Php 70.00 Vol. 47 No. 05 • May 2013 - IMPACT Magazine Online!
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Php 70.00 Vol. 47 No. 05 • May 2013 - IMPACT Magazine Online!

ARTICLESElections 2013:Public exercise,private processThe state has become captive of a private firm byallowing it to have full authority over the technology andthe whole voting process, in effect losing its power toensure that the exercise is truly democratic4 IMPACT May 2013

ARTICLESBy Rhea Veda Padilla / IBONFeaturesThe 2013 elections are over, but thevoting public has yet to get overthe rampant irregularities broughtabout by the automated election system(AES). In fact, voters have becomedisconnected and unable to verify theirvotes, making this year’s elections theleast transparent in the country’s history.Reports of precinct count opticalscan (PCOS) machine malfunctions andproblems were widespread on electionday, affecting the overall conduct ofthe polls nationwide. Massive reportsof machine malfunction, ballot rejectionand unexplained breakdown weremonitored in various precincts acrossthe country. With initial poll results nowbeing released, the public has yet to beassured that the votes cast are beingcounted properly.Among the most essential aspectsof elections are its credibilityand transparency. Unfortunately, theCommission on Elections (Comelec)did not deliver on the most effectiveareas to ensure these: There was noindependent review of the source codedespite calls from electoral watchdogsnor a parallel manual count to verifythe automated results. While doubts onthe credibility of the polls persist, theComelec is quick to dismiss questionson the integrity of the elections. Privatecontractor Smartmatic InternationalCorp., which provided the almostPhp2.6-billion automation system forthe country’s polls for the second time,also called the irregularities “minorglitches”.But the problems encountered inthis year’s elections were the sameones in 2010 when the country held itsfirst ever automated polls, even worseaccording to poll watchdogs. As in thelast elections, the Comelec refused toconduct an independent and comprehensivereview of the source code, whichwould have ensured the reliability ofthe software. A genuine source codereview would have determined howSmartmatic’s technology would readand count the ballots.The supposed source code reviewannounced by the Comelec, done afew days before the elections, becameinsignificant. When mainstream mediarelayed bloated results of the initial tallyon election day, Smartmatic intervenedand edited the source code script tocome up with the proper count. The actof tweaking in the middle of canvassingonly highlighted the deep flaws of thesoftware, and raised more questions onthe trustworthiness of the automatedelection system. It also raised seriousissues on Comelec’s accountability andthe seeming immunity of private vendorSmartmatic.Photo courtesy of Berto Billena, O’CarmVolume 47 Number 055

ARTICLESDiana UichancoPrivatized electionsAs in the 2010 elections, the irregularitiesof the 2013 election also highlightthe phenomenon of “privatized elections”,a term used to describe the wideningrole that private firms play in runningelections worldwide. In the US where allegationsof electoral fraud are rampant,poll groups have criticized privatizedelections as undermining a very publicand supposedly democratic exercise. Otherdeveloped countries like Germany and theNetherlands have reconsidered the use ofprivatized poll automation, which violatesthe public nature of elections. Moreover,IT specialists have cited that 18 out of 30countries that held automated elections returnedto manual elections in recent years.The clear violation of having privatizedelections is the subversion of thepeople’s right to holding a democraticexercise. The process of voting, ensuringthe ballots, proper tallying, consolidating,holding an independent monitoring of theresults, and making government accountfor the elections has been underminedbecause the government surrendered thiswhole process to private firm Smartmatic.But the task of modernizing the polls shouldnot change the public nature of electionsand should retain its fundamental componentssuch as fairness, accountabilityand transparency. With the present setup,however, the state has become captive ofa private firm by allowing it to have fullauthority over the technology and thewhole voting process. The state has alsolost its power to ensure that the exerciseis truly democratic.While ensuring a quick count of resultsshould be a priority, the use of privatelyownedelection technology brings aboutserious problems. Private automation technologybecomes untrustworthy because ofits nature as private property immune topublic scrutiny. It makes the elections morevulnerable to fraud and manipulation—ontop of traditional forms of cheating suchas vote buying and harassment, amongothers. As a US-based policy group noted,it is impossible to establish the legitimacyof poll results without government controlof elections and public scrutiny of theelection process.In fact, reports of anomalies on theelection software and the apparent immunityof private election vendors are not unique tothe country. For instance in Florida, a localcourt ruled in favor of private firm ElectionSystems and Software Company, whichdenied public access to its voting machinesand software for examination because theywere supposedly trade secrets and coveredby privacy rights. In 2008, the SequoiaVoting Systems blocked an independentexamination of its voting machines, whichallegedly reported inaccurate results in alocal elections in New Jersey.US poll groups have described privatizedelections as an example of governmentabandoning its responsibility andwhere elections become increasingly thetask of profit-seeking companies, usingtechnology that cannot be examined.Truly, allowing a private firm to participatein a crucial public exercise such asthe national elections has not broughtabout transparent and credible electionsbut has only worsened the basic problemsof electoral fraud.The modernization of Philippine electionsis undoubtedly an urgent task forthe state. However, this should promotetransparency, credibility and accountabilityin elections, and should not favor onlya few politicians or private profit-seekingelection firms but the general public. I6IMPACT May 2013

