Wednesday, April 07, 2010

2010 election ‘will make or break' Philippines

2010 election ‘will make or break' Philippines
Pandayan para sa Sosyalistang Pilipinas
Chairperson: Boy Nuera
April 6, 2010

In less than five weeks more than fifty million Filipinos will be electing new leaders who will steer the Philippines in the next six years with hope that they will deliver us from the political and economic rut that exacerbate corruption and poverty.

Thus, the May 2010 Elections is a crucial time in our country’s convoluted political history. On June 30, 2010, we expect to see the much awaited departure of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo who has reigned for over nine years with her gang; and the proclamation and swearing in of the new leaders. Hence, we must ensure that this first automated election shall be handled in an honest and credible way by the Commission on Elections.

This is a make or break time for the Philippines. This election, if done successfully, represents a clean break from the corrupt and morally bankrupt administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her gang of greedy cronies; a break that will hopefully lead to a positive and new beginning.

Reports have been circulating of a ‘non-proclamation scenario’ due to a general failure of election or a selective failure of election due to the malfunction of precinct counting optical scan (PCOS) and other issues related to automation. We are worried that these machines will fail or will not read or count our votes accurately; some softwares are not reliable; some processes were done in non transparent way; and thousands of extra memory cards for the PCOS machines will be used to load up fake election results. These are serious allegations that the COMELEC should address. A faster way of counting our votes will be meaningless if the processes are under clouds of suspicion. A vote cast but not honestly counted is surely a waste.

Alarming is that we are being conditioned of a military takeover in case of a failure of election. Worst of all, they will install Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as the interim head of a transition government. If these things happen, it is the end of the line for our country. We will surely be in an endless cycle of poverty, moral degradation and political mayhem.

We strongly believe that our democracy, with all its imperfection, is now under attack and Filipinos must fight tooth and nail against these evil plots. We believe that another uprising of the people is not far-fetched should they try these things.

We are urging the Filipino people to guard against any effort to rob us out of our votes through massive cheating or a naked grab of power that will perpetuate GMA and her gang to stay in power. We must show the international community that notwithstanding the election circus that we are in, we, as a nation, can collectively stand up and choose our leaders in a smooth and honest way.

Friday, January 29, 2010

muzzling of the media in South Korea

The democratic gains South Korea has achieved in the past years have slowly eroded under the Lee Myung-bak's regime. Recent efforts by this administration to control broadcast media has been widely criticized by human rights organizations.

The recent attacks on freedom of expression and communication in South Korea took for the worst when the Korean Film Council, under the pretense of budget cuts, decided to shut down the operations of Mediact, the first public media center in South Korea. If things go as planned, Mediact will cease to operate on February 1.

Advocates of free expression and communications rights have circulated a petition to oppose this attack on media freedom in South Korea. Please read, sign and forward the petition.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cybercrime Bill threatens freedom of expression online, encroaches on our privacy

I am extremely concerned with the passage of HB 6794 or the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2009. This bill is a serious threat to our fundamental right to privacy as well as the freedom of expression online.

Many of us do not realize that this bill does not only affect the estimated 24 million internet users in the country but also the more than 70 million mobile phone subscribers. This bill not only penalizes cybercrimes committed using computers but also those acts using mobile phones as defined in Section 3 of the bill.

While I agree with the critique on the vague definition of some of the terms of the bill (i.e., computer data', 'recording of private acts'), I am more worried on the provisions of the bill on data collection and retention. Under Section 10, law enforcement agencies are authorized to collect or record 'traffic data.' Meanwhile, Section 11 states that services providers are ordered to preserve data for six months or up to 1 year if so ordered by law enforcement authorities.

This is dangerous and unacceptable. I believe that the collection and preservation of what this bill calls as traffic or computer data will pave the way for the government to do mass surveillance. It gives the government the power to not only monitor alleged cybercrime perpetrators but also political opponents such as the opposition and political and human rights activists.

Retaining data creates risk of abuse by the State and law enforcement agencies. These data will be a very powerful tool to intimidate and silence critics and activists. We all know how skilled some of our security agencies and other government organizations in manipulating and twisting information. Just remember martial law.

Data retention prevents open communication and the free flow of information as it creates an atmosphere of fear and put pressure on the users to 'behave' as exchanging critical information might incriminate them later. Some will even resort to not communicating at all as it puts them at risk. It is like being under the martial law regime where one needs to be careful about what he says or expresses. This is not good for a democracy like ours which encourages active participation of citizens in every aspect of the society.

Collecting and storing of data for a certain period of time also encourage identity thefts. How can we be sure that our most private data are secured from hackers and identity thieves. And who will pay for data storage? Is it the service provider or the government? If it is the latter then it is another unnecessary burden to us, the taxpayers, considering the potentially high cost of data storage given the narrow definition of traffic data in the bill.

I urge the lawmakers to pause and carefully consider the issues raised against the bill.