• POLL RESULTS TAINTED – EXPERTS

    Smartmatic faces calls for probe

    19
    UNDER ATTACK Smartmatic project manager Marlon Garcia (above) explains why they had to change the hash code while Commission on Elections spokesman James Jimenez shows the flash drive containing the controversial hash code, the use of which fueled suspicion that the poll results may have been tampered with. PHOTOS BY RUSSELL PALMA

    UNDER ATTACK Smartmatic project
    manager Marlon Garcia (above) explains why they had to change the hash code while Commission on Elections spokesman James
    Jimenez shows the flash drive containing
    the controversial hash code, the use of
    which fueled suspicion that the poll
    results may have been tampered with.
    PHOTOS BY RUSSELL PALMA

    A Commission on Elections (Comelec) personnel and technology provider Smartmatic came under heavy fire Friday as allegations of tampering with the poll results ran thick after they introduced a new script midway through the vote count.

    A Smartmatic engineer said he changed a hash code to correct the character “?” which appeared on some of the candidates’ names, to “ñ”.

    A furious Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon sought a formal en banc investigation into Smartmatic’s “illegal act,” including the poll body’s IT personnel who gave the other half of the password to the Smartmatic technical support team.

    “I believe that Smartmatic has breached our protocol and they should be held accountable
    for it,” Guanzon fumed. “The Commissioners are going to study this and even investigate our own people. If there is malfeasance we will get into the bottom of it.”

    The commissioner stressed that the Automated Election System, which is owned by the government, should not have been touched by anybody without the consent of the Comelec en banc.

    130516_comelec4

    spokesman James Jimenez

    Guanzon said the Comelec may disqualify Smartmatic from future biddings or withhold its performance bond as a consequence of its unauthorized act.

    “They have a performance bond which we can hold. We can also refuse payment unless I am satisfied that the breach was benign,” she warned. “We will look at the contract to see if the breach is enough to disqualify them from future biddings.”

    She said Smartmatic’s action could cast doubts on the credibility and integrity of the elections.

    “There may have been no damage in [the form of]alteration of the results. But there is certainly some effect because now the people are anxious and asking questions,” Guanzon said.

    Smartmatic explained that the change it made was minor and that it did not alter the result of the elections.

    But Rene Azurin, convener of the poll watchdog, AES Watch, said that Smartmatic committed a serious security breach.

    “This now puts the entire canvassing process in serious doubt. The integrity of the automated results can now be reasonably questioned,” Azurin said in a statement.

    “Everyone totally misses the point about a Smartmatic person changing a line in the canvassing program to replace a “ ? ” character into an “ ñ ”. The essential point in this matter is not that the change was “minor:” the crucial issue is that a Smartmatic technician had access to the server program while the canvassing was going on. If that technician can change one character, he can change other things as well,” he pointed out.

    “Indeed, one can speculate that the so-called “minor change” might have been deliberately intended to act as a trigger to launch a sleeping worm or Trojan horse already embedded in the system and programmed to make major changes, including the altering of vote counts. Thus, the Smartmatic spokesman could claim with a straight face that the script change he made was ‘minor,’ while neglecting to say that this trivial change was the trigger for another script that would make major outcome-altering changes,” he added.
    He said similar incidents have occurred in previous elections.

    “In 2010, a Smartmatic technician cavalierly accessed the canvassing program to change the number of voters after the tally showed an erroneous 256 million as the total number of registered voters; and in 2013, a Smartmatic technician accessed the canvassing server to correct a script that produced an astonishing 12 million vote surge barely two hours into the canvassing. These incidents indicate major flaws in the Smartmatic system that our Commission on Elections has been so bent on foisting on the Filipino people,” Azurin said.

    Audit

    Also on Friday, an IT expert challenged the Comelec and Smartmatic to allow a public audit of the 2016 elections to find out if vote-shaving or vote-padding took place, particularly in the vice presidential race where Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo are locked in a tight battle.

    Glenn Chong, former congressman of the lone district of Biliran province and a member of AES Watch, said a public audit would allow experts to look into the system (software) and the platform (hardware), including the mainframe Network Operating Center (NOC) and its backup Redundancy Server.

    Chong, who was invited by the camp of Marcos to explain to the media how tampering may have been executed, said cheating is made possible by either making changes in the NOC and the Redundancy Server, which houses the application and database where an IT operator can make changes, modify, delete, or alter the program by inputting a new script.

    “Smartmatic said the reason why a hash code was changed was that they corrected the character “?” to “ñ”. The best thing they could have done was just ignore the error. It is unbelievable that they forgot the ñ because Smartmatic is a Venezuelan firm that speaks Spanish. The question now is: Was there an overriding necessity to change the ‘?’ to ‘ñ,’ putting the integrity and credibility of the entire 2016 elections doubtful?” Chong said.

    He said while Smartmatic and Comelec may always deny any manipulation of the election results, the “numbers do not lie,” referring to the mysterious decline in the votes for Marcos before midnight of May 9 and Robredo’s eventual increase in votes by 3 a.m. the following day, in less than five hours.

