Friday, August 07, 2009

Harry Roque vs COMELEC-Smartmatic

The Honorable Justices came into the room, dressed in black robes, and occupied their positions at the bench. Then everyone was asked to be seated, and the hearing of the "Harry Roque vs COMELEC-Smartmatic" case started. Atty Harry Roque spoke with confidence, secure in the knowledge that he was fighting for the "right", and armed with hard facts that buttress his claim that COMELEC must pilot test in 12 areas in the country in the national elections of 2010, before doing fully computerized elections in the national elections after 2010. He also gave proof of his claim that the 60-40 split in the JVA between TIM and Smartmatic is on paper only, but in reality, it was Smartmatic that was calling the shots in almost every major decision making.

After Atty Roque spoke, all the Honorable Justices asked him questions. From the manner of their questioning, one can tell that the Hon Justices were biased, six for him, and six against. I asked Atty Vicky Avena what happens in a situation like this, and she said Atty Roque will lose in case of a tie, unless the Hon Chief Justice can convince the other Justices to change their votes. The Justices were very well informed, and most of them did their homework, displaying a depth of knowledge even more extensive than the lawyers at court. At one point, the Chief Justice asked Atty Roque if he knew the contents of COMELEC Bid Bulletin No. 10, and it took him some time to realize that the Chief Justice was actually leading him, because Bid Bulletin No. 10 is one of the documents that he needed to prove his point that Smartmatic is actually running the 2010 elections and that COMELEC has surrendered its mandate to manage the election to Smartmatic. In Bid Bulletin No. 10, COMELEC gives Smartmatic full responsibility for generating the private and public keys of the BEI and BOC personnel, which the BEI will use to digitally sign the precinct election returns (ER). Since Smartmatic has this responsibility, it will have possession of all BEIs' private keys, and will give Smartmatic the capability to change the ER of any precinct in the entire country, resulting in massive computerized cheating in case this capability is exploited by Smartmatic.

Next it was the turn of the Asst Solicitor General, counsel for COMELEC, to speak, and to be asked questions. Finally the lawyer for Smartmatic spoke and gave a demo (actually Chris Iskander of Dominion-Smartmatic gave a demo, while the lawyer spoke about the demo that was going on) of the PCOS-SAES-1800, and then the Justices asked him questions.

It was my first ever court experience, and it was at the Supreme Court! I felt so proud that I am witness to a most important event in the history of my country, at which the implementation or non-implementation of the first fully computerized national election will be decided. Most people in attendance were lawyers from U.P. Everyone was dressed smartly, the men in barong Tagalog or coat and tie, the women in blazers and smart dresses. I was the only one in long-sleeve shirt! The Supreme Court session started at about 2:00 PM, and lasted nine hours and twenty minutes. The court never called a merienda break.

Now I have added three major heroes in my Honor Roll, for their intelligence, breadth and depth of knowledge, and fairness: Chief Justice Reynato Puno, Justice Antonio Carpio, and Justice Leonardo Quisumbing, all Honorable Justices of the Supreme Court. I also want to add a minor hero, Atty Harry Roque, Knight of Truth, fighting against major odds, armed only with the wisdom and ingenuity of a UP lawyer, at one time citing "an IT expert from the neighboring rival school", in order to reveal the truth behind the COMELEC-Smartmatic deal.

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