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Still Automagic

It’s another Automagic election season.

Troubleshooting the PCOS machines in the 2013 elections. | Photo from @Venzie

Troubleshooting the PCOS machines in the 2013 elections. | Photo from @Venzie

In 2010, we were perplexed not once but twice by the number of registered voters revealed by the vote canvassing servers of the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). First, Congress discovered in their servers a total of 256 million voters. Later, the national canvassing came out with a list that indicated 153 million registered voters. During that time, we only had a total population of over 92 million and just 50.7 million registered voters.

Venezuela-based corporation Smartmatic, co-implementer of the Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS) machines used in our automated election system (AES), claimed they were merely errors in the coding that did not affect the actual canvassed vote results. How did they face this problem? They simply tweaked the codes right after and claimed it fixed in a jiffy. Never mind the 654 verified irregularities reported by watchdog Kontra Daya then — the problem was fixed and the results are once again officially infallible.

Fast forward to present-day 2013: COMELEC’s official citizen’s arm PPCRV began airing live unofficial tallies of around 10 million votes already cast when only 1.82 percent or 1,418 of the 77,829 precincts have transmitted their votes, equivalent to only 1.42 million votes assuming a maximum of 1,000 voters per precinct. Again, a quick huddle of COMELEC, PPCRV, media and the big trapo parties led to the consensus that it was, yet again, another coding problem, this time in PPCRV’s system end. This supposedly led to the unofficial tally’s accidental double-counting, a scripting error that Smartmatic conveniently claims can also be patched up quicker than you can say Hocus PCOS.

At this point, the numbers are now moot. Kontra Daya correctly pointed out that the fact “that Smartmatic can change the script of the source code during the canvassing shows serious problems with the entire automated system.”  From 2010 to the present, Smartmatic was able to simply and quickly ‘fix’ the AES’ source code with no means of confirming the integrity of the changes made, seeing as there was no source code review opened to the public in the first place to either confirm or dispel observed problems with the electoral system.

Never mind that Kontra Daya reported 367 verified irregularities (as of 11:54PM this evening of election day, and counting) this time around, about 60 percent of which involved PCOS errors. Mass media quickly swallowed COMELEC, Smartmatic and PPCRV’s explanations hook, line and sinker, and wants you to believe in its credibility too. Time to bring out the party poppers and celebrate democracy at work, they say.

Yep. It’s still an Automagic Election season this year.#


How Teddy came up on top of the #Harapan2013 twitter conversation

The #Harapan2013 Senatorial debate of ABS-CBN was a format very different from #RapplerDebate — time limits of answers ranged from only 15 seconds for the fast questions, to a minute for the panelist questions. Again, our Makabayan senatorial bet Teddy Casiño was there, along with several other candidates. Twitter was clearly abuzz with the senatorial debate as the #Harapan2013 hashtag continues to be a top trender as of 10AM today.
While fanatics of Risa Hontiveros were raving about her on Twitter, and even capturing a moment when the former Akbayan Party-list representative penetrated Twitter’s trending list, this single tweet completely changed the #Harapan2013 landscape:
I used the Tweet Archivist to analyze the hashtag’s trends — the tool shows which Twitter handles got the most mentions in all #Harapan2013 tweets, which words were the most used, and which hashtags accompanied #Harapan2013 the most. The results were amazing:

Hashtag Count
#teddycasino 27
#hontiveros 24
#halalan2013 19
#camerajuan 18
#phvote 14
#hagedorn 11
#teampnoy 11
#principled 9
#progressive 9
#responsive 8
#rhbill 6
#lgbt 6
#botoparasabata 5
#risahontiveros 5
#halalan20 4
#halal 4
#danielpadillaasaprawr 4
#kathrynbernardoasaprawr 4
#antidynasty 4
#teddycasiño 4
#votebam 4
#magic8 4
#paspasan 3
#philhealth 3
#ofw 3



Word Count
SA 618
ANG 558
NA 374
NG 323
IL 276
VOTE 260
MGA 227
KO 114
AKO 97
PO 92
KAY 85
PA 78

That single tweet made Casiño trend to the top of the #Harapan2013 Twitter discussion, as followers of Vice Ganda and his fan club retweeted the statement in agreement.