    Chong blamed Smartmatic operations chief Mario Garcia, a Venezuelan, for the mess.

    He said an election syndicate manipulated the results of the polls in Puerto Princesa City where a party swept 13 positions – from mayor, vice mayor, and 10 city councilors. Mayor Lucilo Bayron won against returning mayor Edward Hagedorn.

    “I exposed this as early as February where the syndicate was paid P200 million to ensure a clean-sweep victory,” Chong said.

    As of yesterday, Robredo was still leading by 223,154 votes. She had 14,003,003 votes, against Marcos’ 13,779,847.

    However, the Comelec is not inclined to proclaim Robredo yet since the remaining .08 percent of untabulated votes, numbering more than a million, could still drastically change the results.

    Authorized

    Smartmatic project director Mario Garcia said their personnel have been given authority to access the system because otherwise they would not be able to operate any component of the platform without the other half of the password.

    Garcia claimed that everybody in the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) command center, including representatives of the political parties, were aware of what was going on in accordance with protocol.

    But Guanzon dismissed Garcia’s claim, saying that Smartmatic should have notified the Commission en banc about the need to change anything.

    “Smarmatic should have informed the Commission En Banc what the problem was, what were the consequences and then they should have given us recommendations on how to fix it. They should have not touched the program without our prior knowledge and our official consent,” she stressed.

    The Comelec IT personnel, Rouie Penalba, in a memorandum to the en banc, said he did not instruct Garcia to change the script.

    PPCRV Media Director Anna Singson confirmed that their representatives were among those present when the change was made.

    Election lawyer Manuelito Luna said that Smartmatic violated Republic Act 9369 or the
    Automated Elections Law and the Omnibus Election Code with respect to the rights of candidates and political parties.

    “It was electoral sabotage under a special election law,” Luna said.

    Former Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman also said that Smartmatic did an illegal act because it was strictly prohibited from tinkering with the source code when the counting of votes had started unless there was a Comelec en banc resolution.

    Lagman added that Smartmatic did the same thing in 2013 when it also changed the software without such resolution.

    He, however, agreed that the alteration on the script that also changed the hash code had no effect on the counting of the election results.

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    19 Comments

    1. Because of that unnecessary correction made by smartmatic guy, the whole integrity of election process was jeopardised. Now the result of this election is full of doubt again just like the 2010 and 2013 election.A case should be filed so as the culprit be punished. Manual recount should be done in order to know who the legitimate winners are.

    2. Why make an insignificant change (if that’s what they claim, which I doubt it)..in the middle of vote counting? If it’s only a minor change and would not affect the counting, why was the COMELEC’S notify?.. why can’t they wait until the unofficial counting is done…it’s too suspicious for them to make such changes in the middle of counting without notifying comelec…i believe that reasoning was too shallow and I think it’s a cover up on a deeper program manipulation…there’s too many questions that poses illogical questions…it’s time to manned up and have an honest election…and then fire that company (smartmatic)..they fail to do a thorough system check before the day of election to ensure this kind of problem doesn’t arises, and if electronic voting machine is to be employed again, double check, debugged the machines, operating system, networks and make sure all these machine are secure…then few hours before the election starts, deploy the operating system…once the operating system is installed, it can never be change, add a new script or whatever the case maybe…until after the vote counting are officially over…..this is so ridiculous….

    3. With due respect Ms Guanzon, better save your face and donnnntttt looked back . Resignnnnnn and be answerable for all then ‘hocus pocus’.

    4. Leni ” Rob” redo should not pretend that she has no knowledge of the plot to ” rob” and steal the election from BBM. And for her to say that” election is automated and it cannot be cheated” despite the numerous anomalies reports that VCM was in compromise and presence of VCM in Novotel reported by PPCRV ,and video footings of Marion Garcia,tampering the computer in the middle of canvassing in the evening when they see that BBM is winning by 1 million votes. All Comelec officials are responsible to this rigged election and their denial is unacceptable. BBM must demand checking the aes and recount all the votes manually.. Kababaeng tao, nagpapagamit sa mga uto-uto,” thats a big red flag” nakakahiya sa buong mundo.if you are respectable and honest woman running for one of the highest office, very much aware of the election has been rigged she herself shld ask for recount.

    5. That is the main reason to counter check the computer generated totals via manual counting even only to the precinct level. That way widespread cheating will not happen. Totals of each precinct must be tabulated and manually compared to transmitted totals. Since Comelec has a manual audit on a number of precincts, that will solve the problem.

    6. angel s. paredes on

      in imus city, incumbent re-electionist mayor council line-up , eleven (11) of them got an average 80% of total votes casted. the profile is statistically improbable. I wish comelec can include imus city in thier audit of election results.

    7. Please sent out from the Philippines this SMARTMATIC company, who made the favor on the yellow administration.. Malaking pera na ang nawawala ng mamayan sa pagbabayad ng lagay sa inyo ng gobyernong ito…I will ask Mr. Digong the new President to remove all the workers from TOP to Bottom , all workers of COMELEC. Palitan lahat sila…. including smart matic….. We filipino people can do it by our self. We have a lot of IT engineer for this matter..
      BBM is the real winner for Vice President, not Leni.

