Comelec preparing for village polls amid fresh allegations of voting system breach

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 07 2018 05:08 PM | Updated as of Mar 07 2018 06:21 PM

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MANILA - The Commission on Elections (Comelec) on Wednesday said it would continue preparations for the barangay and Sangguniang Kabataan elections in May despite fresh allegations that the electronic voting system was "compromised" in 2016.

In a press conference, Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez said the poll body would push through with printing 18 million ballots for the village elections toward the end of the month or before the Holy Week. 

This despite new allegations of fraud that Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III bared on Tuesday, saying the 2016 elections may have been compromised. 

He cited evidence from a "concerned and impeccably reliable" source who said that there was an early transmission of votes and foreign access to election servers used during the automated national polls. 

Several proposals are also pending at the House of Representatives seeking another postponement of the village polls. 

The Comelec has yet to see and verify the data Sotto presented during his privilege speech..

"There are at the very least 2 explanations na puwede. Puwede 'yung sinasabi nila na ini-imply na may dayaan, or puwede namang wala," Jimenez said.

"If something nefarious is indeed found, then the timeline (of the village elections) will be affected. If not, then we will be proceeding as it is now," he said.

"It is prudent to check those pictures first, check them against what is known, make sure they are accurate and find out what they truly represent," he added.

Jimenez said it was possible that the alleged anomalous transmission codes presented by Sotto were those that sent information from voting precincts to the Comelec's online transparency website.

"If you remember, we had an election results website. You could go to the website, check the results and data showing there was data from the precincts. That website was hosted abroad. What did that data do? Nothing. It only posted results on the web. It (data) is sent to the website and then it's a dead end," Jimenez said.

He said the poll body has already reached out to Sotto's office to cooperate with a possible investigation into the alleged election anomaly.

"Kahit kami, we want to get to the bottom of this. What was this data that was shown to him and why was it interpreted in this manner?," Jimenez said.

"We have to be even more careful, but being more careful doesn't mean that we have to stop dead in our tracks," he added.

Systems provider Smartmatic "will have to explain if there was truly a miss there," Jimenez said.

The Comelec spokesperson also downplayed concerns that some senators garnered "zero votes" due to the alleged anomaly.

"Mayroong zero votes everywhere. I think every candidate had a zero vote experience," Jimenez said.