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Ninez Cacho-Olivares

Not keen on the search for truth

Wednesday, 01 June 2016 00:00 Published in Commentary

Predictably, Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista quickly dismissed the allegations of cheating made by three whistle-blowers, accompanied by Pastor Boy Saycon, during a press conference held at the Senate Monday.
Bautista questioned the three who said they were witnesses and participants to the automated fraud in Quezon province, saying: Why only now did they surface?”
Should that point really matter, especially if Bautista and his commissioners are truly after ensuring that no fraud, whether manual or automated and if there was fraud, wouldn’t they be interested in knowing just how the fraud was committed, if only to ensure that such a method can be stopped altogether in the next elections?
But no, instead, Bautista said that the first time he learned about these whistle-blowers, he thought it was a case of “too late the hero.”
To stress, why should Bautista see this expose — whether factual or not — as “too late the hero?”
But there Bautista went again in a radio interview, saying: “Why did they surface just now? If they really had the evidence and proof of the fraud, why did they surface only now, when it’s already the last week of May, or three weeks after the polls?
But why should whistle-blowers present themselves to Bautista and the Comelec, since Bautista has the reputation of quickly dismissing any suspicion of fraud or manipulation of the count?
While the transparency server of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) was being questioned, there went the Venezuelan Smartmatic official, Marlon Garcia, who already has a record of tinkering with the vote count and even the compact flash cards in the 2010 presidential elections, where CF cards were replaced less than a week before election day. And in 2013, Garcia was caught tinkering with the machines also, and now switching the hash codes and apparently even providing different SD cards for fraudulent purposes, if one goes by the story of the whistle-blowers.
Yet what did Bautista do even when Garcia was caught red-handed switching the hash code and where the votes counting a million, were suddenly lost in the dead of the night? Why, he went along with what Garcia gave as an excuse, claiming that the switch was just a cosmetic change of characters, from the “?” replaced with an “ñ.”
It was only Bautista, it is said, who held the password. So why did Bautista give out the password to Smartmatic and quickly absolved Garcia and Smartmatic?
The fact that the password was given to Smartmatic indicates that Bautista, who is apparently the sole password keeper, knew just what Garcia was about to do, which means he was aware of what Garcia intended to do, which also means, he intentionally kept his commissioners in the dark.
Did Bautista even check whether Osmeña’s ballots had a “?” instead of an “ñ”?
He merely dismissed the claims, and did not even bother to conduct an investigation or an audit.
Bautista is hardly the person to whom any whistle-blower of automated fraud would go, with not only an expose, but more importantly, even provide the poll chief with the evidence for safekeeping, giving his instant dismissal of fraud.
If, while the count in the PPCRV transparency server was ongoing, and the switch of hash codes was being done, Bautista dismissed these claims of the whistle-bowers even when the switch was discovered while the count was ongoing.
If he didn’t think it irregular of Smartmatic to tamper  with the hash codes, why should Bautista be expected to give these witnesses of an alleged vote shaving fraud his time of day when he really doesn’t give a damn about hash codes switches?
So he gets Smartmatic to announce that what the witnesses say was fraud is impossible to be committed with the machines. Really? Were all the VCMs accounted for?
But said Bautista: The Comelec implemented all security features of the automated election system, as required by the law. One of these is issuing voting receipts as ordered by the Supreme Court.
Then he adds: “If there was really this kind of cheating, they should have surfaced earlier.”
Hell, if Bautista truly wanted to know whether there was fraud committed, the thing he should not do is to dismiss these whistle-blowers as “too late the hero.”
They may be telling the truth, or they may be lying through their teeth. But what if they are telling the truth? And if they have the evidence, Bautista lost his opportunity to prove that he doesn’t brook any tampering of the VCMs and the fraud involved.
But maybe he doesn’t care that those who are set to seat in public office are not the choice of the electorate?

