What’s holding PH from having a smooth automated election?

Marje Pelayo   •   May 16, 2019   •   1292

2019 midterm elections at Commonwealth Elementary School, Quezon City (Rodel Lumiares/PVI)

MANILA, Philippines – It took the Philippines 18 years before it finally applied the automated election system (AES) in 2010, the time when Benigno Aquino III was named the country’s 15th President.

The plan to fully automate the electoral process was raised in 1992 by then Commission on Election (Comelec) Chairman Christian Monsod during the term of then President Fidel Ramos.

Speaking to UNTV News, Monsod explained that the main purpose of automation was to expedite the election process and to make the job easier for the Commission.

“The vision is really to have the returns faster. It’s two – accuracy and speed. Those are the two objectives,” Monsod said on Thursday (May 16).

In 1996, the election in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) was declared a success.

It was then that the computerized election system in the country was pilot-tested using the technology provided by a U.S. company American Information System, Inc.

In December 1997, Republic Act 8436 or “An Act Authorizing the Commission on Elections to Use an Automated Election System in the May 11, 1998 National or Local Elections and in Subsequent National and Local Electoral Exercises, Providing Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes” was signed.

However, it was applied only to specific areas like Lanao del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi and not to the entire Philippines.

During the term of former President Joseph Estrada, poll automation did not push through.

In 2004, the administration of then president Gloria Arroyo awarded the P1.3B poll automation contract to Mega Pacific E-Solutions but the Supreme Court (SC) nullified the contract due to irregularities in the bidding process. A complaint against then Comelec Commissioner Benjamin Abalos Sr., other commissioners and executives of the Mega Pacific E-Solutions was filed in relation to the contract but the case did not prosper due to lack of probable cause.

It was in 2008 that Smartmatic-Sahi Joint Ventures entered a contract with Comelec as the provider of the Direct Recording Electronic (DRE) Technology while the Active Business Solutions Inc. and Avante International provided the Optical Mark Reader (OMR) Technology.

The said technologies were applied in the ARMM elections that time but several glitches manifested.

In 2009, the contract for the 2010 presidential elections was awarded to Smartmatic-TIM, the same technology provided tapped in the succeeding polls in 2013, 2016, and this year 2019.

This preference to Smartmatic raised doubts and questions to the credibility of the election process.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III, for one, suggests that Smartmatic must be replaced by a different technology provider.

 “Matagal na noong January pa (ay) sinasabi ko na yan. Ang problema noong nag-privilege speech ako (ay) nakapag-award na ang COMELEC. Remember, kasi napakadaming problema,” Sotto said.

(I have been reminding them, ever since January. But then when I gave my privilege speech, Comelec already awarded [the contract]. Remember, there were many problems before.)

The recently concluded 2019 midterm polls was not spared from glitches and problems as many SD cards appeared defective and more vote counting machines malfunctioned as compared to the election in 2016.

But the poll body argues that it is only Smartmatic that passes their bidding requirements aside from the company’s experiences in the previous elections.

Comelec added that this year, not all election materials were provided by a single supplier which, according to the agency, justifies why there were defective supplies.

“In 2016, bundled ang aming bidding…Ngayon iba ang supplier ng makina, iba ang supplier ng SD cards, iba rin ang supplier ng papel at marking pens so doon ang nakita naming problema hindi masyadong nagma-match,” argued Comelec Chairman Sheriff Abas.

What the poll body is looking at this time is whether or not to still reuse the VCMs despite their service in the two consecutive elections. – (with details from Rey Pelayo) Marje Pelayo

NBI warns against proliferation of cybercrimes amid ECQ

Marje Pelayo   •   April 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Scammers are increasingly active these days especially with everyone practically living in cyberspace due to lockdowns in different parts of the world.

In the Philippines, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has warned the public of the rise in cybercrime as the national government’s enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) limits movement outside of residence.

With almost all services migrating online, scammers are taking advantage of online platforms to pursue their schemes.

Such is the problem of Jodel Merjudio who operates an online travel agency.

Merjudio reported to UNTV’s Serbisyong Bayanihan that some scammers created an impostor account of his enterprise’s Facebook page.

It only came to his knowledge when one of his clients told him about an alleged representative of his travel agency who transacted and asked money from that client on his behalf.

Part of the scammer’s modus operandi is to block the clueless victims from its fake page once payment is received.

The victims are then led to Merjudio’s official page to follow up on transactions that the latter had no knowledge of.

“Ang nangyayari, iyong kliyente pag nag-search sila sa Facebook, dalawa ang lalabas na agency. So kami ang nako-contact nila kasi naka-block na sila doon sa scammer page,” Merjudio said.

Jodel said he initially reported the incident to the Philippine National Police (PNP) Region 4A Cybercrime Division.

To assist Jodel, Kuya Daniel Razon contacted Atty.Victor Lorenzo of the NBI’s Cybercrime Division who agreed with Jodel’s initial move of reporting the incident to proper authorities.

