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Poll cheating laid out

LP, UNA accuse each other of plotting THE administration party and the opposition on Sunday accused each other of conditioning the minds of the public that massive cheating would take place in the May 13 elections. The opposition United Nationalist Alliance said the 12-0 sweep being predicted by the campaign manager of the ruling Liberal Party, Senator Franklin Drilon, would be impossible without cheating. Drilon, on the other hand, accused the UNA of conditioning the public that “massive cheating” would take place, particularly in Mindanao, which is plagued by power outages. But Vice President Jejomar Binay, the UNA’s leader, said the possibility of cheating in the middle of a power crisis in Mindanao was a legitimate issue and “not just a baseless agitation.” “If we are talking about mind-setting, then Drilon is guilty of that with his mind-setting 12-0 [prediction]. Is 12-0 possible with the groundswell of support for UNA senatorial bets in the local level?” Binay said. Militant groups on Sunday also expressed fears of cheating after the Commission on Elections was unable to produce the source code for the precinct count optical scan  machines to show that the votes would be counted correctly. ACT Teachers Rep. Antonio Tinio said the “long-standing issue” about the PCOS machines was the lack of transparency of the system. “Without the PCOS source code, there is no way that the voter would know if the one he voted for would be reflected by the machine and that is the basic shortcoming of the PCOS system,” Tinio told the Manila Standard. Source code refers to the programming instructions for counting and canvassing the votes. Although the law requires that the code be produced so that it can be examined by all interested parties, the Comelec has not been able to obtain the programming instructions. “The Commission on Elections keeps on saying the system is transparent but it is not. The Comelec has to have a system that would really protect the integrity of the results of the polls,” Tinio said. Anakbayan chairman Vencer Crisostomo said without the source code release, the public should brace for massive “e-cheating” and manufactured results. “The release of source code is not optional. It is a legal requirement precisely because it is an important safeguard against possible massive electronic cheating. The Comelec should be held legally liable for failing to comply with this requirement,” he said. He said the Comelec should “stop making lame excuses and should stop deceiving the public.” “The Comelec’s excuse that the source code was not reviewed in 2010 is not a defense. It is an admission that they broke the law before and that they intend to break the law again,” Crisostomo said. “The failure could be a deliberate ploy of the Aquino administration to manufacture election results,” Crisostomo added. “Brilliantes and friends had so much time to prepare for contingencies and to troubleshoot; many have raised the issue before. Despite this, the Comelec is only admitting to having this problem only now, a few weeks before the elections. Is the Comelec’s failure a deliberate one to enable the Aquino administration to ensure a manufactured landslide win for its candidates?” Crisostomo said. Crisostomo accused the Comelec of a “continuing yellow bias” and acting as an extension of the administration’s Liberal Party. He said recent opinion polls could also be part of mind-conditioning to give credibility to manufactured election results. “It has been exposed that the Aquino administration essentially controlled the survey firms. Are the Comelec and the Aquino administration now setting the stage for massive cheating? We must be extra vigilant,” Crisostomo said. In a news conference last week, Drilon accused UNA of “mind conditioning” with its predictions of election cheating. He also dismissed UNA fears that the administration would use power outages to cheat. Binay disagreed. “The series of 8- to 12-hour blackouts in Mindanao have already got out of hand and may even be exploited by sinister groups to influence the results of the elections,” Binay said. Binay also dismissed the impact of President Aquino’s high popularity ratings. “Let’s see. This is not a popularity contest. This is based on trust [and] performance,” Binay said. The vice president said a Liberal sweep was highly unlikely given the strong backing of local political parties and the support coming from the well-oiled machinery of the Nationalist People’s Coalition all around the country. “The 12-0 sweep is impossible,” he said. UNA secretary general and campaign manager Toby Tiangco said with two weeks remaining before the elections, the pressure was building on the Liberal Party to employ “creative ways” to cripple the opposition. “The administration party is cracking the whip on local executives—both from Nationalist People’s Coalition and LP—to stop the growing support for UNA senatorial bets at the local level,” Tiangco said. Tiangco said the coalition has received reports from its provincial leaders that local LP leaders were using all kinds of pressure and intimidation against known supporters of UNA. The NPC and LP have forged a coalition on the national level for the administration’s Team Pnoy, but local NPC chapters around the country are supporting up to nine UNA candidates for the Senate,” he said, citing “irreparable cracks” between the two coalition partners. Tiangco predicted the NPC would receive the brunt of the LP pressure because of their growing support for the UNA. He added that with resources and political power at their disposal, LP has the capability of causing severe damage to anyone that stands in their way. “The LP needs to protect their political interest until 2016. Because the alliance between the NPC and LP failed to materialize in the local level, we can expect that the administration party will move heaven and earth to immobilize the NPC machinery,” Tiangco said. NPC officials admitted that their alliance with the administration party had all but ended as far as local politics was concerned. They said they felt betrayed by the administration party and admitted that they can hardly co-exist due to “irreconcilable political differences.”
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