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Strange movements at the Comelec - Rafanan the man?

Rafanan, the ex-future people's Champion in the Comelec


I would have easily gone to the defense of Ferdie Rafanan anytime.


Actually Ellen Tordesilla's allusion to Aquino's "daang matuwid" was unfortunate, in the sense that Comelec being a constitutional body is never supposed to be at the beck and call of the President or anyone in the executive branch.


But outside of that distraction, I have known Ferdi since he was introduced to me by another brilliant UP lawyer, Marilen Ramiro, at the latter's birthday party in Pasay City many years ago.






I have followed his career and easily I would proclaim that he is perhaps the only person in the Comelec who is not corrupt, a great tribute to government career integrity and one who walks the "daang matuwid".


In fact, Ferdie has always lived with the pittance that he receives from Comelec as salary and benefits. Everybody in that office and all outside handlers know that to offer him a bribe would have fatal consequences.


In that party where only straight people were invited, he told everyone around the table "Hindi ko kayang pakanin ang mga anak ko ng perang galing sa pagnanakaw!"


This is why he was always given the runaround at that government office because his being in the legal department, the engine of corruption at the Comelec, has been an oddity or somewhat a contradiction in terms. So the leadership always kept him away from the front dealings, and he has always been made to chase after-the-fact situations, that today, he has again been given a backdoor job - investigating the 2004 and 2007 elections.


He was always made busy but away from any position of any consequential power.


Does that in anyway diminish the objectivity of his superior the incumbent Chairman Brilliantes in downgrading his position? Not necessarily.


Corruption is not just not accepting bribes or compromising integrity for money. I would like to repeat, in this sense I know on a firsthand basis, Ferdie is not corrupt.


Serving as head of the legal department and the ace of former Comelec Chairman Melo has hurt him and his career. He succumbed to the corruption of "power" by acting as the proverbial three monkeys - "see no evil, hear no evil and talk no evil."


My reason is simple. Why did he not uphold the truth in the 2010 presidential and local election?


As a topnotch lawyer, he knew that Comelec waived most of the essential safeguards of the Automated Election Law and the E-Commerce Act in order to accommodate Smartmatic, an American company with Venezuelan flavor.


Instead Rafanan became the staunch defender of Chairman Melo and the chief apologist of the erring and abusive Comelec


First, what good was any 2010 ballot when Comelec allowed Smartmatic to disable the UV-ray reader that was supposed to authenticate every sheet of paper fed to the PCOS machine as being a genuine ballot or not? What would determine also whether a particular ballot were proper inventory assigned to its specific PCOS machine?


Ferdie justified that the ink used by the Bureau of Printing could not be read by the PCOS machine. Smartmatic argued that the ink used by the bureau was not according to oits specifications. (I suspect walang kita ang bureau wiseguys doon sa Smartmatic ink.) So the Comelec disabled the internal UV-ray reader of the PCOS machine and ended up spending more than P30 million more to buy hand-held UV-ray readers to validate codes printed with the ink used by the bureau.


But then again, not one of these handheld UV-ray readers was also used by the election precincts on election day. Its use by the school teachers was wittingly or unwittingly not ordered by Comelec. (I would suspect "deliberately overlooked").


I personally made random visits of more than sixty precincts in Metro Manila and as far north as Bulacan and south as Laguna. The common answer of the school teachers were 1) Hindi ho kami tinuruang gamiting ang instumento na yan. (We are not taught how to use the handheld instrument.) 2) Wala hong order na gamiting yan. (There was no order to use it.)
3) Ano ho yung handheld UV ray reader na sinasabi ninyo? (Sir, what handheld UV-ray reader are you talking about?)


The Philippine Computer Society and a separate OFW election-watch group organized by Vic Barrios also observed that the precincts were not using the handheld UV-ray readers. In other words, the PCOS machines could have been fed xeroxed ballots and it would have still read them.


