An Open Letter to Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte from Concerned Citizens Against Economic Slavery

May 13, 2016

Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte
City Hall, Davao City

Dear Mayor and incoming President of the Philippines:

I am writing you in order to convey to you a very important request in connection with the state of corruption here in my place, Lapu-Lapu City.

Before I may articulate my request, however, please allow me to give you a brief sketch about myself, as follows:

I am a septuagenarian and a lawyer by profession. I am not a politician, though, but I have been deeply involved in anti-corruption campaign in my place which made some people here to think that I am into politics. To underline my point, politics is not in my blood; and, if ever I join with those who are at the fore of the campaign against government corruption, the elixir that pushes me is not the fervor of politics but the feeling of compulsion to see that the people’s taxes are spent on such legitimate purposes as would benefit all, not only to a select few with political kinship with those in power. In short, my involvement in anti-corruption activities is not animated by personal reasons.

Going to my request, you may please find the same to be just a small item in your inventory of tasks to do for the fulfillment of your promise to eliminate government corruption. More specifically, my request refers to a number of counts of criminal indictment against Mayor Paz Radaza of Lapu-Lapu City before the Sandiganbayan in Manila and Branch 56 of the Regional Trial Court stationed in Mandaue City.

It may be recalled that a few months before the start of the election period for the May 9, 2016 national and local elections, the Sandiganbayan issued an order, directing the suspension from office of Mayor Radaza in connection with the aforesaid cases pending with said graft court. Incidentally, she was then the chief endorser in Lapu-Lapu City of the “Daang Matuwid” program of the outgoing president; and, for reasons not far from her being a member of the Liberal Party, the suspension order had merely hogged the headlines of both the national and local newspapers, while its implementation was freezing cold elsewhere.

My request, therefore, are only the following: (a) to please do something that would activate the implementation of the aforesaid suspension order; and (b) to please do also anything within your power to hasten the trial of Mayor Radaza’s aforementioned criminal cases.

At this point, please allow me to state that your pre-election promises has animated me to campaign for you, believing as I did that you will have no problem in replicating your success in Davao City in effecting control against graft and corruption, criminality and illegal drug. Along this line, it may not be amiss to tell you that I may have been the first to congratulate you through Facebook for your victory on the basis merely of the counting trend in your favor which I then saw to be irreversible.

Hoping that my foregoing request will find its way to your to-do list, I beg to remain

Yours very sincerely,

Organizer, Concerned Citizens Against Economic Slavery

Election 2016 VP Tally and Cheating Allegations

By: Jerome Auza

The Vice Presidential race has become so heated and allegations of cheating are flying all over traditional media and social media. Technical buzzwords suddenly became topics of conversations which added to the confusion. The terms hash, character encoding, digital signature and many more are discussed by people who are not necessarily experts on these matters.


The issues started when Bongbong Marcos initially led the unofficial tally but was quickly overtaken by Leni Robredo. The two candidates now have votes over 13M each but Robredo leads only by a thin margin. Marcos alleged that COMELEC modified the tally. The allegation became somewhat credible because a Smartmatic programmer made a cosmetic change on the software to properly display the enye character which initially showed up as a question mark. To make matters worse, the programmer broke protocol because he did not get an approval from the COMELEC before making the change.

Fortunately for the Filipino people, COMELEC did the right process in conducting the random manual audit (RMA). In a previous post, I expressed my worry that the RMA could be manipulated because the initial reports was that the precincts to be audited are to be selected before the elections. However, in the 2016 elections, the actual precincts for audit were selected on May 10 or after the election results were transmitted to the servers. This means any form of cheating at the vote counting machine (VCM) level can be detected.

Any modification of tally results can be verified from any of the three independent servers that the VCMs connected to and submitted the results. One server is used by the COMELEC for its unofficial and official tally. Another one is used by PPCRV and the other by NAMFREL. The independent nature of PPCRV and NAMFREL is intended to ensure that the COMELEC tally can be verified.

In other words, cheating by simply manipulating the tally simply wouldn’t work because that can be detected by looking at the NAMFREL and PPCRV tallies. Cheating by preprogramming results at the VCM level can be detected by the RMA. The combination of the RMA and the independent tallies by PPCRV and NAMFREL makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to manipulate the results.