Interestingly and ironically, Hontiveros, obviously Teddy’s closest competitor in the #Harapan2013 trends, earlier bought political ad space in Vice’s talk show, Gandang Gabi Vice. Teddy, meanwhile, had only the sharp and correct analyses and proposed solutions to convince the comic yet cerebral celebrity to express interest about his candidacy.

Our deepest gratitude to Vice Ganda for considering Teddy and sharing it to the Twitterverse. Congratulations to Teddy and to all our compatriots in the Makabayan Coalition for a job well done in advancing the politics of change! This is one small step — let’s continue struggling for that giant leap!

A karaniwang tao’s view on the 2013 online electoral campaign so far

I recently participated in the #RapplerDebate Hangout last Saturday to discuss the social media campaign trail so far in the Philippines’ 2013 elections, representing Team Teddy Casino. The connection was quite bad where we held the live chat, so I wasn’t able to effectively participate in the discussion. They did gave us guide questions, though, and here’s my answers to their questions.


My finest moment in the Hangout — showing off my shirt to the viewing public.

  1. Campaigns in the world of Twitter and Facebook
    • Is it different?
      Social networks are extensions of our social spheres. Campaigning online is thus essentially no different with how activists engage, organize and mobilize in the real world: we promote our advocacies, we explain our positions on issues, and we invite them to both online and offline activities.
      What new media brought into the equation is the access – with the right strategy, there is now the potential to reach 25 to 30 million Filipinos across socio-economic classes without the barriers of distance and geography.On the other hand, there are unique limitations to digital campaigning: despite recently being touted by the United Nations as a human right, internet access is still severely limited by high prices of internet rates, slow speed, and its concentration in urban areas.
    • Is it a priority? How much time and effort is spent on social media?
      It is an integral component of our electoral campaign, but it is not the priority. An obvious reason is that traditional media still has the overwhelmingly greatest reach in the playing field. But to progressive political activists, the electoral fight isn’t a mere race to sweep votes, we’re also looking into getting solid votes that will translate into commitment for social action beyond the election period.

      So while it is not the priority strategy to win the electoral campaign, our new media campaign is of much importance as it is a venue to saturate a captured online audience with sustained political education at a very low cost.We have a small team of multi-taskers who are focused on ensuring the spread of high-quality content that will help Filipino citizens to understand better and even encourage them to participate in our advocacies.

      Our work flow allows us to fully campaign during the peak online hours of peak week days, while formulating and creating content during its off-peak hours. We call Saturdays and Sundays weekends but we’re usually using it to do weekly assessments and plannings.

    • Why spend that much time?
      It is an opportunity to solidly educate and organize our ever expanding supporter base to help them understand the structural roots of the problems of mass poverty, corruption, lack of social services, and the destruction of our environment that our country faces.
      Hindi tulad ng mga trapo na kailangan lang ang atensyon at suporta ng mamamayan tuwing eleksyon, sinisikap namin makabuklod sila sa buong panahon naming pagkilos.
  1. Online vs on ground
    • How different is engagement online and in real life?
      Netizens are more opinionated, and why not: they are exposed to a barrage of information and insights. The more active ones are also more influential to their own social spheres. Unfortunately, there is still a persisting culture of slacktivism – that is, online advocacy that doesn’t translate into real-world actions – which has to be addressed by our online campaigners. To be able to tap netizens for campaigning especially for activities in real life contributes greatly to Teddy’s run for a politics of change.

    • Limitations of social media: only a certain class can be reached. How do you balance that out?
      We try to mobilize online supporters to campaign in their own social spheres – or to link up directly with our party chapters in every province. That’s the basic problem we try to address: ensuring the vote conversions aren’t limited to the individuals we directly reached online, but to access their own networks as well.

