Security preparation for elections adequate

Posted on May 09, 2013

SECURITY PREPARATIONS for Monday’s elections have been found adequate after yesterday’s command conference in Malacañan Palace.

"The President [Benigno S. C. Aquino III] expressed satisfaction with the preparations and the commitment of all concerned to ensure that the polls are undertaken in a manner that inspires confidence and public satisfaction," Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail F. Valte said in a statement released after the late afternoon closed-door meeting with the military and police leadership.

"He [Mr. Aquino] spoke with all the heads of the area commands via video conference and received a comprehensive briefing from the PNP (Philippine National Police) and AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) together with the Security Cluster," the statement read.

Meanwhile, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) will today present the software that will run the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines.

"We will present the source code tomorrow [today]," said Comelec Chairman Sixto S. Brillantes, Jr. in an interview after yesterday’s oral arguments at the Supreme Court on the presentation of the so-called source code.

Mr. Brillantes said the master source code held by US-based Dominion Voting Systems, Inc. was brought to the country on Tuesday, while another copy is with SLI Global Solutions, Inc., the independent certifier.

The oral arguments were held on the petition of former senator Richard J. Gordon, a candidate of the United Nationalist Alliance, to have the source code produced by the Comelec for review by interested groups.

Mr. Brillantes told magistrates during the oral arguments that the review of the software by the petitioners was not required by law.

"The source code review by an independent certifier is mandatory. Without it, I don’t think we can have any election. But we cannot [say] that elections cannot be held if political parties and interested groups are not given the source code [for review]."

In a related development, a former rebel leader assailed the disqualification of Abang Lingkod as a party-list group and vowed to pursue legal means to reverse the Comelec ruling.

Stephen Paduano, known as Carapali Lualhati when he was still national commander of the Revolutionary Proletarian Army-Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPA-ABB), noted that Abang Lingkod remains in the official ballot. Mr. Paduano is the group’s first nominee.

Abang Lingkod was among the 12 party-list groups disqualified by the Comelec last Monday.

"Our lawyers in Manila will exhaust all legal means. The worst case scenario for us would be a delayed proclamation. We will lobby for it before the Supreme Court," he said in an interview hours before the group held a rally late Tuesday in Barangay Bata, in Bacolod City.

He said the group has not received an official communication of Abang Lingkod’s exclusion in Monday’s elections. Mr. Paduano, who headed the RPA-ABB for more than 10 years, quit the rebel group last year when he was named nominee of Abang Lingkod.

Last month, the RPA-ABB was renamed "Kapatiran para sa Progresong Panlipunan (Brotherhood for Social Progress)" in compliance with the peace agreement with the government.

In Mindanao, the bombing of a power transmission facility in North Cotabato has been considered a warning of possible security problems on election day in Central Mindanao and the autonomous Muslim region, the regional police told local media.

An improvised explosive device slightly damaged a tower of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines in Barangay Kayaga in Kabacan town late Monday, said Sr. Supt. Danilo P. Peralta, provincial police chief, said in a radio interview yesterday.

The bomb was pipe-type and some parts malfunctioned, he said.

Had it fully exploded, power supply would have been interrupted in most parts of Kabacan and in nearby towns.

In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, meanwhile, 200 police officers have been deployed to Lanao del Sur to serve as board of election inspectors.

These officers have completed training on the operation of the Precinct Count Optical Scan machines as well as administrative functions. -- KMPT, MJOC, N. L. Guadalquiver and L. O. Pacardo