Initial findings known this week
THE Commission on Elections (Comelec) has launched an investigation into the “unauthorized” change of the script of its transparency server by technology provider Smarmatic Corp. that some groups said tainted the integrity of the May 9 elections.
Chairman Juan Andres Bautista on Monday said a committee headed by Comelec Legal Department chief Norie Casingal will look into the incident.
The committee will focus on the administrative liability of Smartmatic project manager Marlon Garcia, who had admitted altering the script without the knowledge and permission of the commission en banc, he said.
“The committee may provide the commission with its preliminary findings within the week,” Bautista said.
The investigation may last for two weeks.
The illegal alteration of the transparency server script, which also automatically changed its hash code, could have gone unnoticed.
However, the camp of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. called public attention to the sudden reversal of his lead over closest rival, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, during the early hours of May 10, just after the day of the elections.
A lawyer for Marcos, Jose Amor Amorado, said they will file more cases against Smartmatic and the Comelec IT representative in the transparency server for opening the system without the required authority from the Comelec en banc.
Amorado said they have enough evidence to pin down the Smartmatic executives and Comelec IT representative based on public documents and the pronouncement by no less than the Comelec that their interference in the system had no authorization. (See related story ‘Marcos to file more raps.’)
Smartmatic admitted that it had no written authority from the Comelec when it altered the script, which Garcia said was only a cosmetic change from the character ‘?’ to ‘ñ’ which appeared on some of the candidates’ names.
It maintained that the change was “innocuous” and that it did not affect the election results.
The Marcos camp has asked the Comelec to allow its own team of IT experts and programmers to conduct an audit of the transparency and central servers of the poll body.
It also filed a criminal case against Garcia, Smartmatic general manager Elie Moreno and Comelec official Neli Banigued and Rouie Peñalba.
The Marcos camp claimed that by changing the script, Smartmatic effectively removed the only security feature of the data by causing the hash code to change.
The Robredo camp welcomed the audit of poll servers but said that it should be done after the proclamation of the winning vice presidential candidate.
The Senate and House of Representatives will convene as the National Board of Canvassers (NBOC) today, Tuesday, to count the votes for candidates for President and Vice President.
Robredo’s camp said Marcos’ request for a system audit shows that he has no proof of errors or irregularities.
“Mr. Marcos is practically asking the Comelec to develop his case,” Robredo’s chief legal counsel, Romulo Macalintal, said in a news briefing on Monday afternoon.
He added that Marcos is fishing for evidence.
“But our legal team is prepared to meet all these arguments,” Macalintal said.
“If he wants to question any certificate of canvass [COC], if he wants to allege errors in transmission, all he has to do is present his own certificate of canvass…That is the challenge that we would like to hurl to Mr. Marcos,” he added.
“Until and unless he presents an authentic copy of a certificate of canvass or any copy of the election returns which does not tally with the certificates of canvass to be canvassed by the Board of Canvassers, the Board of Canvassers – the Senate and the House [of Representatives – has no recourse but to admit and include all the COC in their possession,” Macalintal said.
WITH REINA TOLENTINO