28 July 2012

Did Mr. Carpio and The Firm help create the ‘corrupt judiciary’?

The Manila Times.Net
24 July 2012

“Hoodlums in robes” was what we called the magistrates some years ago. That was because atrocious decisions and news about malfeasant judges had become the talk of the town day in and day out.

Unfortunately, the perception that ours is a corrupt judiciary makes most of our citizenry forget that many judges are persons of unassailable integrity devoted to their difficult job. Some judges do heroically uphold the highest principles. For letting justice win in their courtrooms, a number of judges have been murdered. They should be honored as martyrs. Sadly, their martyrdom has done little to reverse the image of the Philippine judiciary as a corrupt institution.

All of these goings on served to flush down the reputation of the Philippine courts into the dark caverns of a septic tank.

Not just a grave image problem

For the truth is that the judiciary not only has a grave image problem. It really has serious moral shortcomings. Not only have the Supreme Court’s probers themselves found some judges to be corrupt, incompetent, lazy and irresponsible. Conversations with lawyers of great probity as well as those of low ethical constitution also reveal that some justices and judges can be bought outright or be approached politely and induced to yield.

That is why the Judicial and Bar Council must do its duty more rigorously than ever before. The JBC must find the most virtuous among the most qualified of the applicants for chief justice.

The new chief justice must not only be a man (or woman) of integrity guided by the highest sense of morality and patriotism. He or she must also be an inspiring figure and a decisive chief executive officer who has the personal skills to reform the entire Philippine judiciary and rid it of scalawag justices, judges and clerks.

Anyone who has been a protagonist in destructive partisan politics and a contributor to creating the sorry state of the judiciary today must be screened out at once.

Any aspirant who has benefited from corruption, bent the laws to promote his or his group’s interests, abused his power to attain his desired goal must be cast aside.

And this brings us to the crucial need to examine the life and career of the present Acting Chief Justice, the honorable Antonio T. Carpio.

He seems to be the frontrunner. But, more than any other applicant, Acting CJ Carpio appears to have contributed the most to creating the dire state of our judiciary.

The key premise is this: That the present judiciary is corrupt—and even criminal—as seen in actions committed, in court decisions made, by corrupt magistrates.

That being so, who peopled the judiciary with hoodlums in robes?

For one reason or another, some lawyers say that these past two decades Justice Antonio Carpio and some of his colleagues in the law firm he founded, CVC Law, have been among the most influential in shaping the corrupt state of the judiciary.

CVC Law is reputedly the most powerful law firm in our country. Now also known as Villaraza Cruz Marcelo & Angangco, this group of legal eagles is fearsomely nicknamed “The Firm.”

The first C in CVCLaw stands for “Carpio.” The V stands for Atty. F. Arthur Villaraza. The second C, for Atty. Avelino Cruz.

What role did Acting Chief Justice Carpio—and his colleagues in The Firm—play in the appointment of their chosen nominees to the judiciary?

Did Acting CJ Carpio have a hand in these appointments as early as 1992 when he was the chief presidential legal counsel of then president Fidel V. Ramos? Is it true that in that capacity he required all prospective appointees to the judiciary to secure his approval? Did he also direct these prospective appointees to go to the CVC Law office to be interviewed by and obtain the approval of CVC Law name partners?

Did Mr. Carpio and his colleagues in The Firm play a role in the ouster of former president Joseph Estrada? Were he and his colleagues the brains that made it possible for then vice-president Gloria M. Arroyo to become president and replace the ousted president Estrada?

Did Acting CJ Carpio and his colleagues in The Firm influence the CJ Hilario Davide Supreme Court’s interpretation of former president Joseph Estrada’s actions as his “constructive resignation” from the presidency, thus justifying the accession of then vice-president Gloria Arroyo to the presidency?

After working for then president Fidel V. Ramos, did Acting CJ Carpio return to The Firm? Was The Firm’s office at the LTA building in Makati? Was the office of former First Gentleman Juan Miguel Arroyo also in the same building? Was the former first gentleman, a client of The Firm?

Not long after Mrs. Arroyo became president, she appointed Mr. Carpio associate justice of the Supreme Court. Did he continue to have professional contacts with his colleagues in The Firm even after assuming office as SC justice?