Horse trading up in Senate

Tuesday, 31 May 2016 00:00 Published in Commentary

Sen. Alan Cayetano obviously wants the Senate presidency, as much as Sen. Koko Pimentel.
There are others of course, who eye the same top seat, and are no doubt already working to get some senators’ support for their bid.
But Cayetano goes to the extent of creating the impression that, as he is closest to Rodrigo Duterte in the Senate, he is the chosen one, mostly done to get the senators to elect him as Senate president. He says he has 15 senators who had already committed to him. Cayetano has always been into propaganda, mainly filled with lies.
Pimentel, for his part, has a different approach, using his party as the ace in getting the top Senate post.
Both, however, know that senators are not like the congressmen, who swear allegiance to the Malacañang tenant, but these senators will vote for whoever gets the probable number of at least 11 to 12 senators.
At this time, it is unlikely that either will have the numbers, especially as the two allies are both after the Senate presidency. It will be a reprise of the time both Franklin Drilon and Kiko Pangilinan were fighting for the Senate presidency, and ended up losing it, with Sen. Juan Ponce-Enrile, who wasn’t even in the running but who had a bloc behind him, winning the top post.
What is more likely to happen is the greater number of senators that will gravitate toward the candidate that has the near-numbers to clinch the top position, and the candidate that can offer these senators really choice positions, such as, but not limited to, the role of the majority floor leader and the really important committee chairmanships, especially the Senate blue ribbon committee, finance and means and ways.
The presidential elections, however, have caused too many divisions. A lot of harmful statements have been uttered by several senators against their chosen presidential bets, and even among vice presidential bets to be easily forgotten by certain senators, which may be a factor in their loss of support from their colleagues.
In the running are Senators Tito Sotto, Drilon, Cayetano and Pimentel and each appears to have blocs supporting them, which may result in one bloc joining the other bloc to get the numbers — except for one thing: By way of conditions, which combined bloc gets the Senate presidency, which can be very contentious.
Still, it really all depends on how two blocs, in trying to unite, want to see a more independent Senate, which incidentally was what the Senate was during the time Enrile was its president.
Naturally, when Enrile resigned from his post, and Drilon took over, the Senate was hardly run as an independent body, as the Senate behaved more like an adjunct of Malacañang, with Noynoy Aquino, a Liberal Party chairman, with an LP official as the Senate president.
Noynoy has just about 30 more days in Malacañang, and the LP force is no more with so many of its congressmen shifting their alliance to Duterte and his PDP-Laban.
The loyalty to the man in Malacañang and his chosen congressman to become speaker, Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez, ends when a new president enters the picture, which can happen in six years, or earlier, should the incoming president Duterte be impeached, resigns, is permanently disabled or dies, in which case, if a protest from Sen. Bongbong Marcos against incoming vice president Leni Robredo does not flourish in the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, then the LPs will be back in power and position, with Robredo as president.
And yes, without a vice president, Robredo, as president, will have to choose from a member of the Senate to be her appointed vice president.
There is a problem in this scenario however. Should Duterte resign, die, is permanently disabled, impeached, or even ousted by the usual Edsa mob types, the timing should really be important, else, if it would be an ouster by the yellow mob or if impeached, the time element is also important. If it comes too early, such as over two-and-a-half years, Robredo will go the way of Gloria Arroyo who had all of nine-and-a-half years in the presidency, which may not be a good thing for the Filipino people, who easily get tired of their presidents when they fail to deliver on their promises and political instability arises.
If such a scenario of an elected president on his way out under constitutional rules — along with the Supreme Court’s amendment of the Constitution where even “constructive resignation” due to the mental and emotional state of the sitting president over the threat of being ousted though a people’s revolt and merely based on an unauthenticated diary written by a third person, and presented to the court as newspaper clipping — again, the right time is of the essence.
Just hope that whoever succeeds a sitting president before his time is up, to ensure that the vice president gets only to finish the term of the impeached, dead, resigned or constructively resigned president, which means after four years.
Oh, if this scenario comes about, whoever is the elected Senate president, will be out as well.
And so the horse trading cycle begins again.

