Damaged cards delay tally: Updating of results suspended
May 12, 2010 (The Manila Times - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Canvassing of election returns (ERs) from some 76,347 clustered precincts cannot proceed after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Tuesday found out that there were some damaged compact flash cards in still unidentified areas.
A compact flash card sends instructions to the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines--the heart of the first fully automated elections not only in the Philippines but also in Asia--on how to read and count the ballots cast.
The canvassing can start only after a 100-percent threshold is met by the commission.
The Comelec, however, issued a resolution that allows regional directors to receive requests for lowering of the 100-percent canvassing threshold down to 95 percent or 93 percent in order to declog the traffic of transmission results from provincial boards of canvassers to national board of canvassers.
Board of Election Inspectors will be provided the user names and passwords to enable them to lower the threshold.
The PCOS machines are programmed such that they would not be able to print a proclamation paper unless the 100-percent threshold was hit.
Pre-proclamation Comelec Chairman Jose Melo also on Tuesday said that the PCOS machines were so programmed to prevent pre-proclamation by candidates.
In order to reach the 100-percent threshold, all PCOS machines under one clustered precinct must work properly to allow results of the canvassing to be transmitted to canvassing centers.
Under the Comelec resolution, the regional election directors can lower the threshold as long as it would not t "affect the standing of other candidates." "The purpose of this is that it fast-tracks the proclamation of candidates and it will facilitate the entry of election results from provincial boards of canvassers to national board of canvassers," Comelec Commissioner Rene Sarmiento said during a press conference.
Melo said that "in a day or so," winning candidates could be proclaimed once the national board of canvassers, which is composed of Comelec commissioners, received the election returns.
Also, with the de-clogging, the commission said that the updating of voting results for president, vice president, senators and congressional candidates of party-list organizations can start again today (Wednesday).
Melo said during an interview that the poll body would fail to proclaim senators and party-list congressmen without knowing the actual percentage of the voting results nationwide.
"It [snag caused by the damaged compact flash cards] delays the whole process," he told reporters.
The Comelec chief then announced that the poll body has decided to stop the updating of partial tally for all national seats.
"Baka sabihin ng tao pino-proclaim na namin ang presidential. Binigyan lamang namin ng konting preview ang public [People may ask why we are already proclaiming the winner of the race for president. We just gave the public a little preview of unofficial results of the race to Malacanang]," Melo explained.
Lawyer Ferdinand Rafanan, the head of the poll body's law department, said that it was not lack of signals that was delaying transmission of vote results from precincts to municipalities and simultaneously to provincial and national boards of canvassers, as well as to the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkasters ng Pilipinas (KBP), the accredited poll watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and the dominant minority and dominant majority parties.
The election returns were supposed to be electronically transmitted to the provincial and national boards of canvassers, the KBP, PPCRV and the Lakas-Kampi CMD (the dominant majority party) and the Liberal Party (the dominant minority party) as soon as the voting results were tabulated.
But up until late Tuesday, there were still unspecified areas that cannot transmit the ERs, not because of the weak signals but because the flash cards that contained the specific information on the precincts and the national and local candidates for those precincts had malfunctioned.
According to Rafanan, there were some text messages that said the compact flash cards installed inside PCOS machines in some areas had conked out.
He mentioned Nueva Ecija and some municipalities in Zambales, one in Pangasinan and one in Oriental Mindoro.
Problematic cards "Kung sira ang [compact flash] cards, di makakabilang ang PCOS machines at hindi ka din makakagamit ng ibang PCOS machines [If the flash cards are damaged, the PCOS machines would not be able to count the votes and you cannot use other PCOS machines]," Rafanan said.
Under contingency plans of the Comelec, any precinct that fail to transmit votes because of problems in the PCOS machines can automatically bring the ballots encased in the ballot boxes to the nearest PCOS machine in the area, insert the specific compact flash card and let the machine count the votes.