  2. Tales from the campaign trail
    • What issues have you come across online?Well, of course we face the usual vilification of the Left. In fact, we regularly experience what seems to be “operations” by hardcore militarists who throw the usual tirades of anti-communism and evangelize AFP modernization. The standard practice: discern trolls from truth-seekers, ignore the former, enlighten the latter, and regulate the unruly.

    • Any social media booboos so far? Lessons from those?
      One of our campaigners got into a tweet war with a journalist. And the incident was still being milked long after the apologies have been expressed and accepted. Then of course, there have been little mistakes such as typos, mistweets, etc. But its natural when the team is composed of volunteer activists and advocates – the campaign, after all, is the fight of the karaniwang tao for the karaniwang tao. Tao lang, nagkakamali din.

      But so far, we have made the editorial of our content and engagements tighter. Teddy’s consistently among the top 12 most engaging candidates. Nothing resonates more with the people than words that are sincere, earnest, and correct in articulating the problems our nation faces and in answering them comprehensive solutions.

    • Has social media and the Internet made campaigning easier or harder?
      It has indeed given opportunities for the champions of new politics to get the message across, but it is also replete with its own limitations and problems. The willingness of advocates to maximize all these new tools and venues for social change available to us is what will decide if it will be easier or harder.

  3. Moving forward: the road to 2016
    • Internet, social media, mobile device use will only boom in the following years. How do you think this will affect campaigns 3 years from now?
      Social media, like all scientific and technological advances, can be equally wielded both by those who seek change and those who maintain the status quo. Let us make sure that the people have the initiative to use these to their advantage.

  4. Parting messages from each campaign
    To our fellow netizens, the 2013 elections presents to us a unique opportunity to have our very own, a karaniwang tao, and a netizen through and through, in the Senate. We deserve to have our voice represented and heard echoing ever stronger in Congress. Ipanalo natin ang Karaniwang Tao, Teddy Casiño po sa Senado.

If you want to see the entire Hangout to see what the other social media operators (with much better connections) had to say, you can watch it here:

Notes on Teddy Casiño’s #ReaksyonTV5 Grilling

Props go to the #ReaksyonTV5 for their grilling of my #1 senatoriable, Teddy Casiño. The panel led by program anchor Luchi Cruz-Valdez included PCIJ’s Mei Magsino and Philippine Star EIC Amy Pamintuan, an ensemble who kept the pressure level high all throughout the discussion.


After going through the usual questions on his alleged linkages to the revolutionary New People’s Army and their Permits to Campaign, the panel did what other interviewers usually failed to do: talk about the issues. For the benefit of those who weren’t able to watch, here are a few notes on the points discussed:

  • The panel asked Teddy what he thinks about the taunting thrown his way by no less than President Benigno Aquino III himself on his 2.6 percent vote conversion showing in the then latest surveys. They also asked him what he thought of his 24th place showing in the said surveys.Teddy pointed out that even Aquino started with a much lower voter preference rating when he started to run for the presidency, and only experienced a meteoric rise to fame due to his larger-than-life parents Cory and Ninoy. Teddy said he was confident the ratings would improve dramatically during the campaign period as he shares his platforms, advocacies and analyses.

  • Teddy furthered that despite not having artistic fame or well-entrenched political dynasties, it is the Bayanihan kind of movement of dedicated and enthusiastic advocates that fuels his campaign. These supporters are completely different in motivation and commitment as opposed to professional operators and voting bases with which trapos spend millions on.

  • The panel pointed out the public perception of the Left as a fighter (a whiner, even) but with no concrete solutions presented. Teddy dispelled this by pointing out that the Left brings a concrete program of alternative policies and programs every time they engage in issue-based campaigns. He pointed out how media and critics tend to focus on the more ‘exciting’ critical exchanges and, of course, the standoffs in protest actions. Teddy presented three main programs of action: enacting genuine land reform and agricultural support, building Filipino industries to generate permanent jobs alongside meaningful wage increases, and the lowering of prices of utilities.