    8. To to the CULPRIT of this evil scheme. do not wait elect President duderte to take oath as a President. Just come and clean your name. Remember what he said, he is going to kill criminals. Kayong gumawa sa kalokohan na ito, you are considered CRIMINALS. President elect Duterte , in his 3-6 months in the office, he will go after criminals. Intiende….! Funeraria is just around the corner. So repent or consequence?

    9. “In 2010, a Smartmatic technician cavalierly accessed the canvassing program to change the number of voters after the tally showed an erroneous 256 million as the total number of registered voters; and in 2013, a Smartmatic technician accessed the canvassing server to correct a script that produced an astonishing 12 million vote surge barely two hours into the canvassing. These incidents indicate major flaws in the Smartmatic system that our Commission on Elections has been so bent on foisting on the Filipino people,” Azurin said.

      Three elections under Automated Election Law and similar problems, at varying degrees, always come up. Always, Smartmatic official is involved to the point of tampering of election results. Now that Sen. Gordon is winning, he should revisit the said law which he himself sponsored. We can not anymore compromise succeeding elections. Otherwise, people will lose faith in such process.

      • stryker see on

        I am not an IT expert but merely spectators in this proceedings.It is clear to me that SMARTMATIC breach the protocol. Whether they claimed that it was just a cosmetic change. Fact still remains that there aready doubt in the proceedings. The results are already tainted with doubts. I am not for Leni nor for Marcos, I am for the people of this country. Mere explanation is not to prove that the result of the canvassings was not affected by the change of hash code. Tell it to the marines. People are demanding not only a manual re-count but also make Mr. Marlon Garcia and the SMARTMATIC and even the COMELEC be held liable.This is the only way that may ease the doubts and weary in the minds of the voting public.

      • I agree with that statement, there are already precedent flaws of smartmatic involved in tampering of election results. So my question is why still use this and contract for their services and defective system. I think You cannot resolve a problem with the same solution.

    10. michael richardson on

      About COMELEC and SMARTMATIC’s claim that all the VCMS had the same hash code before the election.

      A lot is talked about the so called ‘hash code’ as though it is similar to DNA. Actually, it is nothing of the sort. It is true that if two program objects have different hash codes, the respective program objects must be different – but anyone who knows anything about it will tell you that the converse is NOT true.

      i.e. if two program objects have the SAME hash code it does not imply that the program objects are EQUAL.

      i.e. The total number of possible hash codes is less than the total number of possible programs (you could repeat a program line a number of times without changing the functionality and get a different hash code).

      Therefore there is not a ‘one to one correspondence’ between every possible program, and every possible hash code.

      It follows that you could produce any number of different programs all with the same hash code with different functionalities!!

      Of course, to do such a thing in order to influence the result of an election would be CORRUPT – and we know that sort of thing couldn’t happen in the Philippines!

      • For the sake of all, especially we voters I agree with the Public Audit to be conducted a recount of the VP votes. Smartmatic and Comelec is saying that the script inserted has nothing to do now justify it through Public Audit, RECOUNT THE VP VOTES to really show that there is no vote shaving or padding. Comelec and smartmatic should comply with that demand.

      • You got that right.NO ELECTION CORRUPTION IN THE PHILLIPPINES!!!! yay!!!!.Like what Chong said, if you can change to “n”, you can change anything. They simply couldn’t do that to DU30 because the lead was so huge and tampering with it could open a pandora’s box on how prepared the administration in rigging this last election. Now, if COMELEC would agree to public audit of the system, that would put some credibility on the results of the VP and senatorial results. But remember, Bautista is the cousin of the President, and believe you me, there is a PLAN B. Watch out Digong.

      • UNDER ATTACK Smartmatic project
        manager Marlon Garcia (above) explains why they had to change the hash code while Commission on Elections spokesman James
        Jimenez shows the flash drive containing
        the controversial hash code, the use of
        which fueled suspicion that the poll
        results may have been tampered with.
        PHOTOS BY RUSSELL PALMA

        I copied this caption for this comment. We are all aware of the Bangladesh Money Laundering now an issue in our country. How did the hackers penetrated the system to steel money and transferred it to the Philippines, is it not through an open device/peripheral inside the bank? as how was explained in the news. Now you are showing the device containing the hash code, how will you explain it now that nothing or it has not changed or alter anything? how will you put to rest the doubting minds and suspicions of changing election results. Only a PUBLIC AUDIT, VP VOTE RECOUNTS to be witness by the public will justify your claims and reasoning.

    11. Roy Señeres protested that is why smartmatic along with comelec debug the source code.

      • Smartmatic should have followed protocol they should have consulted first the comelec en banc for approval to proceed with confirmation of all political representatives in the command center before introducing the script to debug a source code, and before the election have they not tested well the machines including the system.