MANILA, Philippines - Fed up with criticisms and allegations - that the elections will fail, that it is ill-prepared for automation, and very recently, that it is part of a grand conspiracy behind massive election fraud - the Commission on Elections (Comelec) gave its critics a stern response: "Enough is enough."
"Are these the same people who said there will be failure of elections? Are these the same people who said PCOS [Precinct Count Optical Scan] machines wouldn't arrive? Are these the same people who said we couldn't print out the ballots?" Commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal told reporters on Thursday.
"Their statements have all been disproven yet they continue to peddle lies. You have to stop already."
Larrazabal, who chairs the Comelec's automation steering committee, was reacting to a call by the Center for People Empowerment in Governance (CenPEG) to form an independent body that will conduct another random manual audit, amid fresh allegations of wholesale cheating during the elections.
This week, a masked whistleblower named "Robin" revealed a massive electronic cheating operation, where "player" PCOS machines were used to transmit results ahead of the legitimate ones to rig the election tally.
Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said some groups are jumping into the bandwagon spurred by Robin's expose, which, he said, is "difficult to believe."
Although the Comelec has yet to read the full transcript of Robin's testimony, Jimenez pointed out a number of "internal inconsistencies" in his allegations, saying he lacks a comprehensive knowledge of the system to even sabotage it.
For one, Robin claimed that thousands of PCOS machines were used as "players." Jimenez said this is impossible because all 82,200 PCOS machines are accounted for, from those used in the precincts to the spare units. Smartmatic-TIM also has a National Support Center where the PCOS machines are tracked.
"Saan nanggaling ang thousands of PCOS na 'yon?" he said.
Purchasing PCOS machines is also no cheap feat, as a unit costs more than P60,000, according to Smartmatic-TIM.
No transmission blocked
Jimenez also said Robin's claim that the player PCOS machines prevent the entry of transmitted results from authentic machines is unlikely because the servers accept all transmitted data and do not block anything. He said it is the job of the system administrator to sift through all transmitted data and accept only the legitimate ones.
No inaccurate data was sent during transmission. But if it ever happened, Jimenez said the system administrator could easily spot the legitimate electronic returns by checking the digital signatures, among others.
"Without the digital signature …the PCOS will not be allowed to transmit," Jimenez said. Spoofing the digital signature would require thousands of security keys, he added.
For Jimenez, one of the most glaring, albeit seemingly trivial, proof of the whistleblower's lack of knowledge about the automated system is the way he spelled the counting machine's acronym. Jimenez said that in one of his interviews, Robin showed a diagram of the supposed cheating operation where he wrote "PICOS" machine.
"This is not something that you would expect from someone who claims to have an intimate knowledge of the system," he said.
For now, the Comelec refuses to speculate on who could be behind Robin's expose, but asked those with allegations to approach poll officials and show proof.
Larrazabal said anyone can file a petition or complaint, which the Comelec will discuss.
"The Comelec cannot suspect on who let 'koala boy' loose on the unsuspecting world," Jimenez said, referring to Robin's mask, which people say looks like a koala bear's face.
"Who is he revealing for? Why is he revealing now? Who stands to benefit from his revelations?" he added. "Then you draw your own conclusions."