Elections 2013: Public Exercise, Private ProcessComelec, Smartmatic should beaccountable for poll woes - EfDBy IBON News" The Commission on Elections(Comelec) and private contractorSmartmatic should not brush asidethe irregularities reported during the May2013 elections." This was the statementmade by network of teachers Educatorsfor Development (EfD).According to the EfD, the outpourof election-related problems reportedlast Monday by poll watchdog KontraDaya belies Comelec Chairperson SixtoBrillantes' claim that the 2013 polls were"generally okay".The group of educators denouncedwidespread accounts of precinct countoptical scan (PCOS) machines' malfunctionnationwide, which composed 60%of all reports that reached Kontra Dayaduring this year's polls. PCOS machinemalfunction cases included failure tostart, sudden shutdown, overheating, andballot rejection. In many cases, the Boardof Election Inspectors (BEIs) and PCOStechnicians had to improvise by usingumbrellas or broomsticks to aid the ballotsinto the machine, or trim down ballots tofit in the PCOS machine.Throughout Luzon, Visayas andMindanao, there were still many casesof disenfranchisement and long queues,as well as complaints about the slownessof the voting process and lack of electionparaphernalia. Disenfranchisementreports ranged from missing namesof registered voters on COMELEC'schecklist to poll centers that suspendedvoting altogether due to defective PCOSmachines."This puts into question COMELEC'sdeclaration on the eve of May 13 that everythingis prepared for this year's automatedelection," EfD said."What is clear is that for the sakeof automation, Philippine elections wasentrusted into the hands of a non-Filipinoautomatic election system company withouta clear-cut independent review of theprogram that ran the PCOS machines, withoutsafeguards that should have ensuredthe integrity and efficiency of the entiresystem," the group commented.EfD was also critical of the quicktweak made by COMELEC and automatedelection system company Smartmatic inface of the erroneous excessive resultsrelayed to mass media at the end of electionday itself."Looking back at the 2010 and 2013elections, a level of speed may have beenachieved but we cannot say that the automatedelection system was transparentor credible," EfD added. It further notedthat cases of electioneering, vote-buying,intimidation, harassment and violencewere still rampant in various parts of thecountry.For EfD, most lamentable is the factthat teachers bore much of the brunt of the2013 election woes. Some public schoolteachers reported that they encounteredproblems up until transmission time: theprocess took a long time; some resultscould not be transmitted due to limitedmodems; and election results could notbe printed. There were also cases whenteachers themselves had to deliver thecompact flash cards to the city hall at theirown expense. Meanwhile, payment ofteachers' allowance for their poll servicehas been delayed, and worse, they have topay for the “cash cards” so they could gettheir allowance."That teachers are being told to payPhp200 each to get their election serviceallowances through cash cards only addsinsult to injury," EfD commented.Up to 240,000 teachers were deputizedto be BEIs for the 2013 polls. The Philippinegovernment spent almost Php3 billionfor additional PCOS machines purchasedfrom Smartmatic and other election paraphernaliathis year.The EfD said that the Comelec andSmartmatic should be held accountablefor the 2013 electoral mess, adding thatthe electoral body should not use Smartmatic'stechnology in the next elections.The group also demanded a thorough andindependent investigation of the failures ofthe automated system. "We are all for themodernization of elections, but not at theexpense of transparency, credibility andaccountability," the group said. I(The Educators Form for Development(EfD) is a voluntary association of educatorscommitted to social transformation.The EfD brings together educators in thespirit of cooperation and fellowship tomake education democratic and pro-people.It promotes transformative educationin pursuit of genuine development, socialjustice and peace. The IBON Partnershipfor Education and Development serves asEfD secretariat.)Photo courtesy of Berto Billena, O’CarmVolume 47 Number 05 7

ARTICLESlead to murder charges was jaw-dropping.Such a charge meant the declaration, muchless recognition, that ‘terminating a fetus’is murder. Even though it hinged on thewill of the mother, or maybe especially so.Because it focused the attention on whatit means to end a human life, and it was awatershed moment.As we awaited the jury’s verdict inthe Gosnell trial, the newly incarceratedCastro faced aggravated murder chargesfor terminating pregnancies.Based on the facts of the case, authoritiessaid they intend to seek charges not only forthe sexual assaults endured by the victims,but also “each act of aggravated murder hecommitted by terminating pregnancies.”That alone is a startling statement.Think about what “each act of aggravatedmurder he committed by terminating pregnancies”means. We were already thinkingabout the idea of murdering babies inthe Gosnell trial before this news broke.Monday, the Gosnell trial jury returnedtheir verdict. Guilty, of murdering babies.A 72-year-old doctor whose abortionclinic was described by prosecutorsas a “house of horrors” was convicted offirst-degree murder in the deaths of threebabies born alive.Dr. Kermit Gosnell was acquitted ofkilling a fourth baby during a late-termabortion in a dirty clinic that served mostlylow-income women and teens, and wentyears without a state inspection.There’s a saga contained within thosetwo sentences. The horribly filthy clinicrequired that the grand jury visiting itprior to the trial wear Hazmat suits. Howwas it not shut down by authorities a longtime ago? Because a long time ago stateauthorities stopped inspecting it, a nationwideproblem with abortion clinics. Andnote that this ‘house of horrors’ servedmostly low-income women, minorities andminors. It was far worse than despicable.Prosecutors said Gosnell deliveredthe babies alive and killed them by cuttingtheir spines with scissors.He was also convicted of manslaughterfor the death of one of the womenwho suffered terribly at the hands of thisabortionist.The verdict does not satisfy all critics.Some time before the decision was announced,Pastor Luke Robinson, who waskeynote speaker at the 2012 March for Life,told The Washington Times, “The wholehealth department of Pennsylvania shouldbe on trial for allowing these atrocities.”Law enforcement officials raided Gosnell’sabortion business in 2010, believing hemerely ran a “pill mill,” dispensing prescriptionsfor narcotics to make a quick buck. Whatthey found shocked and nauseated them.Inside his “house or horrors,”…theyfound unsanitized equipment that transmittedSTDs between patients, urine- and bloodsoakedrecliners for post-abortion “recovery,”and dismembered fetal body parts…The violations filled a 250-page GrandJury Report. During his closing argument,Cameron dramatically asked Gosnell, “Areyou human?”The atrocities unfolded with the tacitpermission of numerous levels of authorityin the government, as well as within thehealth care and abortion industries.Addie Mena / CNAIt has caused some prominent or highprofile‘pro-choice’ advocates to reconsidertheir beliefs, starting from their verypremise, and the idea of what abortion is.And then there are entrenched abortiondefenders, as this CNN piece reveals.They admit the Gosnell case is terrible…But that doesn’t mean it sets a precedent,CNN legal analyst Paul Callan said.