Singson: PPCRV not capable of changing hash code

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — The Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) isn’t capable of altering the software that runs the server which churns out the partial, unofficial results of the May 9 elections, an officer of the citizen’s arm of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) said Thursday.

The statement was made by Ana de Villa Singson, operations head of the PPCRV command center, amid allegations that the vote count showing vice presidential candidate Rep. Leni Robredo leading Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. may have been manipulated through a computer command, or script, that was allegedly introduced to the server under PPCRV’s care.

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"Ang Comelec transparency server nandito sa PPCRV, kaya minsan natatawag na PPCRV server kahit hindi naman samin yun. Ang lahat ng datos at software ay nanggagaling sa Comelec at sa Smartmatic," Singson told CNN Philippines.

[Translation: The Comelec transparency server is here at the PPCRV, that’s why it’s called the PPCRV server even though it’s not ours. All the data and software come from the Comelec and Smartmatic (the automated election service provider).]

Singson explained that there are more than a dozen groups connected to two Comelec servers.

She said these are the Kapisanan ng mga Broadkaster ng PIlipinas (KBP), Liberal Party (LP), United Nationalist Alliance (UNA), Nationalist People's Coalition (NPC), PDP-Laban, CNN Philippines, GMA, ABS-CBN, TV 5, Rappler, Philippine Daily Inquirer, National Movement for Free Elections (NAMFREL), Star Global, and PPCRV.

The Marcos camp on Wednesday (May 11) called on Comelec to explain alleged irregularities in the unofficial vote count, particularly the supposed "new script" fed to the transparency server’s software.

"We received unsettling information that at past 7:30 p.m. on May 9, 2016, Election Day (May 9), a new script or computer command was introduced to the transparency server — the very same server from which the PPCRV obtains its data for the quick count," Marcos’ lawyer, Atty. Francesca Huang, said.

"This introduction of this new script is suspect because it was after this time that Sen. Marcos's lead from Rep. Robredo started to erode at a rather distinctive pattern," added Huang.

Singson on Thursday said that they have submitted to the Comelec an incident report about queries from NPC and UNA.

"Binigay na ho namin yan sa Comelec sa umagang ito at mas mabuti ho na sila na ang magbigay ng paliwang," Singson said.

[Translation: We submitted this to the Comelec this morning, so it would be better for them to explain this.]

Former Comelec Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal, said that the poll body needs to be transparent.

"The Comelec has to be transparent and explain things. What's the cause of it? Was there really a change in the script? If there's a change, what's the reason for it? At this point in time, it’s not only the credibility but the perception of credibility of the elections – specifically for that position (vice presidency) – has to be emphasized," Larrazabal said.

Comelec and Smartmatic need to disclose who authorized the altering of the script and why political parties were not informed of the alleged change in the hash code, he said.

A hash code is a unique alphanumeric series of symbols that's like the fingerprint of a piece of software.

Larrazabal said that he cannot think of any reason why it was necessary to change the hash code.

"Because that code, that software, was already certified. That's the final software that was tested for the elections. You cannot change it after you certify it as OK," Larrazabal said.