Did he— and his colleagues in The Firm, who had become leading members of the Arroyo Cabinet— have a hand in the appointment of judges and justices by then president Arroyo? Did The Firm’s Mr. Avelino Cruz, as president Arroyo’s presidential legal counsel, sometime acting executive secretary and finally secretary of defense, vet nominees for positions in the judiciary? Did The Firm’s Mr. Simeon Marcelo also? Did Mr. Carpio participate in this vetting process—even when he was already a

Supreme Court justice?

Did Mr. Carpio also meet and have conversations with nominees to the judiciary, whose inclusion in short lists were not owed to The Firm, to make them feel beholden to The Firm for their appointment?

There were at least 15 lawyers of The Firm who held top positions in the Arroyo administration. All except one of them returned to The Firm upon resigning from the government, following the example set by Mr. Carpio, former Defense secretary Cruz and former Solicitor General (later former Ombudsman) Simeon Marcelo.

Did The Firm, through all its people in key government positions, help shape not just the corrupt judiciary but also the questionable policy-making and governance of key government agencies of the previous administration?

Did Acting CJ Carpio and The Firm cause the termination of the services of the executive director of the Supreme Court’s Information Technology (IT) program? Did Justice Carpio subsequently cause the hiring of an IT expert recommended by CVCLaw?

Is it true that this new IT expert provided CVC Law access to advance information on forthcoming resolutions and decisions of the High Court? Is it true that by reason of this advance information, CVC Law gained undue advantage and profited financially? Was the connection between CVC Law and the SC IT expert ever disclosed to the other justices of the Court?

Questions that involve moral torpitude

Some questions we have been urged to ask—by persons opposed to Mr. Carpio’s appointment— involve suggestions of moral torpitude.

One asks if it is true that Mr. Carpio had a relationship with a female clerk in a law firm other than CVC Law and got her pregnant. Did he recognize the child and provide full support for its upbringing and education?

Another has to do with the much-publicized objection of Lauro Visconte to Mr. Carpio’s appointment. Is it true that Mr. Carpio testified as a witness in favor of Hubert Webb and lobbied with fellow justices for the acquittal of Hubert Webb? Did Mr. Carpio have a relationship with a relative of Hubert Webb?

Our wish is both to give Acting Justice Carpio the opportunity through our pages to show that all the negative perceptions of him and The Firm are not true and to help the Judicial Bar Council find the best nominees among the applicants.

06 July 2012

That May 2010 election monster, the PCOS machine, re-surfaces for 2013 elections

That May 2010 election monster, the PCOS machine, re-surfaces for 2013 elections, after Comelec resuscitates ‘dead contract’ to purchase 82,000 units from Smartmatic at P1.8 billion. Recalling ‘Koala Boy’ and frightening pattern of wholesale defeats in 2010. Civic groups led by Archbishop Capalla and IT experts file MR against SC’s 11-3 decision upholding that contract---suntok sa buwan?


Belinda Olivares-Cunanan

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Soon after the May 10, 2012 presidential and local elections, the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms, chaired by former Makati Rep. Teodoro Locsin Jr., began a month-long inquiry into that exercise, during which dozens of candidates from around the country who had lost testified. As a veteran political observer of 25 years, who was then connected with a major newspaper, I covered those hearings of TeddyBoy’s committee day in and day out, in view of their historic significance as our first fully-automated elections. I reported on them in great detail in my columns.

At first I thought the House committee hearings represented just another of those traditional ho-hum inquiries where Pinoy candidates didn’t lose but instead were "cheated" of victory. But when so many candidates began to exhibit a frightening pattern of wholesale defeats, most of them studiously backed up by elaborate evidence of electoral failings never before seen here, I began to take a serious look at a new election monster---the PCOS machines of Smartmatic-TIM (SMTT).

After their defects and glitches surfaced dizzyingly in so many places, they came to be known as “Hocus PCOS” (trust former President Estrada to coin that term).


Soon enough political pundits began to wonder: just how high did the manipulation of the May 2010 elections go?  There was clamor from some quarters afterwards for an independent commission to investigate the shenanigans in those elections, but this was ignored. Will we ever find out the truth?

Unfortunately, today, as Comelec prepares for the mid-term elections of 2013, the PCOS machines have been resurrected---despite the fact that the poll body’s option to purchase (OTP) them from SMTT had expired last December 31, 2010.  Comelec entered into this new contract that SMTT was only too willing to “extend” last March 2012 for P1.8 billion---this time to buy those 82,000 PCOS machines that have been in storage for the past two years, with many proven defective in the 2010 elections.