“The testimony in this case was sographic and so horrific. It was describedliterally as a house of horrors taking placein this Philadelphia clinic,” Callan said. “SoI think that most objective observers willsay that ultimately this will be an isolatedcase, hopefully, and that it’s simply a casewhere prosecutors had to act. It had nothingto do with being pro- or anti-abortion.”Yes, it did. And no, it wasn’t an isolatedcase. The two are related, as the recent LiveAction undercover videos from several abortionclinics reveal. Gosnell was no aberration.We have arrived at a point where we’renot only reconsidering the reality and terminologyof abortion, but the realities ofhuman life itself. And the importance ofmaternity to a woman’s identity.Some mothers have become used toapologizing for “just” being stay-at-homemoms. At social gatherings, a woman canbe introduced as a mother only to receivethe stunningly obtuse follow-up question,“Do you work?”Women representing different strandsof feminist thought, including those whodistance themselves from any type offeminism, struggle with this tension. Ihad a unique experience of this severalyears ago, attending a conference onmaternal feminism at Barnard College inNew York. Participants were challengedto see if they could agree that, for manywomen, maternity is a defining part oftheir identity.We are at a defining moment. The civilrights movement has extended into today’spro-life movement and it just gained moreground by fate or providence than it couldhave by addresses and marches and witnesses,as much as they have continuedto advance the cause of human life anddignity. That it happened by horrible highprofile crimes against humanity was astonishingand unforeseen. But not unimaginableafter forty years of experiencing thelogic of abortion carried out, and what itreally was all along. I(With permission, this article is lifted fromMercatoNet)Volume 47 Number 0511

NEWSFEATURESThe highest dam in China ‘will harm nature.But we will build it all the same’BEIJING, China, May 16,2013—The Chinese Ministryof Environment has approvedthe project for the constructionof the highest hydro-electricdam in the country, although ithas at the same time recognizedthat this decision "will harm thelocal ecosystem."The dam will be 314 metershigh (compared with 185m of the Three Gorges) and willbe built on the Dadu River, inthe southwestern province ofSichuan. The project is calledShuangjiangkou.Announcing the decision,the ministry added that theenvironmental impact surveysshow that the dam will damageboth the flora and fauna andeven put the natural reserves ofthe area at risk. But it stressedthat "counter-measures" willbe taken to mitigate the effects.The company that holdsthe contract is called the GuodianGroup and is state-owned:according to forecasts it shouldcomplete construction in 10years, for a total cost of about24.7 billion Yuan (about 2.7billion euro). The company hasbeen in the sights of the centralgovernment because, in 2011,it began the construction of 21projects that had not yet beenapproved by the competentbodies.The practice is quite commonin China and demonstratesthe close relationshipbetween the industry—publicand private—to central andlocal political spheres. Eventhe Huadian Group, the largestoperator in the energy field inthe country, began constructionof the hydrological plantin Hangdeng without waitingfor permission from the government.The "thirst" for energycontinues to devour the country,which depends on everyenergy source available to keepindustrial production—and thusthe gross domestic product—atthe growth rates of recent years,thus above 7 percentage points.China has no natural oil butimports it from anyone willingto sell; for the remaining energysupplies the government focusis still on coal mines and dams.(AsiaNews)Taiwanese students promote "friendship" with Filipino immigrantsTaipei, Taiwan, May 23, 2013 - A groupof good-willed Taiwanese students havelaunched a campaign to show supportfor the Filipino workers in Taiwan. Theyoung people's initiative to raise awarenessis a concrete response to the continuousTV news and the headlines on the mainTaiwanese media, regarding the PhilippineCoast Guard's killing of 65-year old fishermanHung Shih-cheng, and the subsequentinvestigation.Sunday, May 19th a group of studentsmet outside the parish most frequentedby the Filipino community in the centerof Taipei and posted signs of supportfor Filipinos in Taiwan. They were ledby Chun-Li from, an energetic studentwho never tired of repeating that nobodyshould direct their anger towards theworkers. In recent years they have offeredan important contribution to Taiwanesesociety especially in assisting the elderly,children and as laborers on constructionsites."The government and the shooter areresponsible, not the honest workers wehave here" said Li. There are about 87thousand Filipino workers in Taiwan, inrecent weeks there have been reports ofsome abuses against them, so the youngLi has encouraged a number of initiativesand invited everyone to be friendly towardsthe innocent Filipino workers.Meanwhile, on May 20 Taipei andManila came to the agreement to conducta parallel investigation with the Philippineteam that will travel to examine the vesseland a Taiwanese delegation that willtravel to the Philippines and have accessto recordings of dialogues between membersof the Coast Guard and the tests stillavailable about the incident.It all started the morning of May 9 indisputed waters between Taiwan and thePhilippines, when the Philippine CoastGuard fired 52 shots on the Taiwanesefishing vessel to stop the boats engine. Thewww.asianews.itflurry of shots killed Hung