Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Text for Truth, Join HALALANG MARANGAL


4th Floor PRRM Bldg., 56 Mother Ignacia Ave., Quezon City Tel. 371-2107
http://halal. interdoc. org

Halalang Marangal (HALAL) hereby announces that its program to conduct a citizens' audit of the May 2007 elections is on track. HALAL is ready to work with all stakeholders, such as non-partisan election monitoring groups, political parties, and the COMELEC, to collect precinct- level election results and make these results available to the public for audit. We will be ready for the 2007 elections.
Since May 2006, HALAL has been testing its system thoroughly and laying down the groundwork for a successful citizens' audit. HALAL is now testing its connections to the cellphone network and the Internet, to ensure that field watchers will be able to send in their reports by text/SMS or email. Because cellphones sites and Internet cafes now cover most of the archipelago, any volunteer who has access to a cellphone or an email address can participate in the HALAL effort.

The HALAL concept is very simple: we offer our system to existing networks of partisan and non-partisan watchers, who can send us by text/SMS or email the precinct-level election results they collect in the field. Our own network of watchers will also be doing so, but we all need to work together, including the political parties, to cover the whole country.

As soon as a complete precinct-level report reaches us, we will make it available to the public for access, by text/SMS or through the Internet. This way, ordinary citizens, the media, election monitors, political parties and even official bodies can compare the precinct results in our database with the precinct tally board results they actually saw with their own eyes, and
confirm if they match or not.

If the HALAL database of precinct results passes this real-time public audit, it can then be used to audit the official results at the municipal, provincial and national levels.

HALAL is not competing with existing election monitors. Our system complements the efforts of all who are working in the field. It will make their efforts even more useful by combining them with the reports of others, to generate a true picture of how the people actually voted, in a way that can be audited in real-time by any interested party.

We invite all groups, including CER, PPCRV, NAMFREL, other election monitors, the political parties and the members of the Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) to send precinct reports to the HALAL system and help the public confirm the true results of the May 2007 elections.

The HALAL board of directors consist of Sen. Wigberto TaƱada, retired COMELEC Commissioner Mehol Sadain, Gen. Francisco Gudani (ret.), former St. Scholastica' s College president Sr. Mary John Mananzan, 2004 TOYM awardee Atty. Ma. Paz Luna, PRRM senior vice-president Isagani Serrano, and IT specialist Roberto Verzola. # (January 12, 2007)
*For confirmation, please contact Roberto Verzola, 371-2107, 0921-250-5520


(Network of Citizens for Honest Elections and Truthful Statistics)

1. What is Halalang Marangal?
Halalang Marangal (Network of Citizens for Honest Elections And Truthful Statistics) is an organization that wants to help keep elections and referendums honest by conducting truthful, transparent tallies.

2. How will it help keep tallies honest and transparent?
By asking watchers in every voting precinct to collect election results right after the counting in voting places ends, and storing these results in a database, where they will remain disaggregated by precinct. So, anyone can request from the database, by text/SMS or thru the Internet, any precinct result as well as municipal, provincial or national summaries.

3. Who will collect the precinct results?
Volunteer watchers will do so, by sending data from the field through text/SMS messages, with their cellphone number serving as their ID. The reports will also be counter-checked against the actual official electoral precinct documents: the election returns (ERs) or certificate of votes (COVs).

4. Who can request data from the Halalang Marangal database?
Anyone with a cellphone (almost 40 million Filipinos now have them) or an Internet connection can request data anytime from the HALAL database, which can be queried thru text messaging, email or the Web. Anyone can also get the entire database from the Internet. or in CDs.

5. How does one request precinct results from the database?
Send a short text message (pcint? ) to a special cellphone number.

6. Why is it useful to get the results from one's precinct?
Voters can now ensure that the true results at their precinct are actually canvassed correctly at the national level, as follows: a) at the precinct level, personally observe the count and jot down the results; and b) at the national level, confirm that these results are identical to those recorded in the national database of precinct returns. It will only take a few text messages (pcint , pcint p.2, etc.) to get the results. To add to the report's weight, you can also confirm it with another message (phone true/tru/ok).

If ordinary voters can ensure the integrity of every precinct return in the national database, they are also collectively ensuring the integrity of the municipal, provincial and national totals. In contrast, in the official or NAMFREL tallies, teachers, watchers and the public have no way at all to check/ensure that their precinct results have actually been correctly canvassed at the national level.

7. Can anybody text a precinct report?
Yes, anybody can text a report. When you text for a precinct result ( pcint ), you will receive several text messages in a specific report format. You must text all of them back, but before you do, edit the votes where your data differs with the current report. You may omit candidates with zero votes. But every single vote must be reported.

However, reports sent in by our trained volunteers have more weight than those sent in by the public. If you really want to help by sending election reports, it is better to do so as a volunteer.

8. What about people who send in a false report?
We expect that cheats will try to pollute the database and undermine the credibility of the network by sending in false reports or even volunteering under false pretenses However, these cheats will have to contend with the following:

* Reports from our volunteers will carry more weight than reports from the public.
* Once a cellphone number is used to send or confirm a precinct report, it cannot be used to send/confirm reports in other precincts. Thus cheats can use their cellphone number for one precinct only, limiting the damage they can cause.

