The PPCRV head barks up the wrong tree
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2009-04-28

The Philippine tragedy is not because we do not have good people in this country. The Philippine tragedy is due to the many good people of this country who are not doing anything or are doing all the wrong things.

PPCRV (Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting) Chairman Tita de Villa is another classic case of a reputedly good person with good intentions who only manages to waste precious time and energy.

Just at look at her pathetic effort to lecture to the 2010 presidential wannabes to stop what she perceives as premature campaigning in the form of on-going television commercials. In case de Villa bothered to check her legal basis for asking the presidential wannabes to stop premature campaigning, she would have discovered that the 2010 presidential wannabes are not violating any Comelec (Commission on Elections) law.

The Comelec cites two points that are missing to be able to consider those television commercials as premature campaigning. The first point is that the person featured in the television commercial has not filed any certificate of candidacy for a public office. The second point is that the television commercial does not mention any public office that is being sought.

With no violation of existing laws to rely on, de Villa cannot claim the high ground to tell the presidential wannabes that they are engaged in premature campaigning. But of course that is looking at it from the legal standpoint.

Morally or ethically speaking, it may be another thing altogether. While these television commercials may be conforming to election laws, there is also the likelihood that these are being undertaken to project a desired image for the 2010 presidential candidate and enhance the candidate’s awareness and recall levels.

However, when a perceived moral or an ethical issue has no legal basis — in other words when a perceived immoral or unethical act is not an illegal act — then there is a difficulty to compel a cessation of the act.

How is de Villa to determine for sure that Senator Manny Villar’s television commercial is simply all about Villar’s on-going program to assist OFWs (overseas Filipino workers)? How is de Villa to determine for sure that the television commercial of Makati City is a Jojo Binay early campaign effort?

Only Villar and Binay would really know their motives when they commissioned the production and airing of those ad messages. For de Villa to presume to know the real motives of Villar and Binay would be to play God.

Be that as it may, what really should bother us is why Tita de Villa is so concerned with something that does not even have a legal leg to stand on and yet she is so seemingly unconcerned that our Comelec may soon graduate from the Garci type cheating to the more alarming type of IT cheating.

Preventing election cheating and not premature campaigning is the raison d’etre of the PPCRV. So why all the fuss about premature campaigning where no legal violation can be cited when there is the all too real danger that the 2010 elections computer system the Comelec insists on adopting can be internally hacked to make winners out of losers?

Tita de Villa cannot feign ignorance of this danger that the Comelec adopted automation system can be easily hacked from within to program preferred results. How can she feign ignorance when this has been the subject matter of extensive media discussion?

If she has not yet seen the presentation of IT expert Gus Lagman (who exposed the flaws and shenanigans in the previous failure to computerize the Comelec) then she will be doing the PPCRV a great favor by requesting to be enlightened. Korina Sanchez did a thorough discussion of this in her former program on ANC. Tita de Villa can request ANC for a copy of that episode so she and the PPCRV can be enlightened.

Your Chair Wrecker has sat through the presentation by Gus Lagman together with my friend Conrad de Quiros. Conrad was alarmed by what were discussed during the presentation and decided to write two columns about this new mode of wholesale fraud. This was also a recent subject matter of your Chair Wrecker’s April 23 “Did Ted Failon get in the way of a VIP’s big hidden agenda” column.

Gus Lagman proposes the OES (Open Election System) which is cheaper by easily P5 billion (compared to P11.3 billion system that the Comelec is adopting) but more importantly — verifiable at certain stages to prevent fraud.

A top rating presidential wannabe — Senator Chiz Escudero — has been expressing concern over the danger that the Comelec’s adopted system is prone to massive fraud. Senate Electoral Reform Chairman and also presidential wannabe, Sen. Dick Gordon, had expressed a similar concern and seeks assurance that this massive electronic fraud will not happen.

Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano outdid everyone else by proposing to give a P100 million reward for any IT expert who can demonstrate how the Comelec system can be hacked. It should worry Tita de Villa that the Comelec dismissed Cayetano’s proposal and can only offer the weak assurance that the adopted system cannot be externally hacked.

Comelec keeps on harping on external hacking but does not mention anything about internal hacking. The truth is there is very little danger of external hacking. Like Garci, the danger of massive electronic fraud is from within — internal hacking.

  Previous Columns:

It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

Suggested guidelines for liability- free Internet posts

Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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