Shih-cheng.While the incident was considered an accidentby the Philippine government andnot the result of self-defense, it has causeda strong reaction in Taipei which speaks ofcold-blooded murder because as many as24 bullets were found in the cockpit andthe vessel was unarmed.Tension rose following Manila's refusalto apologize, while past incidentswere dragged up in the public memory.In the absence of an official apology fromthe government of Manila, Wednesday 15May, the Taiwanese government issuedeleven punitive measures, including thetermination of the issuance of permits toFilipino workers, Taiwan's representativeto Manila was recalled and AntonioBasilio, the Philippines representativeto Taiwan was invited to return to thePhilippines. Luckily the initiative of theyoung students of these days brings withit a note of constructive reconciliation: itis hoped that the whole affair will find asolution for justice and reconciliation, withdue compensation to the victim's familyand a clear definition of the rights to thefishing in the sea between Taiwan and thePhilippines, to avoid similar incidents inthe future. (AsiaNews)www.asianews.com14IMPACT May 2013

NEWSFEATURESKunming, hundreds of people take to streets against oil refineryKUNMING, China, May 17, 2013—Hundredsof people are protesting in Kunming(Yunnan) against the construction of anew refinery. Ignoring the threats of thelocal government, which has banned alldemonstrations, the people poured intothe streets front of the headquarters of theprovincial government, challenging thepresence of a large police cordon.The protest was held yesterday, butthe news appeared in the media just thismorning. So far, police have arrested oneprotester. The protest started at 14.00 andlasted for several hours, until the authoritiesopened a mediation.This is the second time that the populationof Kunming has taken to the streets in protestagainst the local government. May 4th inthousands of people blocked the city to ask forthe cancellation of the project which involvesthe construction of an oil refinery about 30 kmfrom the city, in the town of Anning.The plant owned by the China NationalPetroleum Corporation will producemore than 10 million tons of refinedmaterial annually, releasing dangerousFilipinos in Taiwan told to lie lowTAIPEH, Taiwan, May 17,2013—The Philippines todayadvised its nationalsliving in Taiwan to stay athome or commute directlyto and from work to avoid"hate assaults."Amadeo Perez Jr., headof the Manila Economic andCultural Office in Taiwan,said that "tension is high" afterthe shooting of a Taiwanesefisherman by the PhilippineCoast Guard last week."We advise Filipinosnot to leave their homes asmuch as possible," Perezsaid in an interview. Severalinstances of discriminationagainst Filipinos havealready been reported andan attack against a Filipinoin the city of Kaoshiung hasbeen confirmed, Perez said.The attack happened onWednesday when a man wasstruck on the arm with a batin Kaoshiung City. He wastaken to hospital, Perez said,and police are reportedlyinvestigating.carcinogenic "paraxylene" hydrocarbonsinto the air. The residents also object to thehuge water consumption of the massiveproject, which would increase the droughtthat has hit the province for several years.In recent months, the authorities inKunming have tried to convince the populationof the limited impact of the plant, butthey refused to publish reports of its environmentalimpact by invoking state secrecy.After yesterday's protest, Li Wenrong,mayor of the city, promised to improve thegovernment's transparency and to listen tothe demands of the public, opening up awebsite to raise questions. The mayor saidCongressman WaldenBello meanwhile called onthe Taiwanese governmentnot to put the blame on Filipinoworkers for the "inadequacy"of the Philippinegovernment’s response to thedeath of the Taiwanese fisherman,who was killed after hisboat entered disputed waters."Their unilateral movesare certainly not contributingto the resolution of this currentdispute," Bello said. "It is simplyunacceptable for Taiwanto leverage their grievanceagainst Filipino [workers]."Government data showsthat some 93,000 Filipinoswork in Taiwan as factoryworkers or domestic helpers.Taiwan has already issueda series of sanctions onthe Philippines after the May8 shooting, including a stopto the hiring of Filipino workers,the recall of Taiwan's defacto ambassador to Manila,and a call on Taiwanese nationalsnot to travel to thePhilippines. (Ucanews)that the project also depends on the reactionsof public opinion, but rejected the ideaof some protesters to hold a referendum."In our country there is no precedent ofvoting, so it is very unlikely that it will everbe authorized," explains. Li has scheduleda meeting with city representatives on 22May, but said he will not respond to questionsabout the cancellation of the project.Chinese people and civil society areincreasingly rebelling against the pollutionthat is ravaging the country. Peopleexchange information especially throughthe internet and social networks. In 2011in Dalian thousands of protesters demonstratedagainst a chemical factory, forcingthe authorities to impose a heavy fine on anoil company that has polluted the Shandong.The case of Wukan (Guangdong)exploded in September 2011, which sawfor the first time a sort of victory of thepopulation over the central power, which inrecent years has prompted several leadersof villages and towns to seek mediationwith the people instead of repression.(AsiaNews / Agencies)Top court issues warning on internet lawwww.asianews.comNEW DELHI, India, May 17,2013—India's Supreme Courthas warned state governments tofollow federal guidelines stipulatingthat people who post "objectionablecomments" on socialnetworking sites should not bearrested without prior authorizationfrom senior police officials.The court is currently examiningthe constitutional validityof a law that allows policeto arrest people sending "falseand offensive messages throughcommunication services," suchas the internet. Violators canface a three year jail term forthe offence.The guidelines, set down bythe federal government in January,say that a person suspectedof violating this law should be notarrested without permission froman officer not below the rank ofInspector-General in metropolitancities and not below the rank ofDeputy Commissioner or Superintendentof Police in districts."We direct the state governmentsto ensure compliance withthe guidelines before makingany arrest," the Times of Indiaquoted Supreme Court justicesB S Chauhan and Dipak Misraas saying yesterday.The Supreme Court wasyesterday hearing a petitionchallenging one such case.Jaya Vindhayal, the generalsecretary of rights group,People’s Union for Civil Libertieswas jailed on Monday afterbeing arrested by a low-rankingofficer in Andhra Pradesh.She had allegedly madecomments on Facebook thatoffended several politicians.The federal government’sguidelines came in the wake ofa high profile case in Novemberlast year that drew internationaloutrage.Two girls were arrestedfor posting comments criticizinga local political party inMaharashtra over the funeralof its founder Bal Thackeray.(Ucanews)Volume 47 Number 0515