Several citizens’ organizations led by Davao Archbishop Fernando Capalla and former Vice President Tito Guingona, as well as the Solidarity for Sovereignty and Tanggulang Demokrasya, seek to stop this OTP because it’s a “dead option contract.” that had expired in December 2010. The protesters rightly claim that a new contract should involve new public bidding, as the law requires, but this was not done.

Obviously, to push selling its old PCOS stock, SMTT claims that the allegations of its defects---totaling 236 as asserted by ousted Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman, the only IT expert among the poll body’s seven top officials---are being addressed by its Cabuyao, Laguna HQ. IT experts, however, are plainly skeptical about this claim.


In fact, SMTT claims that it’s testing some 3,500 PCOS units a day---which includes the power source, the CF card ports, thermal printer, scanning capacity, UV sensors and modem transmissions. But the IT experts who have long been scrutinizing the PCOS’ performance, laugh off this fat claim as mission impossible.

IT expert Lito Averia opines that even assuming that it takes one hour to check one PCOS unit (including unpacking and re-packing), SMTT has to have  some 450 technicians/testers hired for this purpose---not the handful at Cabuyao that media have seen. But even granting na nga, says Averia, that checking each unit takes just half an hour, 225 technicians/testers are still needed per day.

The IT people assert that this SMTT claim has to be a joke. “Kung visual inspection lang, pwede pa matapos ng ganoon, but not an honest to goodness check-up of machines that had malfunctioned in 2010 and kept in storage for two years,” they stress.

To quote Rep. Rudy Farinas, it’s an SMTT PALUSOT and it’s sad that Comelec is buying this story lock, stock and barrel.


What’s even sadder are the developments at the Supreme Court. Early in May this year, the SC, led by then Chief Justice Renato Corona, issued a TRO through a vote of 8 vs. 7 against the Comelec-SMTT  PCOS purchase contract inked last March, in order to hear arguments on both sides. But on June 13, 2012---exactly 15 days after CJ Corona was ousted by the Senate---the SC reversed itself in a vote of 11-3 and upheld the purchase contract (four justices moved from AGAINST to PRO-contract after Corona was sacked. This is regarded as immediate proof of his impeachment’s chilling effect on the Court.

Yesterday the consolidated IT organization called Automated Election System Watch (AESW) filed a motion for reconsideration of that SC decision upholding the contract. It’s a suntok sa buwan by the AESW, for the magistrates’ pro-contract vote is massive.  BUT IT’S A BLOW FOR DEMOCRACY.


Soon after the May 2010 elections, stunning cases of massive defeats were disclosed simultaneous with the surfacing in media of a mysterious masked character nicknamed “Koala Boy” by TeddyBoy Locsin. Koala Boy alleged he was part of a big group of “players,” “operators” and “coordinators” as well as their allies in the Comelec that manipulated the national and local elections to favor candidates who paid their steep fees.

Koala Boy asserted that the “simple” operations (“pindot-pindot lang”),  made through the PCOS machines, involved three steps:  l). the switching of ballots in the PCOS machines, using ballots outside of the Comelec stock;  2). the pre-programming the CF cards (recall that the CF cards were discovered to be “defected” and supposed to have been “corrected” the weekend before the elections, but apparently never were in many places); and 3). The transmission of spurious returns bearing duplicate serial numbers from the syndicates’ own PCOS machines---capable of transmitting from 24,000 to 30,000 ballots in one instance.


Koala Boy said he surfaced because he was conscience-stricken, but he never showed up after one appearance, doubtless for fear of his life. There was skepticism---and even cynicism---in some quarters about his incredible allegations, but the coincidental stories of massive defeats of power blocs in various regions were just too stunning and numerous to ignore.

For instance, former Rep. Ace Barbers of Surigao del Norte, then running for governor, lost with his entire line-up that included his vice-gubernatorial candidate, two candidates for representative and all his 21 mayors.  Ace could really have lost, but all the 21 mayors? There was the three-term popular governor of North Cotabato, Manny PiƱol, at that time running for Vice-Governor, who also lost wholesale with his local candidates. There were also re-electionist Rep. Glenn Chiong, vice-mayoralty candidate of Tagaytay Mark Tan, and many other cases of candidates who seemed to have been  “deleted” in the computers.


Other cases of high improbability last May 2010:  Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia of the powerful Garcia clan lost in her own barangay in Carcar as well as in Mandaue City where she asserted that the first time she ran there in 2007 she won by 45,000 (she lost last May 2010 in Mandaue by 15,000 there even with Rep. Nerisa Soon's and her opponent's support).  Former President Estrada, then a presidential candidate, lost in his own precinct in San Juan.

