Probe Comelec, Smartmatic, PPCRV for sabotage: coalition

Carolyn Bonquin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 18 2016 03:43 PM

Members of Mata sa Balota, an election transparency watchdog, take their oath as they file charges at the Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday. The group accused the Comelec, the PPCRV and vote counting machine supplier (VCM) Smartmatic of electoral sabotage in the May 9, 2016 elections.

MANILA - Two groups are asking the Ombudsman to investigate the Commission on Elections (Comelec), Smartmatic, and Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) for alleged electoral sabotage following the modification of the hash code in the poll body's transparency server.

Mata sa Balota, a coalition of several groups, on Wednesday filed an electoral sabotage complaint against Marlon Garcia, the IT personnel from Smartmatic, and Henrietta de Villa, president of the PPCRV, Smartmatic, and Comelec.

Garcia was the one who changed the hash code at the PPCRV headquarters at around 7:30 p.m. on May 9, election day.

Smartmatic and Comelec explained that the change in the transparency server was merely "cosmetic," allowing the program to recognize the "ñ" as a character instead of displaying it as a "?"

Mata sa Balota, however, was not convinced with the explanation.

Rodolfo Javellana said the Comelec had days before the polls to smooth out the system. Javellana added that it was suspicious for Smartmatic to commit an error with the letter ñ, noting that as a company from a Spanish-speaking country, ñ is already part of their language.

Fr. Robert Reyes, convenor of Mata sa Balota, said they no longer believe in the credibility of the election results after the server was tampered with.

Reyes said they consulted an IT expert who told them that there may be a bigger problem beyond a single letter.

They pointed out the possible conspiracy between the poll body and Smartmatic.

"The switching in the script could not have been made alone by the respondent Smartmatic IT personnel except for with the connivance of Comelec personnel...who was responsible for safe-keeping of the password (match code) which he provided to the former," the complaint read.

"Thereafter, there was noted and unexplained surge and corresponding decline in the vote counts for the vice-presidential candidates and senators."

Mata sa Balota wants to ban Smartmatic in the Philippines, and for the court to issue a hold departure order against Garcia.

READ: Comelec: Smartmatic may be penalized

Meanwhile, a group of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), wrote an open letter to Ombudsman Conchita Caprio Morales, also asking for an investigation on the modification of the hash code after the shift in the number of votes for the vice presidential race.

They questioned the sudden decline in the votes for Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and the increase in the number of votes for Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo.

Both groups are urging Comelec and Smartmatic to open audit the system.