Candidates with the letter ñ: Why Smartmatic changed script


MANILA - It all started when someone from the media noticed something wrong with how the names of two electoral candidates were being displayed by the Comelec server.

Commission on Elections Chairman Andres Bautista on Friday said the "cosmetic change" in the computer script of the Comelec transparency server was done after an IT staff of a media outlet noticed something wrong with how the names of Roy Señeres and Getulio Napeñas Jr were being displayed.

"Wala namang malisya, simple lang naman po. Napansin po ng isang taga-media, nung tinitignan niya yung pangalan ng mga kandidato, pag ang iyong pangalan ay may 'ñ', ang lumalabas ay 'question mark.' For example, Señeres. [It came out] Se?eres. Yun pong Napeñas. Meron pong ganung senatorial candidate. Nape?as," he told radio DZMM.

Bautista said the IT staff, identified as Robert Locke, asked a member of the Comelec IT if the "?" was supposed to stand for "ñ." The Comelec IT then informed technology provider Smartmatic, which implemented the change.

The Comelec chairman said the tweak, which happened at around 7 p.m. on election day, did not change the poll numbers.

"It was the call of Smartmatic," he said, adding that some members of the media were informed about the change when it was made.

The camp of Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has called into question the results of the vice-presidential race, which showed him trailing Liberal Party bet Leni Robredo by some 200,000 votes.

A member of the Marcos camp said Robredo only overtook him in the race after the script change was introduced into the server.

Bautista, however, denied allegations of poll rigging, saying that surveys had already shown that the vice-presidential race would be closely fought. He earlier said the rise in Robredo's votes happened due to slower transmission of votes.

The Comelec is set to conduct special elections in several areas nationwide on May 14.

RADIO DZMM, May 13, 2016