I think it is irresponsible for people to allege that cheating has occurred simply because initially Marcos led the tally but later on Robredo took the lead. That situation was easily explained by the fact that the areas that favored Marcos where the ones that were able to send their results first. The areas that favored Robredo sent their results at a later time.

Those making the allegations must be able to show that COMELEC, NAMFREL and PPCRV tallies are significantly different. Then they should show that the precints were the alleged cheating has happened have a mismatch of data from the three servers.

We wish for certainty of the VP results by this time, but unfortunately the results are still too close to call. We probably just have to wait until all the ballots are officially tallied by COMELEC and certified by NAMFREL and PPCRV to be the same as that on their own servers.

Go out and vote!

By: Jerome Auza

In all the elections since I was old enough to understand politics, I have never seen so much divisiveness among the Filipinos during an election. I saw arguements with lawyers, priests, professionals of various backgrounds for and against certain candidates. Social media has made all the bickering even more intense.

One thing for sure, there is already a change that I can observe. For the first time, I have heard many people who say that the expected “uwan-uwan”, “inangayan” and other names we sugarcoat the act of vote buying, will not affect their choice of candidates.

I have seen on social media several posts that shame candidates who still do vote buying. At the same time, there is one national candidate who is keen on not buying votes. Indeed, I can say that the Filipino voters have matured already and have felt that they can control the destiny of our country through their sacred vote.

In Talibon Diocese, the clergy is actively campaigning against vote buying and this is something new because in the past, we only hear it in the sermons but now, you can see posters with strongly worded messages reminding the people about the sanctity of their vote. For sure there are many more parishes and dioceses throughout the country that are doing the same.

I envision a Philippines in the near future where vote buying will become a thing of the past. My hope is that the Filipino people will no longer need to accept offers of vote buying because they don’t need to accept the small amount of money because they have something to eat anyway every day.

On May 9, let us all go out and vote. Let us choose the leaders that we think can lead this country to build on the gains already achieved by the previous administrations while fixing what still needs fixing. Let us vote because we sincerely believe that they are the right candidates rather than because we received “inangayan” from these candidates.

Let us also pray for a peaceful elections and also for peaceful turn-over to the next administration. May our heated debates on Facebook be put behind after May 9. Let us all unite together as a country, no matter what our beliefs, origins, religion, affiliation or opinion.

But the work doesn’t end when the elected officials are declared. It is just the beginning. Let us all contribute to the improvement of our nation in our own small ways. Let us all work for peace and hopefully end the conflict that has been there for decades.

Lastly, let us all remain vigilant against abuses of government and do our part in order to make this country even better.

COMELEC Random Manual Count Audit Can be Manipulated

By: Jerome Auza

To my dismay, COMELEC again decided to select and announce the precincts that will be manually audited before completion of the election process on May 9, 2016. In the 2013 elections, the random manual count audit precincts were known two days before. This year, they will be known in the morning of May 9.

The vote counting machine.

The vote counting machine.

Why am I dismayed? Simple, if the precincts for random manual count audit are known before the actual casting of ballots and printing of results, there is still a chance of electronic cheating that cannot be detected even with NAMFREL and PPCRV doing a parallel tally. A clever programmer can simply add code in the vote counting machine (VCM) to activate a routine that would check if the VCM is included in the RMA list. If it is included, it will count the real votes so that the manual count audit and the election returns will match.

If the VCM is not included in the list, then the VCM will simply output a pre-programmed result on the print outs and on the data that it will send to COMELEC and other recipients. The list can exist somewhere in the network that the VCMs can connect to.

The window of opportunity to do output the rigged results is the time between the VCM goes online and before the election returns are printed. This is possible because once the VCM can go online, it can already check if it is included in the list for audit.

The RMA is supposed to prevent cheating in the ballot counting. It could do that job if the selection of the precincts for audit is done after the VCMs have submitted the results electronically. This is because all precincts may be subject to RMA and once the results are sent out, these can no longer be changed. All precincts must have correct count otherwise there is risk that the RMA will be able to find discrepancies in the counts.

In addition, the selection of the precincts for audit is done using a “program”, most likely a computer program. This opens up another opportunity to cheat because who knows if the output of the program is already predetermined? In 2010, this was done through a joint effort by COMELEC, NAMFREL and PPCRV. In that election, the RMA was done correctly and did its purpose.