Welcome to the Wild Wild, West

Monday, 30 May 2016 00:00 Published in Commentary

Davao City  Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has not as yet taken  his oath of office, but already, the country has taken a strong Wild West flavor, what with policemen suddenly having a surge of killing  suspected drug pushers, claiming everytime that the suspects fired first.
Police shot dead eight drug suspects last week. The killings occurred following repeated calls by Duterte for security forces to kill criminals.
Gunmen on motorcycles also murdered three petty criminals in Duterte’s hometown of Davao, deepening fears of mass extra-judicial killings once the controversial politician begins his six-year term on June 30.
Police insisted the eight drug suspects were killed lawfully, with the officers only firing back after being shot at in three separate raids. One occurred in Manila, another near the capital and the third in a small town in the northern Philippines.
The claim of the police is always that the killings were carried out under the rules of engagement and respect for their human rights, which is the usual claim but the opposite is being done.
In Cebu, Mayor Tomas Osmeña proudly announced that he will be rewarding policemen who kill drug pushers with P50,000 for each suspected drug pusher they kill.
Not surprisingly, a day after the announcement, the police were handed P50,000 in cash by Osmeña, after having killed a suspected drug pusher, whom the police claimed they were set to serve an arrest warrant on him , but which ended in a shootout, since the claim is that the suspect shot it out with them.
That appears to be the easiest explanation given by the cops whenever suspects are killed, and the other side of the story is never heard because the suspects are all dead.
Just the other day, Alex Balcoba, a reporter on the police beat, was shot dead in Manila, the latest addition to the unsolved murders of journalists in the country.
The two gunmen who killed Balcoba fled on a motorcycle after shooting the victim, a la Duterte’s Davao Death Squad (DDS).
President-elect Duterte was quoted as saying that the police who shoot and kill suspected drug pushers, drug addicts, drug lords, rapist and other criminals will not be investigated, even saying that it is not the President’s job to protect human rights. His job is to protect the people from criminals and drug pushers.
By saying that there is to be no investigation of the policemen to kill suspected drug pushers and suspected rapists, and saying too that he does not care about human rights, if he does not know it yet, he has just given the license to kill with impunity, members of the Philippine National Police, which will be under his old bosom cop called “Bato” or the Rock who served him in Davao and who has been expressing the same sentiments as his boss, on killing the suspects.
Duterte appears to have begun the formation of the National Death Squad that will turn this country into a killing field, no doubt about it.
Strange though that the leftist nominee of the Communist Party of the Philippines for a Cabinet post under a Duterte administration, former partylist Rep. Teddy Casiño, in a radio interview a few days back, practically absolved Duterte of being linked to the DDS, saying there was no “smoking gun.”
This is strange because the group to which he belongs, Bayan Muna, is faster than fast in pointing fingers at one who is merely being alleged of committing a crime, yet when it comes to Duterte, who may make him a Cabinet secretary, he speaks of the absence of a “smoking gun,” a virtual echo of the words of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and the Department of Justice Secretary Caparas, both of whom said they  will no longer investigate Duterte on the DDS cases in the absence of evidence.
The fact that the murder cases committed in Davao have remained unresolved and the perpetrators remain unpunished, along with Duterte’s encouragement of such summary killings to continue, while junking human rights, should be enough linkage between Duterte and his DDS. By protecting the murderers, some of whom are said to be cops, there is more reason to link Duterte to the DDS.
But such deaths are not unusual in a nation where the police force has a track record of extra-judicial killings, and show the danger of the situation getting much worse under Duterte, rights group Amnesty International pointed out.
 “We fear an erosion of the rule of law. Once that happens, the Philippines will become a Wild West and become totally ungovernable,” Wilnor Papa, campaign coordinator for Amnesty’s Philippine office, told Agence France Presse.
The Philippines already is on its way to becoming not just the Wild West but also  No Man’s land.






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