Commission on Elections (Comelec) Chairman Andres Bautista could be impeached over “undervotes” and for disallowing a system audit of its transparency and central servers, according to an information technology (IT) expert.
An undervote occurs when the number of choices selected by a voter in an election contest is less than the maximum number allowed for that contest.
It also occurs when no vote is cast for a single-choice contest.[
For instance, a voter who is permitted to cast one vote for a presidential candidate and does not select a candidate has undervoted.
The IT expert and lawyer Glenn Chong, a former congressman of Biliran province, on Friday said Bautista could not just set aside the three million undervotes in the vice presidential race since they represent about 8.53 percent of the total number of voters.
"It [ignoring the undervotes]is simply obstruction of justice, a betrayal of public trust, which is an impeachable offense,” Chong told a news conference where another witness, Baser Utto, the defeated vice mayoral candidate of Datu Saudi Ampatuan in Maguindanao claimed pre-shaded ballots were fed to Vote Counting Machines (VCMs) in his town.
The Comelec is one of the few constitutional and independent bodies whose chairman and commissioners could only be removed through impeachment.
Chong said the source of official and unofficial tallies are the transparency and central servers, which once audited will reveal if the change of hash code in the evening of the May 9 elections, or a few hours after the closing of the polls, had triggered the questionable and mysterious decrease of vice presidential candidate Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos’ almost 1 million lead over closest rival Camarines Sur Rep. and administration bet Leni Robredo.
Chong, vice chairman and spokesman for the Reform Philippines Coalition (RPC), an election watchdog, said he has received a video showing how a former election officer was selling the Automated Election System (AES) that would guarantee, for example, the mayoral post for a politician in the Visayas.
“I have heard of the system being sold for P12 million for one candidate to as high as P200 million depending on the number of candidates programmed to win but this is the first time I have received a concrete evidence of how it was peddled to candidates,” he added, without naming names.
Chong said he will reveal the identities of members of the syndicate selling the AES before a Senate hearing.
Showing a screen grab of the video, the RPC spokesman claimed that the election officer offered to make the candidate win by giving him the database of voters in his area.
The candidate will then choose the voters who will be retained in the database and the edited database will be given back to the election officer.
The election officer will then replace the discarded voters with other names complete with biometrics and those names will be used in the elections.
“Of course the candidate will just retain the names of his supporters in the database and discard those from the other party. That is the reason why many were disenfranchised with names missing or transferred on Election Day,” Chong said.
The technology in the particularly video, according to Chong, was sold for P12 million.
He refused to show the video, saying he will show it to a legislative panel, particularly the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee in the Senate headed by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel 3rd.
“I will show this whole video in the JCOC [h[hearing] that everything will be public and official and the witness [w[will be]ry willing to testify,” Chong said.
He bared that the same technology had also been sold to a party in a province in Luzon for P200 million as it involved the whole provincial slate. “I already predicted way back as three months ago that a whole provincial slate from the governor down will win and the rival party will get nothing because I know for a fact that they talked to the same people on the AES. I am right because they whole ticket eventually won and the other party was wiped out so don’t tell me I’m a fortune-teller. I know because they had this same system.”
He disclosed that he is also receiving many feelers from witnesses of election fraud and he is the process of evaluating each and everyone of them and the evidence they have.
Chong disputed lawyer Romulo Macalintal downplaying the millions of undervotes in the vice presidential race.
Macalintal is in the Robredo camp.
Chong said international election expert and election book author Douglas Jones, a professor at the University of Iowa, said undervotes should not exceed 1 percent of the total votes cast.
He added that according to Jones, if the number of undervotes reaches 5 percent, it is suspicious and if it reaches 10 percent, it is highly suspicious.
Chong said that given the very suspicious high number of undervotes together with the injection of the “cosmetic” script change made by technology provider Smartmatic in the transparency server at the height of the transmission on May 9 coinciding with the sudden downward spiral of Marcos’ numbers and the refusal of the Comelec to conduct a systems audit at this point, it is safe to say, the IT lawyer added, that indeed the May elections were not credible.
Smartmatic should explain
Meanwhile, George Garcia, a lawyer for Marcos, said Smartmatic owes the public an explanation over discrepancies found in the electronically-transmitted Certificates of Canvass (COC) in several provinces.
Garcia pointed out, for example, that in the provinces of Nueva Ecija and Ilocos Sur, the provincial Canvassing and Consolidation System (CCS) transmitted the COC when there was incomplete transmission of results in the municipal level.
“How can the provincial CCS transmit [t[the COC] the Comelec when the program says it should be 100 percent transmission of all municipalities in that province?” he said.
Garcia cited that in the case of the two provinces the respective Provincial Boards of Canvassers (PBOC) were unaware that the municipal transmissions were incomplete until the Comelec en banc ordered them to recheck and recompute the results.
They later found out that the election results in one municipality were not included in the first provincial COC transmitted to the Comelec.
“How can this happen when Smartmatic assured us that their machines are accurate and reliable?” Garcia said.
“It’s their [S[Smartmatic]bligation to the Filipino people. They were the ones who supplied to us the machines, they were the ones who supplied to us the system, they were the ones who assured that it will be 99.9996 percent accurate, then an explanation is a must,” he added.
Garcia said unless clarified and addressed properly, such issue would likely raise questions over the results of the elections.
“What if there was double transmission or no transmission at all yet the results reflect there was one?” he added.
Because of the discrepancies and the unusually high percentage of undervotes uncovered during the official canvass for the position of President and Vice President, Garcia said, losing candidates in other positions are probably now rechecking the results in their own area to find out what really happened.
The public, according to him, also has the right to know why there was such a high number of undervotes for the position of Vice President, which totaled about 3.2 million for the first two days of the official canvass.
He explained that they arrived at the figure by deducting the total number of votes for the position of Vice President from the total number of votes cast.
“It’s true that some voters opted not to vote for a certain position and that’s normal. But take note of the percentage, that’s 3.2 million voters who did not vote for Vice President,” Garcia noted.
With such hotly-contested elections and the high voter turnout of over 80 percent, he said the high number of undervotes should be explained.
Garcia added that areas where large number of undervotes occurred were in the Visayas and Mindanao.
Earlier, the Marcos camp sought a systems audit of the central and transparency servers of the Comelec over the introduction of a new script by a Smartmatic official–Marlon Garcia–without proper authorization from the Comelec en banc.
It was shortly after Garcia’s move, according to Marcos, that he began to lose his lead over his closest rival and eventually was overtaken in the unofficial partial results of the elections posted by a poll watchdog.
The senator insisted only such an audit would clear doubts on the results of the elections.
The Comelec, however, turned down such request.