Comelec clears Smartmatic in script alteration controversy

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 12 2016 04:56 PM

MANILA - A fact-finding team of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) has cleared Smartmatic of liability in the controversial alteration of the script of the Transparency Server of the Automated Election System during the 2016 polls.

The fact-finding team recommended that the payment of the poll body's "contractual obligations and retention fees with Smartmatic as provided in the AES contracts should proceed."

This, after the investigating team found no violations were committed after Smartmatic Project Manager Marlon Garcia introduced changes to the Transparency Server.

"Verily, with the above findings, the May 9 to 10 or any untoward incident could not have evoked a reaction or action other than that presented by Mr. Peñalba," the report read.

The controversial incident happened inside the Pope Pius Center on May 9, 2016 elections, just as initial poll results were coming in.

Smartmatic’s Garcia explained that the changes he introduced in the Transparency Server were 'cosmetic' in nature, to correct the appearance of the character "?" in place of the character "ñ" in the names of the poll candidates. He insisted that the change did not affect the result of the elections.

Then vice-presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. alleged that his lead over Liberal Party’s Leni Robredo was cut when the change was made.

READ: Marcos camp boosts fraud accusations with new claims

Marcos, the only son and namesake of the late dictator, has since filed an election protest against Robredo before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

He also filed criminal charges against Smartmatic and Comelec officials.