The Philippine Star

Comelec asked: Keep hands off hash code alteration probe


Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr., called on the poll body to keep its hands off the probe on the alteration of the hash code of its transparen­cy server on the night of election day.

In his Twitter account, Brillantes said the Comelec should let the Joint Congressio­nal Committee on automated election do the investigat­ion.

“Considerin­g that Comelec itself appears to be involved in the matter of protocol violation and to insure impartiali­ty in the investigat­ion, the better move would be for Comelec itself to dispense with its own investigat­ion,” he explained.

On election day last May 9, the hash code of the transparen­cy server being used by the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsibl­e Voting (PPCRV) in its quick count was altered by Smartmatic Philippine­s project director Marlon Garcia without authorizat­ion from the Comelec.

The correction was made after an observer noticed the presence of question marks in some candidates’ names where the letter ñ should have appeared.

The camp of vice presidenti­al candidate Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. claimed that the change caused his rival, Liberal Party bet Leni Robredo, to overtake him in the quick count of the PPCRV.

Garcia explained that a Comelec personnel authorized the change. The Comelec personnel even keyed in the poll body’s password into the system.

Marcos formally asked the Comelec to allow his own IT experts, with the supervisio­n of the poll body, to conduct a system audit to determine what transpired after Garcia changed the script of the transparen­cy server.

Marcos’ camp also filed another letter asking Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista to provide additional informatio­n concerning other components of the Automated Election System like the transmissi­on logs, vote counting machines (VCM), USB devices, BGAN or Broadband Global Area Network, digitally signed election returns (ERs) and the public and decryption keys to open the transmitte­d files.

Marcos also wants to know the number of Consolidat­ion and Canvassing System laptops/servers that were reported to contain rogue votes coming from the pre-election logical accuracy test and mock elections on election day; the municipali­ties, cities and provinces affected; and the measures the poll body took to rectify the supposed error.

Comelec Commission­er Rowena Guanzon sought an investigat­ion and imposition of a travel restrictio­n against Smartmatic officials and employees.

Brilliante­s said “it would be most unfair to the Comelec employees/personnel involved and to the Comelec contracted provider for the Comelec en banc to continue with its investigat­ion where one of its members appears to have prejudged the matter and has shown bias and partiality against Smartmatic in unending public statements.”

Brillantes was apparently referring to Guanzon.

While Brillantes is the legal consultant of Marcos, Brillantes seems not to share Marcos’ belief that he was cheated based on his showing in the quick count of the PPCRV.

Brillantes noted that the quick count is not the official count so cheating could not happen there.

“Let me end by saying that I find it weird that a claim of irregulari­ties in the unofficial results can generate so much fuss,” he added.

Abakada Rep. Jonathan dela Cruz, campaign adviser of Marcos, yesterday said that should the Comelec allow an audit of the central and transparen­cy servers, all IT experts are welcome to take part as well as those coming from winning candidates.

“We would like to urge all IT experts to go there to have themselves accredited and take a look and see for themselves what happened. We are requesting all groups, including losing candidates, to join us because the credibilit­y of elections is at stake here. What we are searching for is the truth,” Dela Cruz said in a statement.

Dela Cruz said the system audit that they are pushing for is not directed at a particular candidate but at the integrity of the elections.

“We have to have a system audit. We have to see the transmissi­on logs because that is the only way we can see what really happened. This has nothing to do with the results. This has everything to do with the integrity of our elections and the violations committed of our election laws,” he added.

He also said that people should not just accept Smartmatic’s excuse that the change was merely innocuous because in computer technology, everything can change with just one push of a button or a single letter or icon.

He further stated that they also found out that all VCMs did not transmit a single election result at around 10 p.m. of May 9.

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