  • The panel also brought up the issue of the Left’s beef with Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in PH. Teddy pointed out that the Makabayan only wants to defend the constitutionally guaranteed right of Filipino industries to be given priority, harking back to the golden age of industrialization during the 1950s.The discussion here became very interesting. The panelists pointed out that the advocacy for industrialization was indeed during the 1950s but belonged there, while utilities and industries receiving an influx of FDI became more efficient and productive. Teddy refuted this idea, sharing the sentiments of local livestock producers being threatened by the entry of a Thai agri-industry giant given a six-year tax holiday and duty-free importation rights.

    Local producers challenged government to grant the tax holiday and other economic privileges, which they said would result in the domestic livestock industry becoming more productive and generating more revenue than that of the Thai firm. This concrete example was a golden pitch for greater state support for domestic industries, but it would have been stronger if Teddy was able to explain why the country would benefit from greater domestic capital flow as opposed to the vicious cycle of FDI and export capital.

  • Teddy explained the exorbitant price increases as just one of the resulting impacts of completely privatized and liberalized public utilities and industries to answer the point on more efficient services from the private sector. It would have been a more convincing argument if he cited data on price increase trends post-deregulation of the oil and other utilities, but I guess this is hard to recall in the heat of the discourse.

  • The panelists pointed out how militants have taken to increasingly violent actions. Teddy rooted the growing conflict in the growing desperation of the masses as government agencies such as the National Anti-Poverty Commission, Department of Agrarian Reform and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources continue to ignore the worsening plight of the poor.

  • On the question of inter-conflict among the Left, particularly between the Makabayan bloc and the Akbayan, Teddy focused on the question of Akbayan’s continuing claim of legitimate representation of the marginalized and under-represented. Indeed, most of Akbayan’s officials have been appointed to high government positions. This makes them a political party in power that can no longer claim themselves to be marginalized, as opposed to Makabayan being a coalition of clearly oppressed sectors of society.

  • I personally wanted to hear more of the policy and analysis differences between Makabayan and Akbayan. Akbayan’s apologism to the Aquino government has resulted in seriously flawed and compromising policy positions, such as their shooting down of the Student Rights and Welfare Bill and their defense of the Cybercrime Law.

  • Panelists pointed out the growing opinion that the Party-list system was a failed system that only wasted government funds, which Teddy clarified was a direct result of dynasties, big business interests and trapos hi-jacking the system. He agreed that the system is seriously flawed, but that the repeal of the system would only result in the further marginalization of the exploited masses.

Overall, it was nice to finally hear talk of the economy and other big-ticket issues that government must be addressing. It was truly a feat for Teddy to be on top of the discourse where all three panelists were machine-gunning questions all at the same time. Electoral discourses should take a leaf or two out of this interview. Tama talaga si Teddy: it is high time to bring in a higher level of campaigning in the 2013 elections.

In the interest of full disclosure, let me point out that I am one of Teddy’s full-time volunteer new media officers. All views are mine, not our movement’s.

The 2013 Elections and the Power of We

The theme of the 2012 Blog Action Day “Power of We” comes in a crucial moment in the Philippines’ history. We are in the midst of the 2013 national electoral campaign season, a point of both collective reflection and of change-making action. Though it is probably another circus of guns, goons and gold much like its previous instances, this coming election is of critical importance for many reasons that we all should heed.

First, the party-list system for the congressional representation of marginalized and underrepresented sectors is under fierce contestation between the public and the vested interests. We have all heard of the commendable efforts of the Commission on Elections to weed out party-list fronts for the wealthy and the dynasty aspirants. This is being met with criticism from traditional politicians, but we all know better.

But on the other hand, the COMELEC has hinted on the possibility that  party-lists that have proven their track records in promoting pro-people policies could be disqualified in the coming elections.
We can take it if COMELEC refers to Akbayan, a party-list whose nominees and officers have various positions of power in government that it looks like it’s the political party of President Noynoy Aquino’s cabinet. By all means, strip them down along with other pseudo-party-lists such as the Black and White Movement (all full of the King’s men!).

