Comelec defers action on Marcos audit request

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THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has decided not to take action or “defer” the request of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. for a systems audit of the transparency and central servers that it used in the just concluded polls.

“The Comelec en banc deliberated on the letter of Senator Marcos about his request to audit our servers. In our opinion, at this point, we need to defer our ruling on his request,” Chairman Juan Andres Bautista on Wednesday said.

According to Bautista, the decision was unanimously arrived at by the seven-man commission en banc during its regular en banc session on Tuesday after lengthy deliberations on three important aspects.

The commission, he explained, maintained that all election stakeholders–candidates, political parties and clean election watchdogs, among others– were already given enough time or seven months to “audit, scrutinize and study” the systems used in the May 9 elections, referring to the “source code review” conducted at the De la Salle University .


The source code is basically an independent auditor to ensure that the automated election system is running free from possible malicious lines.

According to Bautista, it was also pointed out during the en banc’s deliberation that Congress has already convened as the National Board of Canvassers for President and Vice President, and “in deference, out of respect [to Congress], it might affect the work of Congress.”

Furthermore, he said, the commission has also noted that criminal charges have already been formally filed against Smartmatic and Comelec IT personnel.

“Pag nag-audit ano mangyayari? Pag may nahanap, gagamitin bang ebidensiya sa kasong isinampa [What will happen if there is an audit? If there are findings, will they be used as evidence on the complaint filed]?” the poll chief said.

“We unanimously voted that it would be better to defer our decision on his [Marcos] request until after the canvass and the criminal proceedings,” Bautista added.

But for the sake of transparency, he said, the Comelec is open to a non-partisan disinterested group of qualified IT professionals, such as the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Comelec Advisory Council (CAC), to conduct an independent audit.

The CAC is made up of nine members from the academe, non-government electoral reform organizations, ICT professional organizations and select government agencies.

In his letter, Marcos asked the Comelec that his team of “IT experts and programmers” be allowed to conduct an audit of the transparency and central servers under the supervision of the commission and its technical personnel.

Bautista pointed out though that the scope and methodology of the audit as requested by Marcos were vague.

“That is why we are coordinating with DOST and the Comelec Advisory Council how the audit should be conducted. If it is the whole system, it might take several months to complete,” he said. “On our part, we will be meeting with our counterparts in the DOST to ask for their opinion about the matter.”

Marcos’ call for a systems audit was spurred by the “unauthorized” tweak by Smarmatic project manager Marlon Garcia on the script or hash code of the Comelec’s transparency server on the night of Election Day, May 9.

Garcia explained though that it was a ”cosmetic” change and did not affect the election results of the tightly contested vice presidential race between Marcos and Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo.

But the Marcos camp was not buying Garcia’s explanation, saying only a systems audit can clear things up.

It claimed that by changing the script, Smartmatic effectively removed the only security feature of the data by causing the hash code to change.

Marcos has also filed an election offense case against Smartmatic before the Comelec and a criminal case against Garcia, Smartmatic general manager Elie Moreno and Comelec official Neli Banigued and Rouie Peñalba in the proper court.

The Robredo camp welcomed the audit of poll servers sought by Marcos but said that it should be done after the proclamation of the winning vice-presidential candidate.

Congress, sitting as the National Board of Canvasseers (NBOC) for presidential and vice-presidential votes, will start its canvassing on Wednesday.

Robredo’s camp has already claimed victory, saying that based on official results culled from Certificates of Canvass (COC) in the provincial and municipal/city levels, Robredo is ahead of Marcos and there is no way the latter could overcome the former’s more than 200,000 vote lead.

But the Marcos camp also claimed that based on its exit polls, the senator won the just concluded polls for Vice President.

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11 Comments

  1. Filipino mentality?? Hahaha. BOBONG Marcos is a son of the great family cheaters and losers. Cayetano and escudero conceded already but Marcos and her auntie or maybe godmother are giving in. These losers die many times but the winner die once….

  2. Juan T. Delacruz on

    The transparency server receives votes that were transmitted from the VCMs or polling places all over the country and I will slow down the process for everybody that cannot grasp how a computer operates.

    When the transparency server receives a transmitted vote from certain VCM, that vote will be credited to that particular candidate, saved in the mailbox for that particular candidate, somewhere in the hard drive of the server. In this particular situation, the n(enye) was not defined, and when the server receives a vote for a candidate that have n(enye) in his/her name, it gives a question mark because it cannot find the mailbox for this particular candidate. To correct the confused computer, n (enye) munt be defined and be given a value so that computer will recognize next time it appears again, then the vote will be credited to the rightful owner.

    This script programming does not do anything to the data stored in the transparency server, plain and simple. Any IT expert should be able to relate to this analogy. coming from a non-IT expert.

  3. Juan T. Delacruz on

    What Random Manual Audit these people are talking about? Is this the practice in the U.S. during presidential elections? What kind of audit did Senator Marcos requested? When someone do the Manual Random Audit, What are they looking for?

    Senator Marcos camp requested an audit, specifically, the transparency server that received transmitted votes sent from VCM from all over the country. He wanted his experts to determine whether the “script program” added to the transparency server shaved the votes supposedly going to Marcos, and ended up as Robredo’s vote. This is the purpose of his request, and I think it is simple enough to understand.

    COMELEC Chairman Bautista rejected his request because Marcos cannot prove that the script added affected his vote counts. Bautista already said publicly several times that the added script was a minor cosmetic that only changed the ? (question mark) into n (enye), an he is absolutely correct. However, illiterate people, such as lawyers, IT experts kunu, do not have knowledge how a computer execute the program and what type of program was being executed.

