SC urged: Don't let Comelec destroy CF cards

Posted at 05/17/2010 6:43 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Losing presidential bets Sen. Jamby Madrigal, Nicanor Perlas and JC delos Reyes on Monday asked the Supreme Court  to intervene in the destruction of thousands of compact flash cards used in the May 10 automated election.

In a joint petition for temporary restraining order (TRO), the three candidates said the compact flash (CF) cards could be used to determine if the polls were rigged or not. A Commission on Elections (Comelec) resolution earlier required the Boards of Canvassers to delete data on the results of the final testing and sealing (FTS) of the CF cards.

“Should all said CF cards be destroyed and all said FTS data be deleted, the Filipino people, including all three petitioners who ran for President in the last elections, will never know what went wrong with the CF cards and what caused discrepancies between the vote totals electronically transmitted to the different Board of Canvassers and the vote totals appearing in the printed election returns,” the petitioners said.

The three bets said they received reports that discrepancies in the automated vote count in last Monday's elections were caused by the saved FTS results in the backup memory cards. "Despite protocol for the FTS, some board of election inspectors inadvertently saved the FTS result in the back-up memory card, and the City/Municipal Board of Canvassers used said back-up memory in uploading direct to the Consolidation and Canvassing System the untransmitted precinct election result," the petitioners said.

The Comelec and poll machine supplier Smartmatic-TIM ordered a nationwide recall of the CF cards six days before Monday's poll after system tests showed that the cards caused the precinct count optical scan (PCOS) machines to commit errors in reading the votes for local positions.

The Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG), meanwhile, issued a call to form an independent and impartial body that would review and assess the automated election system and investigate alleged poll irregularities.

It said CenPEG volunteers recorded a number of glitches related to the automation process during the May 10 polls, including:

  • Malfunctioning, shutting down, and even destruction of PCOS machines, compact flash cards unable to function, paper jams, and power outages in many areas;
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  • Failure of transmission from the clustered precincts, forcing board of election inspectors to bring the CF cards or even PCOS machines to the municipal canvassing centers for manual transmission.
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  • Delayed canvassing and random manual audits (RMAs) in many areas with the results of completed RMAs remaining undisclosed

CenPEG said Comelec should disclose how many of the 76,340 clustered precincts were able to conduct a final testing and sealing (FTS) process before voting started on May 10.

It also questioned how Comelec Chairman Jose Melo could start reading before the media the first transmitted results of the elections at 6:30 p.m. May 10 when the polls were to be closed at 7 p.m.

"Comelec should explain the discrepancy in the 'first transmitted results' from Western Samar and Zamboanga Sibugay when the first transmissions were officially registered from a different province at 7:30 p.m. Western Samar was able to transmit results only on May 14," the group said.