It is my hope that even with this possibility of cheating, COMELEC can handle all the work that needs to be done. To pull off the cheating I described above, there should be at least one very clever programmer with privileged access to the systems, a go signal from the top level people at COMELEC and lots of cash for motivation.

Whoever gets elected, the citizens must accept it. However, any form of manipulation of the results will not be good for the country.

Unstoppable Rody


By Manny Piñol
This is a phenomenon which social and political scientists will have to seriously study in the future, this bizarre spectacle of people who wait for hours just to see a man who has been the subject of endless media attacks and vilification campaign.

Yesterday in Cavite, a province with 1.8-million voters, people waited for four hours and many more, who hoped that presidential frontrunner Rody Duterte would pass their way, stayed up until midnight.


This was the scene even after five days of relentless attacks on Duterte over his controversial narrative on the rape and killing of an Australian preacher 27 years ago, his verbal jousts with the envoys of the US and Australia, his foul language and even a psychological report pilfered from the documents related to the annulment of his marriage with Elizabeth Zimmerman, mother of his three older children.

I can just imagine the consternation of those who are desperately splurging hundreds of millions of pesos for an endless media campaign against Duterte seeing the size of the crowd steadily growing in the most unlikely places.

Bacolod, Iloilo, Aklan and yesterday Cavite. These areas were previously considered “unfriendly territories.”

Bacolod, Iloilo and Aklan are acknowledged Liberal Party (LP) playgrounds where Manuel Roxas III is supposed to be the favorite but the crowds came and rooted for the Guest Team.

Cavite was the garden Vice President Jejomar Binay tended to for several years now watering the local political leaders with cash.

The province was his until his local partners, the powerful Remulla political clan apparently slighted by the actions of Binay’s children, decided to call it quits and left the garden open for other harvesters.

Based on the number and enthusiasm of the crowd yesterday, it looks like Cavite will go to Duterte with or without the political gardeners.

So with a little over two weeks left in the campaign, Duterte faces his date with destiny with over 60% of Mindanao’s 12 million voters behind him, over 50% of Cebu’s 2.8-million voters, 34% of Metro Manila’s 6-million plus voters and now the prospect of winning majority of Cavite’s 1.8-million electorates.

Adding to the headache of his political opponents is the result of the recent ABS-CBN commissioned Pulse Asia survey for the period April 12 to 17 which showed Duterte at 34%, twelve full percentage points ahead of Grace Poe Llamanzares whose numbers continued to drop.

Binay comes in third with 20% while Roxas remained in fourth place with 18%.

Roxas, whose group along with Binay’s, is believed to be behind the black propaganda blitz against Duterte, is not expected to move up as many of his allies are now deserting him.

The most recent loss for Roxas was Gov. Joey Salceda of Albay who joined Poe’s camp. Many others are expected to leave the LP as the election draws near.

So what is it with Duterte that he seems to have a Kevlar body armour that makes him almost unaffected by the attacks?

Maybe, just maybe, this is not really about or because of Duterte.

This could be about the people themselves. They may have reached a point of frustration with government and the system that they have become numbed and hardheaded.

They do not want to listen anymore, not to Duterte’s foul language or his opponents vicious attacks.

They have chosen Duterte because they see him as the uncouth, foul-mouthed, rough and tough guy who will watch over them and their children as they sleep peacefully at night.

This episode in the history of our country and our people could be a good case study for social scientists on human behaviour and for political scientists to determine at what point of government corruption, inefficiency, unchecked criminality and drugs-proliferation do people’s emotions reach a melting point.

This is the Duterte Syndrome.

Reposted with permission from Manny Piñol.

(Photos of Cavite crowd downloaded from the Facebook page of Noel Landera Sarifa and a Duterte supporter; Novaliches crowd photos taken by Charles Maxey. Only one photo is used in this article but the original post had several photos.)

PH Economy Improvement: When did it start?

By: Jerome Auza

I cringe every time I see a chart on my Facebook wall showing economy indicators “improving” during the Pres. Benigno Aquino administration. The way most of these charts are shown do indicate that a lot has improved in this administration, which is true, by the way. The problem is that these charts are not showing a complete picture and oftentimes fail to show the achievements by the previous administration.