But if it becomes used to shoot down progressive and militant party-list groups such as patriotic party Bayan Muna and grassroots people’s party Anakpawis on the basis of mere technicality interpretations, it becomes a tool to hamper efforts to democratize a political institution that has never really democratically represented the majority of the people.

Second, and related to the party-list issue, the 2013 elections is the first time a progressive green party will actually attempt to participate in the national elections. The Kalikasan Green Party of the Philippines or Kalikasan Party-list aims to bring the issues of mining-affected communities, climate and disaster refugees and other vulnerable sectors affected by environmental destruction to congress.

We can make history if we are able to win a representation in Congress for the indigenous people, urban poor, peasants and workers who are exposed daily to various environmental problems. And our green representative(s) can be a formidable force in opposing such ecologically destructive policies as the Mining Act of 1995, the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law and the National Reclamation Plan.

Lastly, the 2013 elections could be the best year to expose the polarization between the corrupt dynasties and traditional politics on one hand, and the genuinely alternative politics of change on the other.

Let’s face the truth: there is virtually no difference between the corrupt senatoriables of dominant and opposing political party coalitions UNA and the Liberal Party connection. How can we expect a divergence from the current government track of human rights violations and other fascist tendencies, plunderous neoliberal economic policies and environmental and social service policies with no teeth?

But this political crisis is also an opportunity: the genuine democratic alternatives stand out from the rest. In fact, we have a lone independent and genuinely oppositionist candidate for the senate running on the platform of battling consumer price problems and pushing for good governance, and bearing a track record in congress on progressive legislation on the environment, human rights and social welfare.

He has neither a dynasty nor a powerful clan. He has been a consistent leader of the Philippine mass movement ever since he was a youthful activist in the country’s premiere state university.

His name is Teddy Casino. And he, like you and me, believes in the Power of We. In the 2013 elections, we will try to make a huge difference in Philippine history. We will defeat the foes of democracy, one disqualified party-list at a time. We will pioneer environmental advocacy in the halls of Congress. And we will fight tooth and nail to bring Teddy Casino’s senate bid to victory.

We will take back the government this coming 2013 running on the Power of We.###

P.S. Here’s my Senator Teddy Casino’s filing for candidacy. Some truly inspiring stuff.

Dr. Co’s Death Whitewashed

We all heard the infuriating news: the Department of Justice has just absolved the Armed Forces of the Philippines from any responsibility to the killings of the Kananga 3: top botanist Dr. Leonard Co, forester Sofronio Cortez, and farmer Julius Borromeo.


What makes it even more incredulous is the Inquirer headliner that announces: the NPA are responsible for the killings, and the Lopez-owned Energy Development Corp. (EDC) that hired Dr. Co’s team for the environmental mission that led to their deaths was also cited as responsible.


Earlier, progressive scientists group AGHAM led a fact-finding mission where it was concretely established that there was NO CROSSFIRE between the AFP and communist revolutionary forces from the NPA allegedly present in the area where Dr. Co was conducting a research for the EDC, the story which the AFP would want us to believe at the onset, where the only armed presence came from the AFP and the identified ammunition trajectories pointed to the advancing AFP forces.


Do they honestly take the scientific community for fools?


But this appears to be part of something bigger: a precursory look at today’s Inquirer print have exposed itself to be a state-run mouthpiece of the Aquino regime. The supposedly independent, “check-and-balance” Fourth Estate not only ran the DOJ’s whitewashing as its banner headline, it ran an editorial that praised Noynoy Aquinp’s “bad rice” gimmickry that also lionized the Liberal party and demonized Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano, who was merely being practical.


Its main letter to the editor is a thorough bashing of the revolutionary communist movement in the Philippines, clearly a one-sided piece that tries to describe the GRP-NDFP peace talks as a manifestation of weakness instead of an earnest want to address the roots of the armed conflict: poverty and systemic corruption.


