A string of failures

A string of failures"Why is the government still dealing with this IT company?"



My family has not observed Undas in 10 years. A long time ago, we used to walk a long distance in observance of All Saints’ Day—walking from Ateneo de Manila University, where we parked our car, all the way to Loyola Memorial Park where our dear departed were.

We also visit our dead on their birth and death anniversaries.

Undas is actually a practice we Filipinos borrowed from Mexico. Mexicans don costumes associated with the dead and go around in grotesque outfits.

When we used to stay at the memorial park for a long time, we had a big tent to shield us from sunlight or rain. Our family prepared food for lunch and dinner. A brother-in-law even had a commode! I enjoyed marking Undas in those years.

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Six months after the 2019 midterm elections, the media and the general public have moved on to current and not-so-newsworthy controversies.

This is good news for one information technology provider which, according to sources, is now worming its way into government deals despite its past failures.

Last May, mainstream and social media were abuzz with reports about faulty Voter Registration Verification Machines. The main complaint was that the VRVMs supplied by this IT provider had an alarmingly high 68-percent failure rate. Santa Banana, due to this unacceptable failure level of unreliability, the use of these machines was eventually scrapped!

Effectively, the Commission on Elections threw away P900 million of taxpayers’ money on these defective contraptions. Can you imagine how far that amount would have gone if used for other purposes?

Rafael Gutierrez, an IT expert, underscored this failure of the Comelec and rightfully pointed out the risk of entering into further contracts with a historically unreliable company such as this IT provider.

Gutierrez made this assertion because of the disturbing fact that despite the staggering failure of these machines last May, the IT provider is still being considered by the Philippine Statistics Authority to establish the critical National ID System!

After the Comelec fiasco, Gutierrez is concerned that the PSA may be the next victim of this firm. My gulay, in the end, it will not even by the government agencies who will be on the losing end—it is us, taxpayers! Why entrust a project of this magnitude and importance to a company with a spotty track record? Wala na bang iba? Aren’t there any other choices?

Citing a Comelec IT performance report on the technical failure rates of the VRVM during the May 2019 elections, Gutierrez detailed the various points of failure of the provider.

“Users were not able to log in using their smartcards readership. This points to poor quality of the supplier’s smartcards and smartcard readers,” he said.

In Caloocan, for instance, 607 out of 841 VRVMs were not used or did not function. This is a considerable 72.16 percent. In Quezon City, 940 out of 1,487 or 63.21 percent did not function. Region VI was particularly bad—In Iloilo, the failure rate was 86.12 percent, or 2,215 of 2,572 VRVMs.

Nationwide, failure was at 68.14 percent. Out of 27,747 VRVMs, 18,906 were not used or did not function.

Gutierrez further revealed that the IT provider failed to deliver in another country as well. Estonian police supposedly sued this company for $178 million for security flaws found in the citizen ID cards it had produced. Don’t citizen ID cards sound like National IDs?

It is important to note that Estonia is renowned as a country with the most digitalized e-government.

According to newspaper reports, vulnerabilities to hacker attacks found in government-issued ID cards supplied by the European company made for an embarrassing setback for Estonia. A real blackeye!

This IT provider’s fatal mistake was to create private key codes for each individual government ID card instead of embedding it on the card’s chip as promised. This cost-cutting measure, however, exposes the owner to cyber attacks. Understandably, the Estonian police is treating the matter as a “very serious breach of contract.”

The PSA should really give this IT provider a hard look.

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Santa Banana, what a double whammy!

Surveys showed the Philippines was fifth worst in the impunity index with the highest number of journalist killings.

The second whammy is that traffic in Metro Manila has been deemed the world’s worst, according to navigation app Waze.

The Palace continues to deny the culture of impunity against media.

And then, the finding on traffic is hardly something to be proud of. Imagine, when my wife and daughter had lunch with a friend in Quezon City, it took them three hours one way!

Air traffic is just as bad. I am glad that finally, San Miguel will get to build its new airport in Bulakan town in Bulacan.

Topics: Undas , All Saints’ Day , 2019 midterm elections , Voter Registration Verification Machines
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