Comelec to probe alleged 'rigging' of counting servers

ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) will investigate the claim of some information technology experts that at least 30 consolidated counting servers were modified to rig the results of the May 9 elections.

In a report by The Standard on Sunday, the computer experts calling themselves "MM" explained that consolidated counting servers tabulate results to generate the official Certificates of Canvass.

The MM said 30 counting servers machines generated some 2.65 million of "rigged" votes for four contested provinces, which could make or break the vice-presidential race.

The group added that these servers were shipped to the Comelec National Technical Support Center in Sta. Rosa, Laguna shortly after the elections closed at 5 p.m.

The IT experts, however, refused to say who benefited from the alleged electoral fraud, but they said presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte was "safe" because of his unassailable lead.

Speaking to radio dzMM, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista said he has yet to read the report, but promised that the poll body will look into the allegation.

However, he noted that contrary to the MM's claim, the Comelec technical support group is based in Quezon City while the warehouse for vote counting machines (VCM) is the one located in Laguna.

Bautista also pointed out that several groups have made accusations of poll cheating, but none so far was able to present any evidence.

"Bukas kami parati kung mayroong mga ebidensya at pruweba na nagpapakita na nagkaroon ng dayaan o pagkukulang ang ating mga makina," he said.

"Pero konteksto lang, mula 2010 hanggang ngayon, wala pa pong kasong nananalo sa kahit anong korte na nagsasabing iyung makina ay pwede mong dayain."

"Madaling magsabi na nagkakaroon ng dayaan pero kapag humihingi na po kami ng ebidensya, diyan naman po nagkakaroon ng pagkukulang."

Bautista also urged the public to be discerning against media outlets that release unverified claims of election cheating. "Itong mga diyaryong ito, tingnan din po natin kung sino ang may-ari. Kasi kung minsan, medyo slanted ang mga balitang lumalabas sa kanila."

SCRIPT CHANGE

Bautista said Comelec has formed an investigating committee to probe the alteration of a computer script in the transparency server, which released the unofficial count of votes.

He said the Comelec en banc on Tuesday may ask for the preliminary findings of the committee headed by the poll body's Law and Personnel departments.

The Comelec chief added that the committee will particularly look into the possible administrative liability of Marlon Garcia, an officer of elections service provider Smartmatic, who altered a transparency server script to correct a character in the name of candidates.

Bautista earlier said Garcia had to change the character "?" to an "ñ" to correct entry of name of one candidate. The poll chief said while the change in the script will not affect the results in the transparency server, the Smartmatic official lacked proper authorization from the Comelec to implement the change/

Candidates with the letter ñ: Why Smartmatic changed script

The camp of Senator Ferdinand ''Bongbong'' Marcos Jr. earlier cast doubt on the credibility of the unofficial count after dropping to second place in the vice-presidential race, behind administration candidate Leni Robredo.

A Marcos aide earlier said the senator's lead over Robredo on the first day of counting began to go down and was completely eroded after a script was "introduced" to the transparency server.

READ: Marcos camp alleges new 'script' in transparency server

Marcos has written the Comelec, asking for a full audit of the AES. Bautista said the Comelec en banc will tackle the lawmaker's request on Tuesday.

The Comelec en banc is also set to discuss amendments needed in the "outdated" Omnibus Election Code.

"Manual pa rin po ang orientation ng ating Omnibus Election Code, kailangan na talagang amyendahan, pag-isipan kung paano nakaapekto ang teknolohiya sa ating batas," Bautista said.

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