EDSA@30, Heroes Unlooked For: A Tale on the COMELEC 35

Mike Togle
February 24, 2016

The Philippines was under Martial Law from its declaration on 21 September 1972 through Proclamation 1081 until the first People Power Revolution on 25 February 1986.

During the Snap Presidential Election in 1985, several of the NCC’s software engineers noticed glaring discrepancies in the tally. Eventually, the continued manipulation of the vote made nearly three dozen of these men and women to walk out in protest. They were called the “COMELEC 35.”

And one of them was Pointwest’s very own Achie Concepcion-Jimenez.

Today, Achie is Pointwest’s head of the Process Improvement Engineering (PrImE) Group, that handles the company’s Process and Security Management Systems. Before taking this role, she was head of the company’s division that ensured Pointwest’s adherence to international standards and security protocols.

In the thirtieth year anniversary of the People Power Revolution, Pointwest decided to ask Achie about what really went down in those heady days after the COMELEC 35 lit the fuse for what would eventually become the world’s first bloodless revolution.

The Interview

Pointwest (PTC)
How did you get the job at the National Computer Center for the Snap Elections tabulation?
PTC
What was your role during the tabulation? We’re curious about the process used to determine that most important of elections in the history of the country.
PTC
At what point did the cheating become clear and how was it being done? How did you and your fellow COMELEC 35 notice or discover it?
PTC
History describes the walkout of the COMELEC 35 in heroic terms. But was it really just to “get a drink”, cool your heads as it were? If you all had just gotten a drink and a break, what would have been your move after?
PTC
Stories are out there in the Net about the time you and the rest of the COMELEC 35 were hiding fit for a Hollywood political suspense movie. How was it, really, from someone who went through it?
PTC
From an IT perspective and given the reality that we do a form of automated election today, are you satisfied with how it’s done and the machines they’re doing it with? What other safeguards for the electronic vote can you recommend?

Here are before-and-after photos of the COMELEC 35.


COMELEC 35 in 1986

COMELEC 35 in 1986

COMELEC 35 Recent Photo

COMELEC 35 Recent Photo

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