* The cellphone number of the sender will also be posted on the database, together with the report, so cheats are risking that their number will be recognized by acquaintances.
* A report's weight varies as the number of people confirming the report. We believe that there are many more honest Filipinos than cheats, so truthful reports will get more confirmations.
* Reports will be verified against the actual precinct documents, so even where several cheats conspire to send and confirm a false report, they will eventually be found out.

This should discourage all but the most brazen election cheats, who can still be found out.

9. I am already part of another election watch organization.
Can I still join? Yes, just register your phone with us (text: REG), join the trial runs, get the precinct results on election day, and text them to our database. However, it is best if you encourage your organization to become a HALAL partner. As partner, your organization will have full access to the HALAL system, will get full training support from us, and will be part of HALAL decision-making.

Join us, and help determine the true results in the next elections. To volunteer, please get in touch with a HALAL member who knows you personally and can vouch for you. For more details, please check www.geocities.com/no.cheats.

If you want us to make a presentation in your organization, please contact: Roberto Verzola, rverzola@gn.apc.org, 0921-250-5520.

Draft (October 2006)

Watchers' Manual for HALAL Volunteers and Partners

1. Duties of volunteer watchers:
Before the elections:
* Get the exact name and postal zipcode of your voting center.
* Join the regular trial runs every 15th-17th of the month.
* Recruit and train each month 2 more members you trust will send truthful reports. Keep their numbers in your cellphone directory and pass all announcements to them.

On election day:
* If a voter, cast your vote as early as possible.
* When the precinct closes, text the poll evaluation report.
* Observe the canvassing. When it is over, jot down the final tally board results. Get an official, signed copy of the results (Certificate of Votes or ER 6th copy) and give it to the Voting Center Coordinator.
* From your notes (which should agree with the tally board and the official copies), enter the correct votes into the precinct report form you downloaded during the dry runs. Double check carefully. If ok, text each page of your report and then confirm, as in the dry runs.

2. Inviting applicants
* Applicants must have a cellphone.
* Invite only as many as you can conveniently communicate with by voice or text (say, 12 more).
* Preferably face-to-face, instruct them to register their phone with the HALAL numbers: 0920-244-5184 (Smart), 0927-418-5178 (Globe). See next section (III) for detailed instructions.
* After they have completed the registration process, help them go through a complete trial run. Afterwards, do not forget to promote your applicants to members with the command:
MOST IMPORTANT: Choose only those whom you can personally vouch for and trust to honestly report precinct election results. Watch out for political operators who want to infiltrate us with cheats who will purposely undermine the network. If you are not sure, don't invite. If you trust your prospective recruit but are concerned that he might bring in untrustworthy people, don't invite. Volunteers from other election watch groups as well as teachers on poll duty are welcome, as long as they pass our criteria. Persons who are part of the campaign organization of a politician or a political party may not join. (We will conduct separate talks with political parties.)

3. Information for applicants
Invited applicants should register by texting the correct information to the designated HALAL numbers: Smart/0920-244-5184, Globe/0927-418-5178. (The old command APPLY will also work.)
Registration format: REG , , ,
Sample text: REG juan dela cruz, govt employee, 07 feb 75, 18 matapat st., brgy. dimadaya, manila
Example: PCENTER sikatuna village barangay hall, 1101
Join the trial runs every 15th - 17th of each month (text TRY, then STEP1, STEP2 and STEP3) and learn to send a report. Because a text message should not exceed 160 characters (even if your phone can handle longer messsages), your report will consist of several messages (candidates with zero votes can be omitted). These are the trial run commands you can text:

TRY – sends back instructions on the trial run and the 3 steps that comprise it (may be skipped)
STEP1 – sends back instructions about STEP1 of the trial run (may be skipped later)
STEP2 – sends back instructions about STEP2 of the trial run (may be skipped later)
STEP3 – sends back instructions about STEP3 of the trial run (may be skipped later)
GET or GET -- requests a page of the report form (next page or the specified page)
PCINT -- all report form pages start with this command. Edit these pages, enter the correct vote data, double check, then send back. The edited pages are your actual election reports.
PCINT OK – confirms your report, making it official

In one trial run that includes the instructions, you will text the following: TRY, STEP1, as many GET as the number of pages in a report form, STEP2, as many PCINT commands as the number of pages in the report you are sending, and finally PCINT OK.

7. To reduce cost, skip the instructions, and text only the following: several GETs to get the report form, several PCINTs to send your report, and PCINT OK to confirm it. During the actual election reporting period, you can skip the GETs and send only the PCINT commands, to send each page (STEP2) and then to confirm the entire report (STEP3).
The best way to learn is to try it. (And remember that STEP2, is different: you have to edit the report pages you received earlier, enter the correct votes, then send each page back). We suggest that members from the same polling center hold face-to-face meetings to conduct the trial/dry runs together and to plan how to cover every precinct in their voting center.
Important: Use the correct letters or numbers. Do not interchange the letter “ow” (in keypad MNO) and the number zero, or the letter “ell” (in keypad JKL) and the number one. Since you will enter mostly numbers, you may want to set your keypad to numeric entry.
For more details, please check www.geocities.com/no.cheats or contact Roberto Verzola, rverzola@gn.apc.org, 0921-250-5520.

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