But in a situation where the compact flash cards are the ones that are problematic, the cards--with a size of 4GB--should be replaced immediately.
Melo, however, said that there would be no more time to replace the compact flash cards.
And because there remained only a small percentage of uncounted votes in those areas, the Comelec chairman added that he is proposing that Boards of Election Inspectors just conduct manual count for those precincts having problems with the flash cards.
The Comelec early Tuesday said that it has received some 30 million votes, or 78.25 percent of the total votes cast nationwide.
Melo had said that the remaining 25 percent of still uncounted votes represent only some five million votes, although votes in the areas that are having problems with the compact flash cards are yet to be accounted for.
Manual system Also earlier, the poll body warned that some 2 percent of areas nationwide may undergo manual system of counting because of transmission problems and machine errors.
Melo said that in order to start proclaiming winners for the 2010 national and local elections, the commission was looking at lowering the threshold to only 98 percent, especially for candidates commanding a big lead.
With the 98-percent threshold, he added, there will be no more need to wait for replacements of the damaged compact flash cards and instead go on with counting the votes manually and proclaiming the winners.
But Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. also on Tuesday said that the transmission of election results was "successful." As of noon of Tuesday, about 84 percent of the total number of PCOS machines had transmitted results, according to the Comelec.
"Exhaustive preparations prior to the polls enabled us to operate our networks trouble-free," said PLDT and Smart spokesman Ramon Isberto. "While the just-concluded elections were an exciting event for Filipino voters, network-wise, for PLDT and Smart, it was uneventful." Isberto added that networks of PLDT and Smart did not suffer any major outages during the elections. Nor were these adversely affected by power outages in various parts of the country.
Smart's nationwide cellular network provided GPRS connectivity that enabled the PCOS machines to transmit election returns.
Smartmatic, part of a consortium that had bagged the automation contract, acquired about 30,000 SIM cards for use in the PCOS machine modems, of which over 18,300 were used to transmit election returns from different parts of the country.
PLDT provided DSL broadband services for municipal and city canvassing centers, fiber optic connectivity for the data servers of the Comelec, the PPCRV and the KBP.
It also provided back-up data center services for Smartmatic.
The partial tally conducted by the Comelec at 6:15 a.m. of Tuesday showed that about 78.55 percent of the total votes had been counted, with Liberal Party (LP) bet Senator Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino 3rd garnering 12,233,002 votes (40.19 percent); Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino's (PMP) former President Joseph "Erap" Estrada, 7,749,597 (25.46 percent); Nacionalista Party's (NP) Sen. Manuel "Manny" Villar Jr., 4,329,215 (14.22 percent); Lakas-Kampi Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD)'s Gilbert "Gibo" Teodoro, 3,243,688 (10.65 percent); Bangon Pilipinas' Bro. Eddie Villanueva, 916,543 (3.01 percent); Bagumbayan's Sen. Richard "Dick" Gordon, 431,954 (1.41 percent); independent candidate Jesus Nicanor Perlas, 42,205 (.13 percent); independent bet Jamby Madrigal, 37,1109 (.12 percent); and Ang Kapatiran's John Carlos de los Reyes, 36,159 (.11 percent).
More results For vice president, Mayor Jejomar Binay of Makati City (Metro Manila) was leading the race with 12, 025,429 (39.59 percent); LP's Sen. Manuel "Mar" Roxas 2nd, 11,213,563 (36.84 percent); NP's Sen. Loren Legarda, 3,259,963 (10.71 percent); Bagumbayan's Bayani Fernando, 847,100 (2.78 percent); Lakas-Kampi CMD's Edu Manzano, 593,653 (1.95 percent); Bangon Pilipinas' Perfecto Yasay, 295, 558 (.97 percent); Kilusang Bagong Lipunan's Jay Sonza, 50,722 (1.16 percent); and Ang Kapatiran's Dominador Chipeco, 40,335 (.13 percent).
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