    Chairman Bautista already know that the added “script program” does NOT affect the votes being counted by the server because–“script programs” are executed by the existing program and it does not go to the compiler, to be compiled and executed”.

    To all the lawyers, IT experts kunu, and to my distant cousin Atty. Jonathan de la Cruz, the only way you can change the output of the transparency server is to load another program to the server, and make sure the program you are loading into the server is compatible with the existing program that it already in the server. This program you just loaded will go to the compiler, get compiled and then executed.
    Compiler is like a translator, that translate 1 (ones) and 0 (zeros) only language computers can understand.

    The AES Machines and Programs used in Philippine Election are “PROPRIETARY” products owned and registered under SMARTMATIC Corporation. The user agreement was signed by the representatives of both the company and the government and the designated custodian is the COMELEC. Therefore, Smartmatic cannot allow and will not allow any asshole(s) going through their programs because of the “TRADE SECRET” act . Therefore, SMATMATIC is protected by International Law, COPYRIGHT law and TRADE SECRET Act.

    Presidential election in the U.S. is ELECTORAL COLLEGE, and they do not count individual votes. Can anybody imagine how long it takes to count 65 million individual votes? Electoral college is the institution that elects the president and the Vice president of the U.S. every four years and the citizens Do Not directly elect the president and vice president; instead, the voters directly elect designated intermediaries called “ELECTORS”.

  4. The system audit should be done now before the NBOC finishes the count to make sure the COCs were not tampered with!

  5. ernie del rosario on

    But in fairness, the trend in the conduct of the 3 automated elections at least seems consistently linearly ascending naman. 2010 = bad, 2013 = worse, 2016 = a total disaster! How about 2019 ? This trend calls for a radical revamping action muna! The TRUE criteria are primarily CORRECT, FAIR and PRIVATE elections. Not high percentage ERs transmitted, not low percentage defective VCMs, not “complete” unofficial quick count in a few hours, and similar inconsequential or trivial statistics.

  6. ernie del rosario on

    Some might say:”but there is a Random Manual Audit (RMA) ? Meron nga pero is it correctly (statiscally, mathematically, procedurally) being conducted and is it transparent and the results published within a reasonable time after the election ? NO x 4 ! Firstly, the technical basis for sample sizing and random samples selection are defective. Question: at what confidence level are the present and the 2010’s and 2013’s) RMA results based ? Nothing ! The RMAT even do not know if the samples are even enough to establish at an X (90% ? 95% ?, 99% ?) confidence level the results of the audit – basta 715 ang 2016 RMA samples and this is based solely on the “seat of the pants” method – easy and comfortable maybe but sorely unscientific. It is now 17 days since eday. Where are the RMA results ? Ayon the results are still being reflected upon (with the auditors posed a la Rodin’s “The Thinker” sculpture) somewhere the public do not know. Where is transparency here ? Why is it taking too long ? Was the RMA process itself conducted according to established election auditing procedures such as NOT behind closed doors and publicly observable ? And so on and so forth ! Hay naku !

  7. ernie del rosario on

    In the U.S. and elsewhere there is a post-election period of election results CERTIFICATION before any elected winner is proclaimed. It is in this certification period where manual audits are conducted.

    In some states, manual audits are automatically prescribed by law at set percentage margins (1%, 2%, 3%…) between the just winning and just losing candidates using correct statistical and mathematical audit methods and maybe even automated recount tools. With these, the time period needed using correctly sized recount samples and sampling methods is not really long – a few days or a couple of weeks. Comelec top honchos should study election science and technology naman para enlightened naman ang patakbo nila ng napaka importanteng Commission ng bansa. Oo nga consttituional body sila pero kung the ones running are technically clueless in a technically complex automated system what can we expect except a litany of boo boos as happened over the past 3 national elections.

  8. ernie del rosario on

    Bautista is goading the sovereign people into taking matters into their hands to resolve this terrible string of electoral travesties since 2010 with finality via an extra-constitutional manner. His three basis for the deferment are terribly wrong and flimsy! 1) There was no real source code audit of the software version that was eventually used on election day was changed a few weeks before May 9 leaving no time for a another review to be conducted. 2) The cases lodged in the courts are different from that being requested by the Marcos camp and therefore should not bar the conduct of the audit. 3) The third and most disagreeable reason is that the NBOC will take care of resolving the matter. But what could possibly be being fed into the NBO might be fruits of massive fraud that is why this must be resolved with dispatch NOW with an audit. Bautista is using the seemingly irresolvable chicken and egg conundrum which in fact is really solvable – God did not create chicken eggs. An audit at the right time (read: NOW!) will resolve the impasse amidst a national mess that can lead us to instability.

  9. Sayang ang talino mo, Chairman Bautista, gamitin mo yan sa tama..gawin mo ang dapat at moral.. Para sa bayan..

  10. The reason by Comelec that the source code was scrutinized prior to election is a deception. Precisely, the script change or other unknown to us change/s done had changed the source code. We all know that the source code is written by Smartmatic and being so can manipulate the same to do what they want. Only a system audit will show what extent of the tampering affected the votes.
    Comelec if they really want to know the truth should allow the system audit period no ifs no buts else we will suspect really a whitewash.

  11. Rizal Sychitpin on

    Refusal by Comelec to a system audit is tantamount to admission of cheating.