Monday, October 9, 2006

Pseudoscientific Inanities In Ombudsman's Resolution

The Ombudsman's Supplemental Resolution contains several lines of argument that are patently intended to contradict the Supreme Court's main conclusions about Comelec's award of contract to MegaPacific Consortium. Of almost purely technical substance is the finding that the Comelec had awarded the contract to MPC despite the fact that its system had failed seven or eight of the Technical Evaluation Tests on 27 key requirements conducted by Dept. of Science and Technology (DOST). In order to excuse this clear breach of duty by the Comelec, the Ombudsman's report presents testimony that purportedly shows the failures to be associated with "the software" and not with "the hardware." Then, the Ombudsman quotes Secretary Alabastro of DOST making the assertion that the pre-award evaluation tests were only tests of the hardware. From the Ombudsman's Supplemental Resolution"--
In this connection, the testimonies of the DOST resource persons given during the 27 July 2006 hearing are worth quoting, thus:

ATTY. LOPEZ
Q Ma’am what software was used by Mega Pacific during this testing?

SECRETARY E. ALABASTRO
A As I understand, it is some kind of a generic software. That’s why, a software will still have to be developed that is customized to the Philippine setting, to the Philippine election requirements and that was supposed to have been tested in January of 2004. It’s unfortunate, we did not proceed because of the Supreme Court ruling.

Q So, at that point, when you tested it was only a generic software. Was there a requirement that there’ll be a final software present or made available to DOST for testing at that time? April 1 to April 3, 2003?

A It was just the generic software, Your Honor and . . .

Q And in your experience Ma’am, would a generic software be sufficient at that time, to determine whether the machines would work as per requirement set out by the procuring party?

A Well, just the capacity of the machine, I guess to perform using this particular generic software. Anyway, it was the hardware that was being tested.
I suppose we must take into account the fact that Sec. Alabastro, with no disrespect intended, is actually trained as a Chemical Engineer and not a computer professional. So we may excuse the INANITY of this last statement when one considers the simple fact that the OPTICAL MARK READERS employed by the ACM hardware supplied by MPC, rely on SOFTWARE to work.

Moreover, take a look at one of the Key Requirements that MPC failed (#20) as quoted in the Supreme Court Decision:
20. Is the Program able to detect previously downloaded precinct results and prevent these from being inputted again into the System?
That's NOT hardware you were supposed to be testing in Requirement No. 20, M'am! What's that funny sound the Sassy Lawyer makes sometimes in these situations? Oh yeah. DUH!

But the Ombudsman CANNOT be excused for insulting at least the intelligence of the average reader of Philippine Commentary -- though it remains to be seen if such average will be maintained in the ranks of the Justices of the Supreme Court.

The Chief Justice, Artemio Panganiban, certainly has the mental apparatus and specific knowledge to understand how UTTERLY RISIBLE that statement put in the mouth of Sec. Alabastro by a clever Ombudslawyer, actually is. How inane it is! The 27 requirements of the RFP were clearly SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS, with hardware and software virtually indistinguishable.

It was however, very important for the Ombudsman to try and obscure the clear pattern of bad faith, partiality and negligence that accompanied the award of contract. Thus the need to make a clearly amateurishly wrong and quaintly naive proposition about the true relationship between HARDWARE and SOFTWARE in the real world.

Instead, she has only succeeded in revealing the patterns of criminal graft and corruption to the observant by an inadvertent presentation of even cherry-picked testimonies.

2 comments:

manuelbuencamino said...

DJB,

Great series on the Ombudsman's decision.


By the way, since optical readers pala ang ACMs how do mismarkings by voters factor into the evaluation of the system? Will there be a tendency for a lot more spoiled ballots using this system? How will the counting process be done? Will the precint election board decide first which ballots are unspoiled before they are fed to the ACM? Where do you see mischief occuring in this particular ACM system? And how easy or hard will it be to cheat>

Rizalist said...

MB,
I shall be dealing with that very point about the inability of the ACMs to reject improperly shaded ballots, which seems to be CENTRAL to their capability. In the Ombudsman's report there is testimony showing that the DOST reported this failure as the main feature of its evaluation. Yet the comelec proceeded to ignore this, even ordering "verification tests" in which some fancy analysis was done to hand wave away the failure. It is part of the PATTERN of bad faith, partiality and negligence of which Comelec is clearly and convincingly guilty.