The uautoCOVERSTORY16 IMPACT May 2013

COVERSTORYelection was a shocker; we counted waytoo fast, great—but, some say, and theyare saying it still in the highest tribunal,not accurately enough.This second automated election isreturning us to old habits with a terriblevengeance. Politicians had three years tostudy the electronic process neo-coloniallyimposed on them, and engage I.T. “experts”in their dirty employ. What should havetaken seconds to have election resultstransmitted to the national center has nowtaken hundreds of hours—days, a week,more—with resultant gross inaccuraciesthat can hardly be corrected. Suddenly,Philippine elections in 2013 becameexactly like computer war games playedby children with the difference that thesewould not be for mere entertainment butfor inflicting serious damage on the credibilityof COMELEC, the integrity ofthe electoral system and the viability ofPhilippine democracy. Imagine the resultsof the party-list contest being accidentallydeleted with apologies from Smartmatic!That’s what you read in the papers Friday,same day some would-be senatorial victorswere not so bashful about being proclaimedsuch on the basis of a little more than aquarter of total number of votes accountedfor.The election body was in panic.Their duty it was to count accurately andproclaim winners according to the rules.For an automated process it was takingway too long; so, they said they were goingto rely on faxed results instead. No, theywere not saying we were going back tocounting with our fingers and toes. Givea few days more and more people wouldbe asking the inevitable. What happened?What is happening?Long before the May 13th polls,politicians had already been purchasing“jammers” and ensuring they had miniaturecomputer gadgets with “bluetooth” capabilities:jammers to wreak havoc on radiosignals in order to prevent transmittingelection results before they could edit thoseelection results in their favour. Go to anInternet Café for demonstration purposes.Have bluetooth and see what is happeningall around you. If you are techie enoughyou can change things around.Going back to the polls, if in agiven place only one political I.T. fellow“played,” he or she could function like avacuum cleaner whopping up the votesoriginally cast for others without resistancefrom the unknowing latter. This was commonin Leyte and other parts of Region 8.One veteran party-list vacuum-cleaned abig farmers’ group systematically that apattern of devouring the votes was quiteunmistakable on closer look, after thedastardly deed was done. And this notto mention a technical probability thata source code could be programmed tobehave according to the dictates of theprogrammer, maliciously or otherwise.For example: if the farmers group hada thousand members in one area who couldshepherd two other family members orfriends for a total of three thousand votesin that area, bluetoothed enemy veteranparty-list competitor would reduce thethree thousand farmers’ votes down to 200or less while appropriating for itself some2,800 votes that were originally meant forthe farmers’ party list.Pedro, a waiter at a local restaurant,said that he and seventeen other relativesand friends voted in the same precinctfor the farmers’ party-list whose leadersoften came to meet at this place and whosecause to recover the coco levy funds theyardently espoused. The election results ofthe precinct, however, showed not 18 butonly two votes cast for the party of theirchoice. They were sure they were robbedbut they did not know how, nor did theyknow immediately that others were, too.What could they do now about their disenfranchisement;where would they go tocomplain, and would there be any remedyat all for so terrible an injustice that mayhave been done thousands of times overacross the vast and lengthy Philippinearchipelago? Would the COMELEC allowa precinct level physical audit on the mererequest of some coconut farmers?Wasn’t the COMELEC the sameagency whose Chairman announced theelectoral disqualification of the farmers’group without producing a collegial resolutionto that end but surely to maim anddisable the farmers’ campaign that hadalready gathered great momentum? Whywould he do this, farmers naturally asked,and then they remembered: the COMELECChairman had been for many decades theservant-in-law of the man they recentlybeaten in court to cough up 73 billionpesos now in government’s hands for theexclusive benefit of the coconut farmers.The farmers knew the style too well.For instance, he had “abandoned” cocobank but continued to control it, to borrowfrom it in extremely liberal terms, and inother ways behave like its owner becausehe could cause the appointment of his boysto the management of that bank. Wasn’this political party crucial to the viabilityof any administration?Elections 2013 was scary. His hopemay have been to continue to control the73 and more billion pesos that he had beenforced by court to surrender. But the farmerswere now beginning to have their ownindependent voice, and taking their courtvictory seriously by seeking to have theirdirect say in the legislature; so, why notnip their efforts in the bud – disqualifythem from the party-list route to Congress?Impossible? Easy? Well the COMELECchairman was the key. And he proved tobe such a very useful key, indeed.The struggle is far from over. Mondaynight the farmers saw 397 thousandvotes for their party-list in both PPCRV andRoy Lagarde / CBCP Media18IMPACT May 2013