Is this indoctrination at the national media scale in line with the state’s supposed Oplan Bayanihan (which is in line with the 2009 US Counter Insurgency Guide and is merely a recreation of Oplan Bantay Laya)? Apparently, it is.


I am reminded of how the issue of climate change, of which climate science has resoundingly proven as a fact and has called to action to, remains embattled in the halls of politics because of heavy, unfounded propaganda mixed with corporate-funded science and psuedo-science.


Is this a case of retrogressive political interest triumphing over progressive science and activism? Noynoy Aquino’s regime is proving to be no different to the past corrupt “dictatorships of the elite.”


Let us reiterate the call for justice. Prosecute the anti-people, “above the law” AFP. And lastly, what did the people call for in the past said administrations that failed to serve the people’s interests? OUST.

Sayang ang mga Aktibista?

May natunghayan akong debate sa facebook hinggil sa pangunahing ugat ng kahirapan ng Pilipinas. Sa isang panig, tinutukoy ang sistema ng pamamahala bilang ugat ng krisis sa iba’t ibang sektor. Sa kabila, isinasalarawan ang labis na populasyon bilang problemang labas sa kamay ng mga gobyerno, at siyang dahilan kung bakit maramingnagugutom at hindi nabibigyan ng serbisyong panlipunan.

Nasasayangan daw siya sa mga aktibistang kontra-gobyerno. Ganun? Heto ang naging tugon ko:


Napakadaling pagbintangan ang overpopulation. Pero kung susumahin mo ang likas-yaman ng Pilipinas mula sa agriculture, fisheries, at ating mga extractive industries ay kayang suportahan ang kasalukuyang populasyon ng Pilipinas.

Nagkakaroon ng gutom sa Pilipinas dahil yang gobyerno mo, nilalaan ang mga rekurso’t yaman ng kaban ng bayan sa katiwalian, serbisyo sa panlabas na utang, at pagtulak ng militarisasyon.

Sa bawat P1.22 na nilalaan sa serbisyong pangkalusugan, P14-16.00 ang nilalaan sa mga bala ng M-16. Sa bawat P6.00 na nilalaan sa edukasyon, P22.00 ang nilalaan sa utang-panlabas.

Hinggil sa Budget Priorities ng Gobyernong Pilipino. Nagmula ang Information Design na ito sa Center for Nationalist Studies - UPLB.

Ser, kung tatahimik ka nalang sa harap ng mga datos na ito, yun ang sayang.

Kahit anong kayod pa ng charity at civil society sa nakaraang dalawang dekada, walang nagbago sa mukha ng lipunang Pilipino. Bansot ang base ng ekonomiya, ang agrikultura — dahil pinapatay ang reporma sa lupa ng mga maka-panginoong may lupang polisiya tulad ng CARPER.

Nananatiling service and labor-export based ang ating mga “industriya” gayong ang kailangan natin ay mga medium to heavy industries ng mga kemikal, bakal, hardware, at teknolohiya para mahulma ang nagsasariling ekonomiya.

Dahil sino rin ba ang may hawak ng pumapasok na Official Development Assistance mula sa ibang bansa? Sino rin ba ang nagiging kasabwat ng mga dambuhalang korporasyon? Hindi ba ang pamahalaan — mula sa antas-pambansa hanggang sa LGUs?

SIGE, dun tayo sa overpopulation! Bakit ulet hindi naiimplement ang RH Bill? Bakit hindi pa rin ito napapasa? Kasi hinaharangan ito ng mga pulitikong lumuluhod sa lobby ng atrasadong simbahan. Salat sa political will ang gobyerno, at ito ang meron ang mga aktibistang kinasasayangan mo.

Ser, kung tatahimik ka nalang sa harap ng kaayusang ito, DAHIL lang sa “pumapangit ang pangalan” ng UP at nakakaapekto sa mga job interviewers, YUN ang sayang.