Second, the Comelec again by written instruction, ordered the disabling of the digital signatures for the transmission of elections results. In fact, when asked by the PCOS machine if the deputized election officials from precinct to municipal to provincial levels wanted to supersede filtering its entries by not entering their digital signatures, the Comelec instruction was to press the "yes" response button.


Not only by law, and especially in Philippine government transactions, what do you call anything on paper that does not bear any signature, digital or actual? Even the ATM machine will not transact with anyone who does not give his Personal Identification Number or PIN that serves as one's digital signature.


Huwag nang sa batas, by sheer common sense na lang, dear reader, would you consider such as an official document? But mind you anything that is duly authenticated with a signature even if written on a toilet paper, has probity and can be accepted in a court of law.


In advanced countries like the United States, fax transactions are authenticated by the marks of the sending machine. Emails are also official because it can be traced to your IP address.


Wikipaedia defines Internet Protocol (IP) address as"a numerical label assigned to each device (e.g., computer, printer) participating in a computer network that uses the Internet Protocol for communication. An IP address serves two principal functions: host or network interface identification and location addressing. Its role has been characterized as follows: 'A name indicates what we seek. An address indicates where it is. A route indicates how to get there.' "


Well, the Comelec honored precinct counts from ballots not authenticated by UV-ray readers and accepted transmission of election returns without digital signatures. In fact they proclaimed all officials from senator down to congressmen, governors, vice-governors, provincial board members, mayors, vice mayors and municipal councilors on the basis of these two glaring and substantial anomalies, not to mention about a dozen other systemic and a hundred other actual violations by comelec not just of the 2010 Automated Election Law, but also of the E-Commerce Act of the Philippines.


Don't take my word for this, google the findings of the Philippine Computer Society and the UP Center for People-Empowered Governance (CENPEG). You can start with these two lead from Rene Azurin of BusinessWorld.

 
On the same basis, Comelec also facilitated the national board of canvassing's final tally and proclamation of Noynoy Aquino as president and Jojo Binay as vice president.


A whole nation cheered in the fastest Comelec count ever in our history. But sans authenticated ballots and transmissions without digital signatures, what was really counted?


All those tallies could have been processed from a single laptop with Interior and Local Government Secretary Ronaldo Puno infront of it with his fingers in its keyboards.


How was this most probable? Official election results were already being broadcast way ahead of the closing of the precincts nationwide!


How was this made possible? By Comelec's default of its solo and sacred mandate of being the only government agency authorized to conduct elections and count the results. Look at the Philippine Constitution.


In short and in the crisp words of UP Dean Melvin Magallona, Comelec outsourced the 2010 elections to Smartmatic, a foreign corporation.


The irony of it of course is that Ferdie cannot investigate the 2010 election violations. He was a major player in it.


(By the way in his "Hail to the Chief" privileged speech before the joint Senate and Congress acting as national canvassers, Senator Nene Pimentel exposed all these nefarious acts. Not a single premise of his eloquent demolition of the 2010 election was not true and valid. But nampuga, look at the title of his discourse, he nevertheless voted to proclaim Aquino and Binay. What a democrazy!)


But what can he do to extricate himself from this historical faux pas that has led us to a constitutional crisis that the establishment is in denial of and restore his once un-sullied reputation?


First, do a good and quick job at investigating the 2004 and 2007 elections! Afterall a lot are already common knowledge.


Second, blow the whistle on the 2010 election!


Otherwise, the present Chairman, Brilliantes, who was the election lawyer of the those who found themselves in the opposition after the 2010 proclamations, will never take him seriously. Sorry na lang, as Erap would say "weather-weather lang yan!"


If he extricates himself of being a "co-conspirator", he would always serve as my nominee to succeed Brilliantes as Comelec chairman. I am not kidding, until this stain caused by his loyalty to former Chairman Melo and not the Filipino people and the cause of truth, Ferdie is clean.


But if he ducks this patriotic opportunity, he will never be anybody in the Comelec or anywhere in government, he might as well retire his post and go to private practice. I am sure many think tanks worldwide will have space for his expertise.


Rafanan, you the man!


ADO PAGLINAWAN
Washington DC

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