‘It was service’-A A +A
Sunday, February 24, 2013
CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama finally answered the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) fact-finding inquiry on the use of government properties during the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) proclamation rally last Feb. 12.
Comelec Provincial Election Supervisor Eddie Aba confirmed he received the letter from Mayor Rama last Friday.
He said that Rama invoked the local government unit’s role in providing basic services to the people. This was also what the mayor told reporters when pressed about the issue.
UNA rented 19 Kaoshiung buses for a total of P10,000 during the activity.
But there were other Cebu City Government vehicles seen to have ferried materials to the stage placed at the Plaza Independencia.
Part of the job?
“His defense was that it is the local government’s duty to make preparations for the coming of the vice president (Jejomar Binay); he was only performing his duty as local chief executive,” Aba told reporters yesterday.
That included peace and order, traffic management and other basic services.
There were no witnesses who submitted affidavits against UNA, though, despite the pronouncement of Comelec that sworn statements
would be needed.
Aba said he will be forwarding Rama’s reply and some newspaper articles to the Comelec legal division in Manila, the department that will evaluate the documentary evidence.
If the department finds probable cause that an election offense was committed, it could order an investigation or issue an order to prosecute the case.
As to the members of the Regional Public Safety Battalion seen holding umbrellas for officials during the Liberal Party (LP) rally, Aba said the commission is doing a fact-finding inquiry.
The provincial office can start its own inquiry even without the directive of the regional office as that is part of its job.
“We’re still in the process of getting evidence,” Aba said. He gave election updates on behalf of Comelec 7 Director Temie Lambino during the Summit on Credible Cebu Elections 2013.
He gave a picture of how tough it would be to cheat by rigging the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS). It would take a person about seven years, he said, to unlock the code of the machines. It would be comparable to unlocking a centillion of keys, Aba said; that’s the 35th “llion” in the series starting with million, billion, trillion, quadrillion.
Also during the summit, the University of the Visayas School of Law presented the common offenses during the 2010 automated elections, which was recorded by the People’s Movement for Change.
Not one of the 22 problems pertains to cheating with the use of the PCOS machines.
One observation, though, was that 56 PCOS machines malfunctioned in three cities and 15 towns in Cebu.
“This means that almost half or 40.9 percent of the voting centers monitored experienced problems with the PCOS machines,” the working paper read.
Aba said he also shared people’s concern over the possible manipulation of compact flash (CF) cards.
But he assured summit participants that this can be avoided because the PCOS units and CF cards undergo “testing and sealing” seven days before the elections and in the morning of Election Day.
In Cebu during the 2010 elections, the people’s organization noted that three voting centers in Cebu, Mandaue and Bogo Cities had problems with the CF cards.
“One was defective and another did not have data stored. In Bogo City, a CF card got lost upon manual delivery to the city board of canvassers,” the report also stated.
“But people will also have doubts and it doesn’t have to be a bad thing, so that people will not be complacent,” said Aba.
Other problems noted were the delayed start of voting and difficulty in finding the names, and some irregularities in the voters list.
There were also allegations that some members of the board of election inspectors were partisan.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on February 24, 2013.