Former Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita lost in his own bailiwick even as all his mayors won; both former Secretary Raul Gonzalez and his reelectionist son, Rep. Raul Jr., lost in their own bailiwick in Iloilo. Former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, on the other hand, recounted a story from a witness who claimed she saw the feeding of fake ballots right in City Hall.

For comments/reactions, please email: polbits@yahoo.com

What's happening to PCOS?

By Carmen N. Pedrosa (The Philippine Star)
Updated July 01, 2012 12:00 AM

Comelec seems bent on using the PCOS regardless of unresolved issues.

Are Filipinos being disenfranchised slowly but surely? Comelec renewed the PCOS contract illegally after the impeachment of Chief Justice Renato Corona, with the intimidated Supreme Court voting in favor of the renewal, 11-3.

I was at the hearing and I remember one justice saying that there was no more time to question and change the system. The lawyers sitting around me looked askance, amazed a justice would even say that. The Supreme Court is a trier of law, not of fact. If the Comelec did not follow the requirements of law to renew the contract then it should not have renewed the contract, period. All the rest is subterfuge.

*   *   *

We have a problem in our hands because it is not easy for ordinary voters to understand the technology of the machines and the automated electoral system. Without a public outcry Comelec hopes it can get away using the same machines.

The starkest example of why the machines cannot be trusted came from former North Cotabato Governor Manny Pinol. He found ballots from Colombia in a machine. It is clear that something very wrong happened.

If the machines were trustworthy as Smartmatic-PCOS says they are, it is unbelievable that ballots from Colombia should end up being counted in the Philippines. Pinol also reports thermal papers in the ER envelopes which either did not have any Comelec seal or had Citibank Visa Paylite and Citibank Mastercard markings.

We should have believed the whistleblower derisively called Koala Bear when he said there were two ways to tamper election results: “hacking” and “pre-loading.”

 As the official Comelec documents in Biliran later show, these 2 modes appear to have taken place.

The audit logs from each pcos machine) taken in relation to the print logs (from the municipal server) show at least 3 apparent modes of “hacking”:

Unauthorized transmission and receipt of electronic returns from an unknown source (where the PCOS machine repeatedly failed to transmit and then closed at 8 p.m., but the municipal server surprisingly received a transmission from the said pcos/precinct 3 hours later at 11 p.m., of May 10);

Unauthorized double transmission and receipt of electronic returns from the same PCOS machine with assigned clustered precinct but using distinctly different IP addresses;

(3) unauthorized double use of one and the same IP address to transmit electronic election returns from 2 different pcos machines of 2 separate clustered precincts.

The preloading mode was also used in Biliran. The audit logs from each pcos machine show apparent preloading of ballots into the CF cards. This is shown by the “protective counter” entries in the audit logs which counts the numbers of ballots the pcos had scanned. 

If the pcos machines were actually reconfigured as what Comelec says, then the protective counters should have restarted with 0 before testing and sealing. So that after testing and sealing with 10 ballots, the first official ballot cast would be numbered 11. Data from Biliran will show that of the 145 official PCOS audit logs available, only 2 PCOS had protective counters starting at 0. All the 143 pcos had initial protective counter numbers anywhere from 1 to 128 with a great majority at 29 scans before testing and sealing.

The total initial scans for all 143 PCOS is 4,114 ballots scanned before testing and sealing. The CF card controls the protective counter mechanism so that if they showed initial data before any official ballot is cast, it only means they were not in fact reconfigured after all.

The evidence of fraud lies in the audit trail of the automated election system. If only the parties concerned or the people, as in the case of Biliran, were able to get the PCOS audit logs and mboc print logs. More of similar cases as shown in Biliran could have been discovered.

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With the Comelec renewing the contract of Smartmatic-PCOS with the same machines and electoral system we are cooked. This spells trouble.

It is shocking to hear from Smartmatic Asia president Cesar Flores, that the machines can produce receipts for 2013, but it is the Comelec that does not want the function used?

Smartmatic-PCOS claims all the glitches of the May 2010 elections have been corrected but did not say what the glitches were.

Surprisingly, Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile has given the go-signal to use PCOS machines as well as the consolidated canvassing system (CCS) machines in next year’s mid-term elections.

*      *      *

In my opinion it would be more useful to look at the complaints in every country where Smartmatic PCOS machines and its automated electoral system were used. That would give us a better picture on what is going on.

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