Press Release
March 24, 2010


Liberal Party standard bearers Senators Benigno S. Aquino III and Mar Roxas today expressed fears that the May 10 national and local elections will end up in total failure because of the removal of safeguards in ballots and faulty implementation of several features of the automated election system (AES).

In a letter to Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Jose A.R. Melo, Aquino and Roxas both expressed concerns that the poll body is running out of time to fully ensure success of the automated elections and may need to resort to manual counting to ensure the elections in May 10 will succeed.

"The unrealistic and abbreviated timeline observed by the Comelec, as well as the consequent alarming delays in the production of election paraphernalia, create a possibility for the occurrence of a failure of elections," Aquino and Roxas wrote to Melo.

"Further, we are particularly disturbed by the fact that the Commission and Smartmatic-TIM have disabled or entirely removed crucial safeguards in the various components of the AES," the two leading presidential and voice-presidential candidates also stated.

Aquino and Roxas said the removal of crucial safeguards, which are required under Republic Act No. 8436, otherwise known as AES Law, as amended by RA No. 9639, paves the way and presents an opportunity for massive electoral fraud by certain sectors that are desperate to hold on to power beyond their constitutional mandate at whatever cost to the integrity of our electoral process

The two LP candidates sent a delegation led by former Education Secretary Florencio Abad, former Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz Jr. and members of the LP's Bantay Balota to meet with Comelec officials led by Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal and Tita de Villa, chairman of the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) accredited as the Comelec's elections citizens' watchdog, to discuss their concerns.

Abad, also the Liberal Party general campaign manager, said Aquino and Roxas and even the entire leadership of LP were alarmed by the overwhelming evidence that there is a grand conspiracy to make the elections fail and get someone in power now to stay beyond June 30.

He said Aquino and Roxas cited eight reasons that justify their claim that there is a possibility of a failure in the implementation of automated poll system:


1. Questionable source code review - In violation of the requirement under Section 14 of RA 8436, as amended by RA 9369, the Commission allegedly prevented a timely and genuine review of the source code by political parties and other interested stakeholders;

2. Lack of means to verify ultra-violet marks in the official ballots - During the site visit of candidates to the National Printing Office (NPO) on March 11, the Comelec and Smartmatic-TIM confirmed that the built-in capability of the PCOS machines to read and verify the hidden ultra-violet security mark on the official ballot have been disabled;

3. Random manual audit - The parallel random manual audit as required under the law should be undertaken by an independent auditor prior to the electronic transmission of election results and proclamation as it represents the final and most crucial safeguard within the AES to ensure that the PCOS machines accurately recorded and counted the contents of the official ballots cast;

4. Refusal to accredit NAMFREL-CBCP-NASSA as citizens' poll watchdog group - NAMFREL, together with the National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) of the CBCP filed a petition to be accredited as a citizens' arm to conduct a public unofficial count;

5. Unfair ballot design - Aquino and Roxas noted that while Vetaliano Acosta, allegedly of the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan has been disqualified as a presidential candidate, the Commission and Smartmatic-TIM refused to remove him from the official ballot. Thus, Senator Manuel Villar's name is by his lonesome in the last column of the list of presidential candidates;

6. Lack of contingency/back-up plans - The law provides that the AES is designed to include continuity/contingency plans in case of a systems breakdown or any such eventuality that shall result in the delay, obstruction or non-performance of the process. Considering the lack of safeguards, delays, tight schedules and other problems in the implementation of the automated elections, it is imperative for the Comelec to prepare for manual elections as a contingency or back-up measure;

7. Disqualification of Liberal Party candidates - In the past few months, there appears to be a spate of disqualifications, specifically targeting candidates of the LP, among them the popular governors of Pampanga and Isabela - the former radio journalist Grace Padaca and the former priest Among Ed Panlilio - Bulacan Gov. Jonjon Mendoza, Palawan gubernatorial bet Kahlil B. Mitra and Leyte congressional candidate and popular actor Richard Gomez;

8. Status of the Liberal Party as dominant minority party - The Liberal Party was accorded the status of the dominant minority party in the 2007 senatorial elections, but the Nacionalista Party submitted beyond the deadline an unauthorized coalition agreement purportedly with the Nationalist People's Coalition to stop the LP from getting that status. If the NP is granted by the Comelec the status, then no other party would represent the true opposition in the counting of the ballots as it would be deprived access to the server where the results from the provinces will come in.

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