Sotto alleges 2016 election irregularity

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 6) — Senate Majority leader Tito Sotto in Tuesday's plenary session presented documents on alleged irregularities in the 2016 general elections.

Two points were raised - early transmission of votes and a foreign entry into the election system.

Sotto said he got the documents from a concerned, reliable source.

One document shows a transmission activity as early as May 8, a day before the May 9 election day. As per en banc resolution the Board of Canvassers shall only convene starting at 3 in the afternoon of May 9, 2016.

Another document showed the transmission came from an IP (internet protocol) address of a clustered Vote Counting Machine or Precinct Count Optical Scan to the canvassing system in the municipality of Libon, Albay province.

Sotto presented another document showing the transmission activity continued until the morning of May 9 in the canvassing system in the municipality of Angono, Rizal province. This was before the official conduct of election.

Sotto said there is no way Smartmatic can justify these as 'testing transmissions' because "as far as I can remember the last official testing was made on April 23, 2016."

On the foreign intrusion into the election system, Sotto presented documents showing a username in the system that was later on identified as a server in Sotto said this is a cloud computing service in the United States.

Although Sotto did not name names as to who benefited and who were affected among candidates, his informant would say he has colleagues in the Senate who had zero votes in hundreds of precincts in some areas.

In his privilege speech, Sotto said, "These issues cannot be ignored as it weakens the propriety of our automated election system. We must ascertain the accuracy of these allegations as to either make the responsible officials accountable or finally put to rest questions clouding the results of the 2016 election. In any case, I believe that the outcome of any investigation on this matter will surely lead to a more accurate and transparent system and results for the coming 219 elections."

Senator Ping Lacson was first to interpellate. He asked Sotto, "Nagtatanong kami ng aking seatmate (Sen. Grace Poe) sino po ba ang nawalan at sino ang nakinabang, ilang prisinto po ba?"

Lacson asked further in a jokingly manner, "kanino po ba napunta ang aming boto, kay Joel Villanueva po ba?" Villanueva ended at the top 2 post during the last senatorial elections. Senator Frank Drilon led the race.

Senator Joel Villanueva asked for clarification. He said, "I just want to put on record what Senator Lacson would joke around during the campaign that he will make a 'pasa vote' to me.  I'd like to know if that indeed happened?"

Sotto responded, "If we subpoena COMELEC (Commission on Elections) and (technology provider) Smartmatic malalaman natin kung sino ang nakinabang."

Senator Grace Poe was next to interpellate. Recognizing that "she definitely lost in the election," she would rather that the results on other positions should also be looked into.  Poe ranked third in the last presidential elections. 

Senator Migs Zubiri urged the COMELEC to suspend Smartmatic and call for a review of documents that were provided by Sotto.

Just recently, COMELEC commissioners unanimously voted to exercise their option to purchase Smartmatic's voting counting machines for the 2019 midterm elections.

Sotto said if such allegations were true then we risk the accuracy of next year's election.