The Unbearable Stench of an Automated Election SystemNAMFREL’S StatementWith the transmission ofElection Returns (ERs) atCOMELEC’s TransparencyServer being stalled at 76.3273% asof 5:41 PM on May 17, Friday or fivedays after the May 13 voting, a lot ofapprehension is going around overCOMELEC’s plan on how it willaccount for the remaining 23.6727%missing ERs. This has not been madeeasier by the proclamation of the 9leading senatorial candidates based on“untenable figures ” - the proclamationwas made on the basis of 117 out of304 expected Certificates of Canvass(COCs).The COCs are the summary of thetotal Election Returns of a provinceor of a chartered city, which form theofficial and legal basis for the proclamationof winning candidates. Rightnow, the low turnout of the COCsbeing served to the National Board ofCanvassers is due to the incompleteor unaccounted ERs. NAMFRELexplained in an earlier press releasethat the probable causes of unavailableERs are PCOS malfunction, corruptedCF cards, transmission failure due todefective or absence of modem, andweak or absent signal, among othercauses.The question begging to be answeredis, what is the plan of theCOMELEC to account to the publicthe remaining 18,504 ERs, estimatedto contain at least 8.5 Million votes?COMELEC is enjoined to sharewith the public the status of theseERs: Were the CF cards brought tothe Municipal Board of Canvassers?Were the ballots counted manually atthe precinct and an ER prepared? Werethe ballots counted manually at theMunicipal Board of Canvassers andan ER prepared? Were there manualcounts at the Municipal Canvassing orProvincial Canvassing sites?In another light, NAMFREL’sSystems Group is wondering howcome there were still transmissionof ERs coming in 4 days after theclose of polls? From where are theseER figures being sent, when PCOSmachines are supposed to have beensealed by this time? The problem oflow signals may be discounted sincethe telecom companies have statedthat signals were available in all thesites. If and when the transmission tothe transparency server resumes, fromwhere are these ERs being sent? Arethe contingency plans for this event(if any) being followed?The lowest percentage of ERstransmitted to the COMELEC byregions is ARMM at 34.9% of 3,124ERs; next is Region IX transmitting62.2% of 2,968 ERs; following closelyis the Cordillera Administrative Region(CAR) which transmitted 62.31%of 1,828 ERs.The issue appears to be the callfor transparency in explaining wherethe votes of the 8.5 million votersare, if they will find their way to theNational Board of Canvassers. Call tomind that the Philippines has alwaysadhered to the principles of free andfair elections.All things remaining unexplained,there are still two remainingsafeguards at the backend of theautomated election system that willnot only crosscheck the numbersyielded by the PCOS machines butwill also, if done right, fill the gap leftby the 23.67% unaccounted ElectionReturns: firstly the result of the parallelmanual count (assuming this hasclear methodology, that the unit ofthe count are the precinct ERs, andthe figures can be disaggregated byregion, by province, by municipalityand by precinct), and secondly theresults of the post—count RandomManual Audit in 234 randomly selectedprecincts in as many congressionaldistricts. The Parish Pastoral Councilfor Responsible Voting (PPCRV) isauthorized to conduct the parallelmanual count from the 3rd copy ofthe ER (and cascading other copiesof other documents) as one of thefour COMELEC’s citizens’ arm. TheRandom Manual Audit Committeechaired by the PPCRV Chairpersonis responsible for summarizing andanalyzing the results of the RandomManual Audit. The public waits. IMay 17, 2013Roy Lagarde / CBCP MediaCOMELEC tally for partial returns. Theirelation was short-lived because afterwardthe computerized transmittals went crazyand COMELEC, as earlier mentioned, hadto stop canvassing. The next day, Tuesday,was disheartening for the farmers who sawonly 70,000 credited on their end. A littlelater, their leaders reported that they gotmore than that number of votes in Magindanaoprovince alone. So, the farmersdecided to make their own tally, straightfrom the ground and are now preparingthrough their lawyers to make the properinterventions when the formal canvassingstarts, whenever it can at last. In electionspast they easily got more than thatper individual national federations. Nowthat the three big national federations hadconfederated into one, much more wasunderstandably expected.The farmers now go to the high tribunalagainst their having been disenfranchisedso arbitrarily in a disqualification announcementnot backed by collegial action,which, however, was sure to follow becauseof pakikisama among boys belonging tothe same club.The whole experience so far got themreflecting on the true nature of Philippinedemocracy today. It is the rule of Moneygiving the moneyed few over-all sway onthe polity of the land. It used the action ofthe Many (universally known as PeoplePower) to topple down the earlier rule ofthe Gun (that was equivalent to Dictatorshipor Monopoly). If the ballot route willalways prove not viable for the majoritypeople’s aspirations, surely the time willcome when the people may take anothermore effective route. More than any otheragency, the COMELEC must be held responsible.IRoy Lagarde / CBCP MediaVolume 47 Number 05 19

STATEMENTSCBCP Pastoral Exhortation On the Celebration of theNational Consecration Of our People and our BelovedLand as ‘Isang Bayang Sumisinta kay Maria’On June 8, 2013, Feast of the Immaculate Heart of MaryBeloved People of God in the Philippines:A few months ago, the Catholic Bishops’Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)with the Pastoral Message, “Live Christ,Share Christ!, Looking Forward to ourFifth Century of the Coming of Christianity,”set in motion our observance of the“Year of Faith” (YF) in the Church inour country, as well as fostering of “TheNew Evangelization” (NE) proclaimedby the Holy See.Our past months have been marked bythe joyous canonization (21 October 2012)of San Pedro Calungsod; by the October2012 Bishops’ Synod held in Rome onthe New Evangelization (NE), and – justnow – the recent election of Pope Francisto succeed Pope Benedict XVI who, – outof his loving and noble concern for thegreater good of the Church resigned forreasons of age and failing health. Tied upwith this succession of remarkable events,we have noted a notable increase in interestand even enthusiasm regarding “what’snew in the life of the Church” among ourCatholic people. We take all this as also asign of the Holy Spirit’s inspiring of ourcommunities, and it adds greatly to oursense of Easter joy.As a notable event in our own Year ofFaith, we have already announced that theCBCP has marked 8 June 2013 as a dayof a nationwide National Consecrationby our Catholic Faithful of our people andour country to the Immaculate Heart ofMary. The CBCP has directed and urgedall our dioceses and