Last Monday night in Tina Monzon Palma’s Talkback, we learned that the problem that bedeviled the 2010 elections has not only been solved by allegedly vast improvements that enhance the capabilities and reduces the vulnerabilities of the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machine’s source code—but that these improvements will not need to be tested anymore. In fact they cannot be.
Last year, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and I—as the co-author who defended the automated election bill on the floor of the House, and as head of the congressional committee on electoral reforms answering continuing questions and allaying fears about the vulnerability of automated elections—offered anyone who cared to do it the opportunity to review the source code that would animate and dictate the operation of automated election machines, from Venezuela, called PCOS. Not PIKOT.
The source code was by law deposited in the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas. The law requires that it be reviewed by an expert foreign party; it was. And by any local party who cared to review it. The only takers of this offer wanted to take home the source code or they would not bother to review it. We refused and that was the end of it. Ano 'to, take-home exam?
We had the elections. While there were protests regarding this or that suspicious result, indicating evident flaws in the operation of the PCOS in this or that locality, the protests were all resolved in that they were all firmly ignored by the succeeding Congress and the Supreme Court.
To be sure, the flaws were noted in the mostly unread yet indisputably brilliant Committee Report on the 2010 elections that I prepared. Real IT experts sang its praises. These flaws clearly indicated some defects in the source code or some vulnerability in the machines that allowed it to override the source code.
Proof of this is that the Comelec announced that it had corrected those defects in its vastly improved 2013 source code.
For example: PCOS machines did faithfully record that ballots were still being slipped into the machines well after midnight at a stunningly invariant regularity of every three seconds as though a robot was doing it for all the late voters.
Even when Comelec took cognizance of a case in Cavite and found fraud, the Supreme Court, after upholding it, reversed itself, leaving the Comelec to come up with the idiotic consolation that anyway, in the next election, the voters will decide again who is the winner.
But the 2013 elections will not decide who was the real winner of the 2010 election for, say, mayor. That crime, so well established and recorded by the PCOS as having been perpetrated despite its avowed safeguards, will never be punished or corrected.
Well, anyway, all that is water under the bridge, as Tina’s guests talked back and assured her that, not only will there be no need to review the source code, but that there is no source code to review.
We are now going to hold an automated election without one. Which is to say, we will be using machines that have no instructions or none that anyone knows of except perhaps those who have programmed the machines to allow cheating. Or not. Quien sabe? As the people who should never have let us go would saw.
A source code is the package of instructions that tells the machine how to operate in a manner that precludes election fraud. If it doesn’t stop fraud, that is only because Filipinos will always be Filipinos no matter what technology is used. Indeed, as our first Comelec Chairman Christian Monsod once quipped, whereas the French are French, which is why manual elections are the still the fastest yet safest to hold, that is true only in France and never in the Philippines.
Anyway, the new source code with its vast improvements, cannot be used for the simple reason that it isn’t ours to use because despite being sold to us by Smartmatic, like the one we used in 2010, it is owned by Dominion, a totally different company which is not allowing us to use it.
So there is nothing to review after all and so nothing to complain about. Isn’t that wonderful?
However, all is not lost because it appears that the source code comes in two parts: the front-end source code and the back-end source code.
These can be likened in toto to a mouth that is fed with marked ballots, the small intestine that adds them up, and the large colon that canvasses the count and excretes the official results.
While the front-end is missing, which is to say the mouth which masticates and can tell by the taste and consistency whether it has been fed food or feces, the rear-end is all there. The rear-end of the source code is functioning perfectly well in canvassing what it is incapable of discerning as either genuine or fake votes which were shoved directly down the throat of the machines—bypassing the mouth that is missing. Like addressing cancer of the tongue but not of the colon, it calls for a medical specialist in the field like Gus Lagman.
So there you go, daan matuwid, the straight path is the shortest route, and an alimentary canal that is missing one part is shorter by that much from one that has both.
How did the Comelec let it come to this? Simple, it has bigger fish to fry. For example, suppressing freedom of religion and freedom of speech: two birds with one stone so to speak.
Comelec has threatened the Church to stop expressing its views—via tarpaulins in its own churches—on the issue of birth control. The Church has hanged out to dry lists of names that should not be voted for by the faithful.
This is the only meaningful way a religion can still address the issue of birth control after the issue was resolved by both houses of Congress and signed by the president into a law mandating birth control.
The Church has the right, and indeed if it’s a serious religion, it has the iron obligation to instruct the faithful on who to reject at the polls for having voted birth control into law.
The Comelec insists that the Church cannot do that because a religion is confined to privately murmuring prayers. A religion cannot extend to the social and political spheres via activities like vilifying the enemies of its teachings.
A religion without social and political action is hallucination. Christianity is not about praying to save a soul; to hell with the soul. It is about acting in a way to prefigure and advance the establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven on earth; e.g., by adopting only laws that advance rather than thwart its doctrines.
Even Buddhism, which teaches that all life is illusion, nonetheless teaches also that an illusory life lived badly ends up reincarnating into another illusory life that is even worse for the one who lived it; such as an ass reincarnating into its hole.
Far from being contemplative, Buddhism brought down the United States in South Vietnam by the self-immolation of its monks. This turned all Vietnamese who were not collaborators, that is to say Catholics, against the Americans and their puppets.
Today, Buddhism is loudly advocating religio-cleansing southern Thailand of Muslims, like the Serbs tried to do in Bosnia.
Such activities, short of slaughter, are protected by the Bill of Rights as the exercise of freedom of speech, which includes action at the service of religious conscience. There you go.