Senate to present witness in alleged 2016 election fraud

Ron Gagalac, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 13 2018 05:37 PM

MANILA - The Senate witness on alleged electoral fraud in the 2016 elections will be revealed to the public in an upcoming hearing, the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee on the Automated Election System (JCOC-AES) said Thursday.

“In [the] next hearing we will produce witness of the Senate,” said Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III, JCOC-AES co-chair. 

The date of the hearing has yet to be set. 

In a public hearing Thursday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III questioned the Commission on Elections (Comelec) about the existence of an alleged “cue server,” where election results were supposedly stored before transmission to the poll body, fearing that results might have been tampered with.

The Comelec denied that there was such a “cue server” but explained that since 97,000 vote counting machines were transmitting simultaneously, a slight delay was inevitable.

“Out of 97,000 transmissions, magkakaroon talaga ng traffic 'yan. What is important here, kahit medyo na-traffic, importante 'yung pumasok... Let us say sa isang sasakyan na may tatlong sakay, 'yung lumabas tatlo pa rin sakay, tumagal lang,” Comelec Commissioner Marlon Casquejo said.

(Out of 97,000 transmissions, there will really be traffic there. What is important here, even if there is traffic, the important thing is that it was sent... Let us say one vehicle has three passengers, in the end it still had three passengers, they were just delayed.)

But Sotto strongly believes interventions were possibly made, citing the testimony of his witness from AES contractor Smartmatic who will be presented at the next hearing. 

“Kaya hindi puwede sabihin na suspetsa ng iba. Taga-loob nagsabi sa'kin... magpi-privilege speech ba ako kung hindi ako sigurado?” he said.

(That's why it cannot be said that this is just suspicion. An insider said it... Will I give a privilege speech if I wasn't sure?)

The committee is also looking into the allegations of lawyer Glen Chong of Tanggulang Demokrasya that overall results of the 2016 elections between the transparency and central servers, which both received results from polling precincts, had a discrepancy of at least 240,000 votes.

“Source of these votes should only be one, the VCMs (vote counting machines). Kulang ang sa kanila ng 241,712 votes,” Chong said.

He also alleged that at least 32 precincts in Bicol transmitted results at 5 p.m. on election day but that the transparency server received them only around 7:30 p.m., a difference of 2 and a half hours in transmission.

“Bakit na-receive pa rin? Kasi may cue server. Sino sinungaling sa'min (Why were the results still received? Because there's a cue server. Now who between us is lying)?” Chong said.

Comelec Executive Director Jose Tolentino Jr. said they will look into Chong’s allegations but maintained that there was no change in the overall election results.

“May pagbabago ba sa election returns at COCs (certificates of canvass)? Wala naman po (Were there changes in election returns and COCs? None),” Tolentino said.

As an additional measure against any form of fraud, the Comelec will also conduct a source code review on the transmission of votes. 

“We have required [an] international certification entity to also look at [the] source code of transmission system,” Tolentino said.