes compact discs count
The National Board of Canvassers, despite clear irregularities marking the provincial election officials’ documents in the ballot boxes, such as the absence of electronically transmitted Election Returns (ERs), double Certificates of Canvass where the figures were conflicting, and no CoCs, went on with the canvassing yesterday, instead relying on the compact discs submitted by the election officers.
During the canvassing, Pwersa ng Masa (PMP) and personal counsel of former President Joseph Estrada, George Garcia, objected to the use of the CD in lieu of the electronically transmitted CoCs.
“The CD cannot be used to take the place of the electronically transmitted CoC,” Garcia said.
PMP spokesman Ralph Calinisan explained that the use of the CD is not in the requirement of the law. He lamented that amid the serious objections raised by the PMP and other presidential candidates the canvassing continued.
“The digital signature is supposed to be in the electronically transmitted CoC. Now we are faced with Cds,” Calinisan said, adding that they have a continuing objection on the ground that the electronically transmitted CoCs do not bear the digital signatures of the Board of Election Inspectors.
Lawyer Homobono Adaza, counsel for presidential candidate Sen. Jamby Madrigal shared the PMP’s position regarding the lack of digital signatures on the electronically transmitted CoCs.
“The basis of the CoC is illegal, it is not signed,” Adaza said in an interview. Adaza had continually manifested before the NBoC that the CoCs are not digitally signed and therefore illegal.
Adaza posited that the results of the canvass is null and void.
Garcia had manifested before the NBoC the “incredible” results of the presidential canvass in San Juan City where the former president lost to LP presidential bet Sen. Benigno Aquino III.
“We find it incredible that we lost in San Juan. It is a universal truth that Erap is strong in San Juan,” he said.
The canvassing is expected to end on Monday when the provincial Board of Election Inspectors appears before the NBoC to explain the CoCs that were not canvassed.
The camp of Sen. Manuel “Mar” Roxas, also yesterday remained adamant in having the so-called “null votes” counted for the vice presidential race, estimated at three million, especially after noting alleged possible cases of electoral fraud.
Roxas’ legal counsels vowed to resort to all legal remedies available, should there be any proclamation by Congress.
Amid reports that Congress as NBOC will push the proclamation of winning candidates this week, Roxas’ camp said they are ready to pose an objection.
“We will still register our objections. We will put all our arguments on the floor. We will put that in a written objection and we will move that they will listen to our arguments, consider them, and rule all these arguments in accordance with the law.
“We will resort to all the legal remedies that are available to us. It is our position that let us not rush this. Let us count every vote,” he said, citing some results in Central Visayas which they claimed were questionable.
“There are CoCs that have reported final testing and sealing results, and not the actual results. They erroneously uploaded those results and those erroneous results are in the CoCs.
Even as Congress is set to proclaim the winners in the May 10 presidential race, there remain security issues related to the automated election and until these are plugged, doubts will linger on the credibility of poll results, said the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) through its IT consultant, Lito Averia.
This comes on the heels of a new controversy arising from reports that the Comelec had asked on May 9 regional offices of the Department of Science and Technology (DoST) to configure new compact flash (CF) cards with the use of two burners. The new CF cards number about 1,600.
“The demonstration of the AES by Smartmatic, albeit in a controlled environment, may have addressed detailed issues raised during the committee hearings, but some questions still remain unanswered,” the CenPEG IT analyst said. Security breaches and data tampering can still occur with the participation of insiders who know the keys (passwords) and have intimate knowledge of a system, he added.
He said that in the botched May 3 final testing and sealing procedure due to the unreconfigured CF cards, the central password (used for digital signing) management by Comelec, the console port on the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) counting machines” are security holes that have to be thoroughly reviewed.”
“Were these security holes exploited to breach the system and perpetrate fraud?,” Averia asks.
He asked if the CF cards used in the AES are truly WORM (Write Once, Read Many) devices as represented by Smartmatic, since CenPEG’s research does not reveal that such WORM CF cards exist.
“At best, the device could be write-protected with logical keys or passwords,” he said, referring to the Cagayan de Oro CF cards, found to be genuine, and the CF cards presented by Rep. Annie Rose Susano in Congress.
One CF card’s slog line (or record) showed gibberish, indicating some kind of digital signature record, and “what remains open until fully investigated is the question if said CF cards were used or substituted to perpetrate fraud,” said Averia.
Averia asked how many of the reconfigured CF cards underwent final testing and sealing on site, and how many did not reach their final destinations before May 10, CenPEG received reports of many precincts failing to receive CF cards in time for poll opening.
While Smartmatic demonstrated during the May 31 visit to its Canlubang warehouse how machine digital signatures protect the data stored in the CF cards, CenPEG believes that “machine digital signature do not exist in the Philippine legal firmament.”
To resolve PCSO accuracy issues, CenPEG has also asked that the House committee subject PCOS machines to vibration and drop tests in a testing laboratory accredited by the Bureau of Product Standards.
Averia also noted that the different PCOS machines have different internal clock settings, a phenomenon Smartmatic said may have been triggered while in transit.
The display of erroneous registered voter count at the PICC where the Comelec held its canvass of Senators and party-list, and at the Batasan where Congress is now in joint session for the canvas of votes for the presidential and vice-presidential positions should also be explained. –With Gerry Baldo and Angie M. Rosales, Daily Tribune