You see, I deal with charts and charts data every day of my professional life. And with the computerized tools currently available for anyone to generate charts and publish them, it is easy to intentionally or unintentionally mislead the readers by showing a chart to highlight an improvement.

So I raise an eyebrow if I see telltale signs that a chart can be misleading. For example, someone declared that “Unemployment, went down consistently. From 7.3% in GMA’s administration, to 5.8% now.” Then the graph in Figure 1 is shown:

PH Unemployment rate from 2006 to 2016.

Figure 1. PH Unemployment rate from 2006 to 2016. Source:, Bureau of the Treasury, Philippines

What’s wrong with this chart is that the percentage numbers shown do not start from zero and thus you see a zoomed in line which shows a downward trend. It shows that the unemployment rate improved in 2010, when Aquino became president. But what if we look at all the data from further back? In Figure 2, we see a longer trend from 1996.

Figure 2.  PH Unemployment rate from 1996 to 2016.

PH Unemployment rate from 1996 to 2016. Source:, Bureau of the Treasury, Philippines

The biggest drop in unemployment rate happened in 2005. Is this because of GMA’s achievement in generating jobs at that time? It’s hard to say because the unemployment definition was changed at that time. The old definition of unemployed considered only two criteria:

1) Without work and looking for work; or
2) Without work and not looking for work due to valid reasons.

And the current definition consists of persons in the labor force who are reported as (1) without work; and (2) currently available for work; and (3) seeking work or not seeking work because of the belief that no work is available, or awaiting results of previous job application, or because of temporary illness or disability, bad weather or waiting for rehire or job recall. The new definition of unemployed was adopted starting April 2005 per NSCB Resolution No. 15 dated October 20, 2004

One thing is clear though: that from 2005, the unemployment rate is trending down already and towards 2016, it seems to go downward faster. Perhaps if the 2008 worldwide financial crisis didn’t happen, we could have even better unemployment numbers.

So in short, the unemployment number was trending down already prior to 2010 and the Aquino administration maintained the downward trend and possibly increased the downward rate towards 2016. So it is right that the unemployment numbers improved in Aquino’s administration. It should also worth mentioning that the improvement started in GMA’s administration.

We see similar thing happening for GDP. Figure 3 shows the GDP from 2006 while Figure 4 shows GDB from 1960. The GDP rise started in 2002, went down a bit in 2010 and continued the trend upwards after that. If you look only at Figure 3, you will conclude that Aquino did a very good job in improving the GDP. However, if you look at Figure 4, the trend started in GMA’s time and it just simply continued the trend. Also, it seems that in 2014, the trend upwards may have started to slow down. We will know for sure after the 2015 data will be available.

Figure 3.  PH GDP from 1996 to 2014

Figure 3. PH GDP from 1996 to 2014. Source:, Bureau of the Treasury, Philippines

Figure 4. PH GDP from 1960 to 2014.

Figure 4. PH GDP from 1960 to 2014. Source:, Bureau of the Treasury, Philippines

And my last example is the PH Debt to GDP ratio. Figure 5 shows an apparently very significant improvement during Aquino’s administration, approximately 7 points improvement. However, Figure 6 shows that the biggest improvement in that ratio happened in GMA’s administration, around 20 points from the highest point until 2010 and the trend just continued in Aquino’s administration.

PH Debt to GDP Ration from 1996 to 2015.  Source:, Bureau of the Treasury, Philippines

PH Debt to GDP Ration from 1996 to 2015. Source:, Bureau of the Treasury, Philippines

PH Debt to GDP Ration from 1990 to 2015.  Source:, Bureau of the Treasury, Philippines

PH Debt to GDP Ration from 1990 to 2015. Source:, Bureau of the Treasury, Philippines

In summary, one should be careful not to be misled by a chart that do not show a complete picture. Charts are supposed to communicate a lot of information quickly but an incorrectly drawn chart could be misleading. In politics, it is common practice to tout an achievement by showing partial information on a chart. Watch out for zoomed in data as it would be difficult to assess the relative values on the timeline. This is especially true for long term trends like the economic indicators of the country.

In conclusion, it is very obvious that the significant improvements in the economic indicators started to improve significantly during GMA’s term and continued on by the Aquino administration. Both administrations should be commended for successfully improving our economy. Hopefully such trend will continue as the next president takes over later this year.