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Smart subversives

A foreign firm in which the government has limited or no control of has been manipulating national and local elections that is supposedly an expression of sovereignty and democracy.

Chito Lozada

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Since the beginning of the country’s dependence on the Automated Election System (AES) of Venezuelan firm Smartmatic in 2010, a form of subversion had taken place.

Subversion is defined as a systematic effort to undermine the government, and this was done in the past voting process by persons working secretly from within.

Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) internal auditor Art Besana said subversion can be deduced since actions of government officials and employees performing election duties and responsibilities border on undermining the system of government.

Besana narrated his discussions with the late Comelec chairman Sixto Brillantes whose lamentations, he said, confirmed what critics of AES have been complaining all along.

A foreign firm in which the government has limited or no control of has been manipulating national and local elections that are supposedly an expression of sovereignty and democracy.

Smartmatic, which has British Lord Mark Malloch-Brown as among its founders, clinched the AES contract along with the support and other services that go along with it, totaling a mind-boggling deal worth P20,846,012,000 “of the Filipino people’s money plus our honor and pride as a sovereign people,” Besana recounted Brillantes as saying.

The former Comelec chief placed the current situation in the context of a private and foreign entity taking over the conduct of elections, bestowing to it the unusual power to subvert the people’s will to a whole new level, and made it much easier for contending parties with vested interests to cheat.

Why does the Comelec so heavily favor Smartmatic, allowing it to monopolize the entire AES? One possible explanation is the connection of Smartmatic with groups that have an interest in securing electoral victory.

Malloch-Brown, Smartmatic’s chairman, was the late President Cory Aquino’s campaign strategist during the 1986 snap elections.

Some accounts claim that Malloch-Brown’s group then, the Sawyer Miller consultancy firm, was assigned by the US Central Intelligence Agency, or CIA, to Cory’s camp. Malloch-Brown proudly claimed that his outstanding accomplishment during Cory’s campaign was his exit poll that indicated Cory had won.

The foreign adviser also developed a close relationship with the Aquino family. There were reports that he met with Cory’s son, former President Benigno Aquino III and his allies during a recent visit.

With this alleged stunning success, self-publicized worldwide, Malloch-Brown has made a career out of influencing elections in supposedly sovereign countries, including the United States during the recent 2020 presidential elections, where he was denounced by lawyer Sidney Powell of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for massive electoral fraud using his Smartmatic machines.

He is known for strategizing for clients, mostly political elites. This underscores the dangers of privatizing elections that have been perpetually marred by massive fraud even before automation, planned manipulation of poll results of those who have access to the election technology or have ties with the private and foreign interests that control the technology, according to Besana.

Both in 2010 and 2013, allegations of electronic fraud were widespread, ranging from supposedly altered results being transmitted by the Precinct Count Optical Scan machines to preprogramming of results, such as the so called “60-30-10” pattern — 60 percent of votes for administration bets, 30 percent for opposition and 10 percent for other candidates — during the midterm senatorial election. No wonder even the most unlikely candidates to land among the winners landed among the top five winners.

Dominion, the US-based partner of Smartmatic and the latter’s provider of its badly needed election automation technology, broke away as partner, which resulted to questions raised on the software that the American firm used to supply. Smartmatic still has an unsettled lawsuit with Dominion in the US court.

The allegations of widespread electronic fraud from the 2010 to 2016 elections have strong basis.

Malloch-Brown and the Venezuelan owner of Smartmatic were very visible in the company of Cory Aquino during the 1986 snap elections.

When it was made known by Comelec that Smartmatic had won again the bidding to refurbish the vote counting machines for the 2022 national and local elections, a lot of people were shocked.

What happened to the instruction of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in June last year to the Department of Information Technology and the Comelec to search for a replacement for poll technology from Smartmatic?

Smartmatic won over the lowest bidder for a flimsy reason.

The only other bidder, Power Serve Inc. (PSI), lost due to its failure to indicate “zero” or dash in the relevant bid documents. PSI’s bid of P490 million is lower by P147,443,308.45 than Smartmatic’s bid of P637,443,308.45.

PSI has appealed to the Comelec Special Bids and Awards Committee to reconsider its decision.

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