The official promised to help Jodel in identifying the perpetrators behind the impostor account and to eventually resolve the case.

“Kunin nila ang mga contact details [ng kliyente] at kung makipag-ugnayan sila sa amin ay iyon kasi ang hihingiin namin (Get the contact details [of the client] so when you come to us, those are the details that we would be asking],” Lorenzo said.

Kokontakin namin sila para malaman kung ano ba ang mode of payment? Paano ang money ay transmitted? Bank to bank? Kasi ang best lead natin kung sino ang nag-create ng fake account ng travel agency (We will ask them what the mode of payment was; how the money was transmitted; and was it bank to bank? Our best lead would be the creator of the travel agency’s fake account),” he added.

Atty. Lorenzo said incidents of online travel agency scams have already dwindled for some time but since the country is under lockdown, scammers have again started to become active online. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

DA, hinikayat ang mga magsasakang hindi makabenta ng produkto na dumulog sa UNTV

Marje Pelayo   •   April 9, 2020

While farmers from other municipality of Benguet are unfortunate in selling their crops, Mrs. Nida Carantes of Taloy Sur will try her luck on this 15th day of enhanced quarantine (3/30/2020) to sell her sweet peas inside Baguio if the authorities will favor her niece to enter. (Clinton Aniversario/PVI)

MANILA, Philippines – Tiniyak ng Department of Agriculture (DA) na tutulungan nito ang mga magsasaka sa pagbebenta ng kanilang mga produkto ngayong umiiral ang enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) bunsod ng nararanasang krisis pangkalusugan.

Ito ang tugon ng DA sa panayam ng programang Get It Straight with Daniel Razon nang dumulog sa himpilan ng UNTV ang hog raiser na si Gaudencio Camaclang dahil nahihirapan siyang ialok ang kanyang mga alagang baboy.

Ayon kay DA Spokesperson Noel Reyes, maaring makipag-ugnayan ang mga magsasaka at maging mangingisda sa UNTV upang maiparating sa Kagawaran kung anong uri ng produkto ang kanilang iniaalok at kung saang lugar upang makuha o mailapit sa mga mamimili.

“Iyong mga may kailangang ma-harvest na at walang merkado, tamang tama po iyan dahil maibebenta po natin iyan sa ‘Kadiwa ni Ani at Kita’ (stores) dito sa Metro Manila at sa mga urban centers, sa mga villagers,” pagtiyak ng opisyal.

“Ipagbigay-alam lang sa inyong programa kung ano iyong (produkto) saang address, at gaano karami. We’ll link them directly sa mga buyers,” dagdag nito.

Ang mga magsasaka sa Region 4A o sa mga bayan ng Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, at Quezon (CALABARZON) ay maaring makipag-ugnayan kay DA Regional Director Arnel De Mesa sa numerong 09175082455 at 09087574547 upang mapuntahan ang kanilang produkto.

Samantala, sinabi ni Reyes na kinikilala ng Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-IED) ang kahalagahan ng food security lalo na sa kasalukuyang hinaharap na health emergency dahil sa banta ng coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“They approved na dapat kasama sa national security ang food security dahil alam ninyo naman na sa pagdi-distribute pa lang ng pera ay medyo may kaguluhan na. Lalo na kung gutom na ang tao,” saad nito.

Tiniyak ng DA na walang dapat ikabahala ang publiko dahil sapat ang pagkain sa bansa sa kabila ng umiiral na ECQ.

Subalit nakiusap ito sa mga lokal na pamahalaan na huwag harangin ang paghahatid ng mga produktong pagkain upang ang mga ito ay agad na makarating sa mga mamamayan.

“We reiterate na marami po tayong pagkain. Ang naantala lang po ay iyong distribution,” pahayag ng opisyal.

“Kaya nakikiusap kami sa mga LGU sa barangay na kung pagkain ang laman ng dyip o truck ay huwag nang harangin. Let (there be) free flow of goods,” pagtatapos nito.

Sa mga may nais iparating sa mga ahensya ng gobyerno, maaring makipagugnayan sa UNTV Serbisyong Bayanihan sa mga sumusunod na numero:

UNTV donates face shields to NCRPO

Aileen Cerrudo   •   March 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — UNTV on Friday (March 27) donated 100 face shields to the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).

The 100 face shields will be used by the NCRPO personnel manning the quarantine-controlled checkpoints in Metro Manila.

NCRPO Director PMGen. Debold Sinas admitted that the Metro Manila Police lack personal protective equipment (PPEs).

The NCRPO previously used improvised face shields made of acetate as protection for the policemen working as frontliners against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

He also said that the donation of UNTV and other private sectors is a huge help in their operations during the enhanced community quarantine.

“Pasalamat kami sa UNTV dahil nag-donate sila ng face shields (We are grateful to UNTV for donating face shields),” he said. AAC (with reports from Lea Ylagan)

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