Comelec, PPCRV, Smartmatic, face electoral sabotage charges

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Rodolfo Javellana tells media, the sudden introduction of the script, or computer command in the Comelec transparency server is a clear violation of elections laws.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — An election watchdog on Wednesday  (May 18) charged the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the automated elections service provider and Comelec’s citizen’s arm with electoral sabotage for allowing the insertion of a computer command into a server that receives and churns out results.

The Mata sa Balota filed criminal complaints against Comelec, Smartmatic project head Marlon Garcia, Smartmatic and Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) chairperson Henrietta de Villa with the Ombudsman.

Rodolfo Javellana, one of the complainants, said the sudden introduction of the script, or computer command, which resulted in the change of the hash code, is a clear violation of elections laws.

A hash code, which looks like a random series of numbers and letters, is like the fingerprint of a computer software. Any change in the software will result in a change in the hash code, which is an indication that an alteration has been made in the original software.

"Ang mga nagcocover-up ay sila sila din. Sino ba ang nakaka-alam ng password, di ba ang COMELEC, Smartmatic? So kanino ba nagsisimula ang konotasyon ng dayaan?” Javellana said. “Sila lang ang may control nyan, kaya ang usapin ng dayaan lalong umiinit dahil sa kanilang aksyon."

[Translation: They are the ones behind the cover-up. Who knew the password, weren’t they the Comelec, Smartmatic? Where does the connotation of cheating came from? They are the only ones in control; the issue of cheating is heating up because of their actions.]

case vs comelec, smartmatic, ppcrv.jpg  

The Comelec officials have admitted Garcia inserted the script into the transparency server at the Pope Pius XII where the PPCRV is conducting its unofficial count without permission from the en banc. They said, however, that the alteration was purely “cosmetic”  – substituting the letter "ñ" for the “?” character in some candidates’ names.

Garcia made the alteration around 7:30 pm on May 9, hours after the polls closed, at about the time when the difference of the votes between Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and administration bet Leni Robredo began to narrow down, according to the senator’s camp.

“Ang hash code ay salamin ng source code. Ang source code ang utak, ang nagbibigay ng command, nagsasabi ng resulta. Kapag nagalaw ang hash code, malinaw na ang integridad ng halalan na ito ay maki-kwestyon," said Javellana.

[Translation: The hash code mirrors the source code. The source code is the brain that gives the commands, gives the results. If the hash code is altered, it’s clear that the integrity of the elections will be questioned.]

Mata sa Balota questioned the timing of the edit and why it was not done prior to election day. The group also held PPCRV accountable for allowing the change.

“Ito ay tungkol sa isang democratic exercise na dapat hindi nacocompromise, at hindi nagiging parang experimento ng isang kumpanyang dayuhan. Hindi na experimento ito. Meron silang pattern for the last six years eh," Javellana added.

[Translation: This is about a democratic exercise that should not be compromised. It’s not a foreign company’s experiment. This is no longer an experiment. They have been showing a pattern for the last six years.]

Mata sa Balota also compared the incident to "Hello Garci" scandal, when former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo called former Comelec Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano to allegedly manipulate the 2004 presidential election results. Arroyo won against veteran actor Fernando Poe Jr.

The complainants also want the Office of the Ombudsman to suspend the proclamation of winning candidates, but they are unsure if the anti-graft office has the authority to do so.

Former Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes, who is a legal consultant of Marcos, meanwhile, questioned the filing of electoral sabotage charges in connection with an unofficial count.

"Dadayain ba ng tao yan -- unofficial ang bilangan? Saan ka naman nakakita ng nandadaya ng unofficial canvass? Hindi ka naman mananalo sa unofficial canvass. [Will people cheat there -- the unofficial count? Where can you find cheating in the unofficial canvass? No one wins in an unofficial canvass.]," he told reporters. "For an electoral sabotage to occur, you have to cheat in the official count."

Alleged irregularities

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

Also read: Marcos camp: New programming script introduced into Comelec’s transparency server

Atty. Francesca Huang, a lawyer for Marcos, said the execution of the computer command was able to alter the hash codes of the packet data.

"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," said Huang.

A day after Marcos’ camp made their claims, the Comelec and Smartmatic confirmed that a piece of software in a component of the transparency server at the PPCRV command center was altered.

Also read: Robredo welcomes system audit proposed by Marcos

Vice presidential race frontrunner and administration bet Leni Robredo welcomed the move by Marcos to ask for a system audit of the automated election system, saying this will prove there was no cheating.

Also watch: Race to the finish line