parishes, schools andother institutions, even all our families, ofcourse, – to offer solemnly a joint publicact of entrustment to the Blessed Mother,Mother of our people and our country.We wish to do this as truly one people,“from Aparri to Jolo”: formally re-affirmingthat our country is indeed “puebloamante de Maria” – bayang sumisintakay Maria: a people truly loving Marythe Mother of Jesus the Lord, a people ina true sense “made one” by this love anddevotion which we bear, by God’s greatgift, to the Mother of God.This solemn act of entrustment andconsecration, we have said, is part of ourYear of Faith observance, and part of thenine-year (“novena”) preparation for the2021 celebration of the coming of theChristian Faith to our land in 1521 – fivehundred years ago. But we hold in ourminds and hearts even deeper grounds forthis significant forthcoming event.Consecration to the Immaculate Heartof MaryWe have before us the acts of entrustmentof the world, of all its peoples andnations, by Popes of our time, from PopePius XII in 1942, to Blessed Pope JohnPaul II, who five times during his longpontificate made and renewed this placingof all of humankind under the mantleof the Blessed Mother, consecrating theworld to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.This entrustment was inspired by Ourblessed Lady’s words to the children ofFatima and the enduring message of OurLady, still truly relevant for our time. (PopeBenedict XVI). Our Lady promised thatthis consecration, freely and firmly offered,would bring grace for conversion from sinand of sinners, protection from the “menaceof evil and war; from sins against life andthe dignity of God’s children; from everykind of injustice and trampling of God’scommandments; from “the sin of the world,sin in all its manifestations ...” (John PaulII’s prayer, 1984)Memorably for us, our PhilippineBishops, representing all of us Catholicsin our land, – all joined Pope John PaulII – who in Rome, before an image ofOur Lady of Fatima – and with him allthe Catholic Bishops of the world in theirown dioceses, offered the world-wideConsecration to the Immaculate Heartof Mary on 25 March 1984.During an entire “Bimillennium MarianYear”, beginning 8 December 1984and culminating on same date in 1985,we begged our Blessed Mother’s intercessionto bring us true freedom andpeace, at a time when our people wereundergoing great stress and suffering andnear-hopelessness under the dictatorship.The “peaceful People Power Revolution”of February 1986 came as God’s answerto our prayers and longings, – so we areconvinced—through the intercession ofthe Immaculate Heart of Mary. Memorablyagain, on 3 December 1987, as anact of joyous thanksgiving, we renewedour Consecration to the Two Hearts, theSacred Heart of Jesus and his Mother’sImmaculate Heart, led in our name byCardinals Jaime Sin and Ricardo Vidal.More recently, our Bishops, respondingto our Filipino lay Catholics’ initiative,opened (on 19 June 2009) a “Year of Renewal,of Consecration and Commitmentoffered to the Two Hearts,” and ended itsolemnly with an Act of Consecration tothe Heart of Jesus and also to the Heart ofMary, 11 June 2010. We are certain muchprotection from harm, distress and evilwere given to us through the graciousnessof the “Two Hearts”. Peaceful electionswere held in May 2010, and a new administrationinstalled, with peaceful andorderly transition.Looking at our Present ContextAs the Year of Faith moves forward,we know that there are several situationsof trouble and conflict in our part of theworld. It suffices to name some areas:the “two Koreas”, Sabah, and the WestPhilippine Sea.Within our nation, we know alsothat there are positive gains: the widelyrecognized present economic upturn underour present government’s policies andprograms; equally recognized improvementsand progress in governance, in healthcare, in anti-poverty and pro-educationendeavors; sincere efforts at diminishingcorruption, and more. We are told bysurveys also that genuine hopes for a betterfuture have recently risen among ourpeople. Yes, there is new hope.Yet, just as truly, there remain nota few dark and shadow areas too, likethe ongoing violence and conflicts inMindanao; also the ongoing decades-oldCommunist-led revolutionary movement;the persistent joblessness that daily sendshundreds, even thousands, of our countrymenabroad in search of employment, theunabated wanton destruction of remaining20 IMPACT May 2013

STATEMENTSnatural resources. There are also the recentbitter controversies regarding legislationon “reproductive health”; the threat ofmore bills in Congress to legalize practiceswhich our Catholic moral doctrine holds ascontrary to divine law; the manifestationsof a spreading relativistic mindset in somesectors of our society (the “dictatorship ofrelativism” reaching even us) and its effectsin our own changing lifestyles.And of course, next May, we will havethe coming national and local elections. Weall know that amongst us, election-periodsare so often “trouble periods—and evencrisis-times”—with guns, goons and goldpursuing their destructive doings.Deeper than all the foregoing, a genuine“return to God and turning truly tothe Gospel” and the more authentic livingof our faith, these call us and challenge us,in pursuing our vocation to be truly God’sPeople, to be Christ’s Body in our land.A “practical atheism” (as emeritus PopeBenedict so-often refers to it), secularismand forgetfulness of God and of the Gospelspread more and more in our de factoculture; the wrong elements of so-called“post-modernism and globalization” increasinglyaffect our minds and mindsets,our moral conduct and our lives, aboveall the lives of our young people. On AshWednesday we are told, “Repent and beconverted to the Gospel!”: The Year ofFaith reminds us of this mandate, renewsits summons to true Christian fidelity.What We Resolve To DoWithout developing further the issueswe must face, the tasks we must undertakeas the demanding labors of the NewEvangelization for us, the Church in ourcountry, we see why our leaders, ordainedand lay, our Bishops first of all, are urgingus to renew once again – more earnestly,more deeply, with greater preparation—our Consecration and Entrustment tothe Immaculate Heart of Mary, as wellas—necessarily accompanying it – ourrenewal of consecration to the Most SacredHeart of Jesus.As part of our Consecration to the ImmaculateHeart, there are also the adjointpractices of (1) the Mass and Communionof Reparation on the First Saturday of eachmonth, and (2) Prayer and Penance, in ourdaily lives