by Perry Diaz
With barely two weeks left before the May 10 elections, the question, "Who owns Smartmatic-TIM?," keeps popping up in a lot of people's minds. Suddenly, the prospect of an "electronic Garci" cheating operation is creating apprehension that the country is on the brink of another people power or martial law. or, God forbid, civil war!
A few days ago, I got a call from a fellow Filipino-American journalist who said that a powerful man has the "source code" of the Precinct Count Optical Scanner (PCOS) machines that will be used for the first time in May 10 elections. I followed the trail of the information and talked to a Filipino international lawyer who has done some research on the question of the "ownership" of Smartmatic-TIM. The following is his response:
"GMA and FG now don't care a bit whether or not Filipinos or the world perceive these elections as honest or not. They have become drunk with power thinking they can now do anything and get away with it - because so far, they have gotten away with everything. They were even able to fool the public into thinking that the contract Comelec entered into was with the Venezuelan connected Dutch incorporated foreign corporation, Smartmatic. It's not. It's with a Philippine registered corporation called Smartmatic Sahi Technology Inc. incorporated only in March 23, 2008 where the primary shareholder is Cezar Quiambao and his family - a golfing buddy of the First Gentleman - who gets huge computer and infrastructure contracts from government and also involved with the scandalous Radstock case.
"The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Philippine base Smartmatic Sahi is Juan Villa Jr. Sahi teamed up with a local company called TIM registered in 1991 in the Philippines - engaged in the manufacture of doors and windows. They were known as Total Interiors Manufacturing. They amended their articles of incorporation in December 2008 to now include telecommunications as part of their business. They now want TIM to be understood as Total Information Management.
"Check the approval of the Comelec Smartmatic Tim contract in the internet which I discovered under the name of 'Juan Villa Jr.' The approval is addressed to Juan Villa Jr., Chairman of Smartmatic Sahi and not the foreign Smartmatic company. Even the media was fooled as they referred to Smartmatic as a foreign company. The announcements and press releases issued by Comelec and Smartmatic indicated that it was the foreign Smartmatic that was involved. This tactic misdirected the public from suspicions that the bidding was rigged in favor of individuals most likely acting as fronts for the Arroyos. Google the words 'Cezar Quiambao,' 'Juan Villa Jr.,' 'Smartmatic Sahi,' 'Smartmatic Sahi TIM,' and 'Patrick Mangubat Smartmatic TIM.' You will also be shocked to learn that 'Smartmatic Sahi' was involved in the Maguindanao elections in 2008 even before it was incorporated. They also made it appear that the Venezuelan company was the one involved with Comelec by putting the names of some of the officers of the foreign company in their papers like Cesar Flores and Armando R. Yanes.
"GMA and FG and their co-conspirators like Ronnie Puno et al know and maybe planned it as such that the effect of a non-credible election is that Noynoy supporters will not accept the results if Noynoy loses. This will result in mass demonstrations and some skirmishes between the police and demonstrators causing some individuals to be killed or hurt. Then some bombs are mysteriously exploded blaming unknown parties or even the communists. From there, they will make other moves. At this point, they feel they can do anything with impunity as they own all the levers of power: The Comelec, the most important military commands, the Supreme Court, and the Department of Justice. The blatant shameless exercise of raw power such as releasing the Ampatuans, appointing her manicurist and gardener to important positions - not allowing parallel manual counts aside from their other excesses all reflect their power instigated insanity that will bring the nation to the brink of disaster. All Filipinos acting in good faith and concern for all must be encouraged to take activist positions against these plunderers and oppressors."
Recently, several business groups the Makati Business Club, the Philippine Bar Association, and the National Citizens' Movement for Free Elections and IT experts proposed that Comelec conduct a parallel manual count in the races for president, vice president, and mayors to protect the integrity of the first automated election system and prevent cheating.
An open letter by the business groups addressed to Comelec Chairman Jose Melo says: "The credibility of automated elections has suffered because the Comelec removed many of the safeguards that were initially set in place-source code review, ultraviolet mark checking, authenticity check through digital signatures." They said that the parallel manual count would verify the accuracy of the PCOS machines; thus, giving credibility to the elections.
Malacañang Palace vehemently opposed a parallel manual count. Why? If Gloria had nothing to hide, she should welcome the proposal to demonstrate without a shadow of doubt that AES works and that the PCOS "source code" is not compromised and fraudulently programmed to do an "electronic Garci" cheating operation.
Three presidential candidates who are linked to Gloria are also in opposition to parallel manual count. They are Manny Villar, Gilbert "Gibo" Teodoro, and Richard "****" Gordon. Villar has recently surfaced as Gloria's "secret candidate" while Teodoro remains as the administration candidate. In the case of Gordon, his incessant attacks against Noynoy Aquino is apparently aimed to bolster Villar's poll ratings at the expense of Noynoy.
Noynoy and the remaining five presidential candidates are in favor of parallel manual count. However, in the event of an "electronic Garci" cheating operation, Noynoy would be the big loser since he is the frontrunner and ahead by 12% to 18% of his nearest rival, Villar.
An "electronic Garci" cheating operation would benefit either Villar or Teodoro. However, since Teodoro is way behind Noynoy by as much as 30% it would be easier to cheat for Villar. Villar has been tagged as "Villarroyo" on account of recent actions by Gloria, her husband Mike, and Gloria's top lieutenants and allies such as Chavit Singson, the Garcia family dynasty of Cebu, and Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, all of whom have openly endorsed Villar.
The fact that "ownership" of Smartmatic-TIM has become an issue lately, Comelec should nay, must! allow a parallel manual count to prevent a situation that could push the country to the brink of anarchy.
Comelec has a grand opportunity to redeem itself from the ignominy of the 2004 and 2007 election cheatings perpetrated by the "Garci boys" and prove that it is capable of protecting the democratic institutions for which it was created.