Archive for automation

I’m Still for Automation in 2013

Posted in Politics and Politicians with tags , , , , , on May 24, 2010 by Ruffy Biazon

We just concluded another session of the hearing in Congress regarding the 2010 Elections. Incidentally, the hearing is entitled, “The May 10, 2010 Automated Elections : An Assessment “.

This means that the hearing is convened not just as a venue for those complaining about alleged election fraud. It also serves to see how the Automated Election System, Smartmatic and Comelec performed in the recent elections. That’s why I’m participating in the hearing, not to complain, but to do an assessment coming from the point of view of a candidate and policy maker.

As I was going out of the hearing room, I was asked by a reporter, “Sir, do you still think that we should automate the elections in 2013?” My immediate answer is “Yes, I think we should still automate the elections in 2013!”

The reporter seemed to have been expecting a different answer. “Sir, aren’t you concerned that with all of the allegations coming out in this hearing, there will be cheating again in 2013?” She added that with the critical questions I’ve been asking it seemed that I was against automation.

“I want automated elections”, I said. “With the manual system, I already know there’s cheating and it’s difficult to control that because at every step of the way, there is human intervention. And that’s the dangerous part, human intervention.” I went further to tell her that all we need to do with the Automated Election System is to put into place additional safeguards and correct its flaws in order to become more reliable and secure. If we can design it in such a way that there is least opportunity for human intervention, it would be good for us.

I further reminded the reporter that at this time, all we are listening to are allegations of fraud which have yet to be pursued through the legal processes and proven as actually having occurred. “We should look at these hearings as an opportunity to answer questions that could either clarify issues or improve the system.”

I believe the best time to do the evaluation is immediately after the elections where the interest and desire to look into the issues are still high. If we let months pass by, it will surely be relegated to the dustbin of our memories and remain unresolved, only to be pulled out again as an issue that needs to be addressed at the last minute before the next elections.

I would like to see automated elections in this country succeed. That is why I’m asking my questions during these hearings because I want it to be implemented in the next elections. I don’t want to give naysayers a reason to say that the system is a hopelessly flawed system and therefore, the justification to go back to the manual method.

With only about a month left in my term, I would like to be able to do my part as a policy maker, an overseer of the people’s interest in Congress, and earn my pay by doing my duty up to the very last day. This is not about whining after a defeat. It is about doing my sworn duty and contributing to the security of the next generation’s future.


My Suspicious and Malicious Mind Smells Something Fishy With the Pullout of TIM From Poll Automation

Posted in Governance, Politics and Politicians with tags , , , , on June 30, 2009 by Ruffy Biazon

The local partner of the consortium which won the poll automation contract for the 2010 elections suddenly and mysteriously pulled out of the consortium, effectively putting a monkey wrench into the first fully automated elections in the Philippines.

After a very tedious and lengthy process which was the most transparent procurement process in the government’s history, participated in not just by government agencies such as the COA and the Ombudsman but by NGOs and other civil society organizations and election watchdog groups, the Filipino partner backed out from the contract two days before its final signing.

Throw in all the time and expense involved in the passage of the law authorizing the automated elections and the appropriations that accompanied it, the emotional debates which transpired in Congress and the public discourses that occupied the headlines and airwaves for months, the billion-peso contract is now in danger of not pushing through.

The logical question of course, is “WHY?”.

While there were those who supported and worked for an automated election in 2010, there were also those who expressed apprehension and even opposition to it. Some were merely afraid of the unknown, since automated elections are an entirely novel idea in the country. Some were afraid that it would only result in automated cheating. But I’m sure there were some who did not want a departure from the old system, where cheating was already elevated not only to a skill but to an art where unscrupulous individuals earn and immoral candidates win.

So my suspicious and malicious mind is wondering…could there have been an unseen hand which caused the retreat of TIM from the contract? That after failing to stop the procurement process through machinations and manipulation, a final act had to be done a couple of days before the signing of the contract in order to prevent automation?

It is a curiosity why a winner to a historical multi-billion peso contract will back out at the last minute after surviving the selection process. My suspicious and malicious mind tells me there’s a gun pointed to someone’s head.

The excuse given by TIM is that due to “irreconcilable differences”, they had to back out. They are saying that they had wanted to back out a long time ago, but they hung on in the hope that it will work out. They say that certain agreements were not arrived at so, two days before the contract is finalized, they back out.

In other words, they are saying that they entered into the process and sought to get the contract without having settled matters between their partners. They have effectively sabotaged the automation of the elections.

I say the government should look for ways to penalize them. They should not simply get away with this without suffering the consequences. They have been highly irresponsible in their conduct and have caused loss to the government not just in financial terms but in the cause of cleansing the election process.

This matter should be investigated thoroughly.