offered also by us, in unionwith Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart. Asmuch as possible, the daily recitation ofthe Rosary will be the ongoing-practice ofprayer asked of us. We are reminded thatthe Fatima message teaches the “immensepower of the Rosary” for faith-life in theworld of grace.With this Pastoral Exhortation wesend out to you a booklet prepared for us,which sets down (1) the specific pastoralactivities and programs which can befollowed and activated in each diocese,parish, local school or other institutionsand which (2) develops briefly and clearly,we hope, some theological reflection onthe Consecration to the Immaculate Heartand accompanying practices of spiritualityand devotion.We are also sending out the postervisually representing and fostering theprogram of these events, an image of the“Madonna and her motherly mantle”(the Schutzmantel Madonna), an iconof Mary known and loved in Europefrom long ago, but locally “inculturated”for us. Fr. Armand Tangi, SSP, the wellknownPauline priest and religious artisthas created this image for us, from hisVolume 47 Number 05 21

ASIABRIEFINGBANGLADESH. Tragedy sparks callfor retail accountabilityAfter the collapse of a garmentfactory in Bangladesh which killed atleast 1,127 workers, demands for betteroversight from Western retailers aswell as local manufacturers have beenwidespread. “The question is whetherU.S. importers have an obligation to dosomething about working conditions inother countries,” Edward J. O'Boyle,senior research associate with MayoResearch Institute, said. He pointedto John Paul II's 1981 encyclical“Laborem Exercens,” where the latepontiff said that labor's effect on theworker is more important than both itseffect on the product and on profits. OnApril 24, the eight-story Rana Plazacollapsed in Savar, near the country'scapital of Dhaka. Since the tragedy,some 300 similar factories have closedfollowing worker unrest. (CNA)LEBANON. Chaldean patriarch warnsof division due to surge in Iraqi violenceThe patriarch of the Chaldean CatholicChurch in Baghdad denounceda recent series of car bombings andshootings in Iraqi cities that left atleast 54 people dead and dozensmore injured. Patriarch Louis Sako,told Catholic News Service in an emailMay 20 that the current violence isbetween minority Sunni and majorityShiite Muslims, who also run the Iraqigovernment. Christians are not beingdirectly targeted, he said. "But theyare afraid and their exodus continuesnevertheless," Patriarch Sako said ofIraq's Christian population. "The moraleof Christians in the area is down,"the patriarch said. (CNS)INDIA. Christians to bring aid to SyrianrefugeesThe Indian Christians mobilize fortheir confreres in Syria which hascaused since the beginning of thecivil war more than 90,000 victims andrefugees continue to increase. TheSyrian Christians are suffering alongwith the population because of displacementand poverty, and it is estimatedthat over a million and a half Syrianshave emigrated. Due to this situation,the Jacobite Church in Kerala, linkedto the Syriac Orthodox Patriarchate ofAntioch, has launched a collection ofhumanitarian aid for the assistance tothe Christian communities in Syria. Allthe communities of the faithful in Keralaare contributing to the collection, led byCatholicos Baselios Thomas I, leader ofthe Jacobite Church in India. In the comingweeks a delegation of the Churchwill carry out solidarity mission in Syriaand will deliver the aid. ( Christian pastor arrested duringprayer serviceThe Christian Pastor, Robert Asserian,of the Protestant denomination"Assembly of God" was arrested May21 in Tehran during a prayer meeting inhis church. As reported to Fides by theNGO "Christian Solidarity Worldwide"(CSW), the church could be forced toclose by the end of June. The securityforces broke into Asserian’s home andconfiscated some of his personal effects,such as computer and books.They then went to the church andarrested the Pastor who was leadinga prayer meeting. The Christiancommunity had already denouncedin recent months intimidation by thesecurity forces. Pressure on IranianChristians has intensified in recentyears, especially towards communitiessuch as the "Assembly of God",offers services of worship in "farsi" (thePersian language). (Agenzia Fides)JORDAN. March of prayer for the Syrianbishops kidnappedMore than two thousand peoplecrossed Amman May 21 with candlesin their hand to pray for the releaseof the bishops and priests kidnappedin Syria and ask for the gift of peacethroughout the Middle East. The marchof prayer started from the Greek OrthodoxCathedral of the Presentationof Jesus in the Temple until the SyriacOrthodox Church of St. Ephrem, passingby the Catholic church of St Maryof Nazareth, at the Latin Vicariate.The march with candles, convenedone month after the kidnapping of twobishops of Aleppo - Syrian OrthodoxMetropolitan Mar Gregorios YohannaIbrahim and the Greek Orthodox Boulosal-Yazigi, kidnapped on April 22was led by heads and representativesof Churches and ecclesial communitiespresent in Jordan. (Agenzia Fides)JAPAN. PM Abe willing to meet KimJong-unJapanese Prime Minister ShinzoAbe said he might meet with Kim Jongun."If a summit meeting is deemedas an important means in consideringways to resolve the abduction issue, wemust take it into consideration as a matterof course in negotiating with them,"he said on May 15. Between 1970 and1980, when North Korea was ruled byKim Il-sung, grandfather of the currentdictator, it abducted 17 Japanese citizens.In 2002, North Korean authoritiesadmitted kidnapping 13. Five were senthome and the remaining eight weredeclared dead. For Pyongyang, thematter was settled; for Tokyo, it wasnot. For years, Japan has demandedmore information. (Asianews)UZBEKISTAN. Religious freedomdenied even in Uzbekistan's prisonThe relatives of some jailed Muslimprisoners of conscience have told Forum18 that it is not possible to pray inthe prisons of Uzbekistan. Accordingto the sources, anonymous for fear ofpossible retaliation, prisoners "cannotopenly pray, or read any Muslimliterature, even the Koran MukhammadakmalShakirov, head of the InternationalRelations Department ofthe state-controlled Islamic ReligiousLeadership, denied the allegation,insisting that "in all Uzbekistan's prisonsconvicts are allowed to pray orread the Koran if they want to" Yet,many witnesses from various religiousbackgrounds have said that in prisonreligious freedom is under tight control.(Asianews)Volume 47 Number 0531

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