SEN. Vicente Sotto 3rd on Tuesday sought an investigation into alleged irregularities in the May 2016 national elections, such as early transmissions of votes and “foreign access” to the election results server.
In a privilege speech, Sotto said it was high time the proper Senate committee investigated the Automated Election System and subpoena Commission on Elections officials as well as executives of supplier Smartmatic to shed light on these allegations, which he said came from an “impeccably reliable source.”
The Comelec is preparing for the May 2018 barangay (village) and Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) polls, and will hold mid-term elections in May 2019.
“If we don’t do anything to clear the doubts as to the legitimacy of the previous election, then we put at risk the accuracy of the 2019 elections,” Sotto said.
“Very timely and just recently, a concerned and impeccably reliable source handed to me confidential information as to the irregularities that have transpired in May 2016, which allegedly ‘altered’ the results of the 2016 national elections,” he said.
No one questioned the victory of then Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte as the nation’s 16th president with over 16 million votes, as against the 9.9 million votes of his closest rival, former Interior secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd.
But Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos has an election protest against Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo who defeated him with just over 200,000 votes.
The official results of the 2016 senatorial poll results were: Franklin Drilon with 18,153,384 votes; Joel Villanueva (18,095,333), Sotto (16,833,333), Panfilo Lacson (16,534,028), Richard Gordon (16,297,838), Juan Miguel Zubiri (15,680,284), Emmanuel Pacquiao (15,592,390), Risa Hontiveros (15,543,570), Francis Pangilinan (15,530,505), Sherwin Gatchalian (14,678,620), Ralph Recto (13,898,283), and Leila de Lima (13,793,947).
Former Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chairman Francis Tolentino, who landed in the 13th spot with 12,518,891 votes, is questioning de Lima’s inclusion in the “Magic 12.”
Sotto claimed there was “early transmission of votes” as well as “remote access of our election server” traced to the United Sates.
“These issues cannot be ignored as it weakens the propriety of our automated election system. We must ascertain the accuracy of these allegations as to either make the responsible officials accountable or finally put to rest the questions clouding the results of the 2016 election,” he said.
The Senate Committee on Electoral Reforms, led by Sen. Francis Pangilinan, is set to probe Sotto’s revelation. “I believe that the outcome of any investigation on this matter will surely lead to a more accurate and transparent system and results for the coming 2019 elections,” he said.
Accessed through Amazon?
Sotto cited two instances of early transmission monitored on May 8, 2016, a day before the polls. Transmission codes pointed to the Municipality of Libon, Albay and the Municipality of Angono, Rizal.
However, based on Comelec en banc Resolution 10083, the Board of Canvassers should convene starting 3 p.m. of May 9, 2016.
Sotto noted that the Comelec commissioners had unanimously voted to exercise the poll body’s option to purchase Smartmatic’s vote-counting machines for the 2019 elections.
According to Comelec spokesman James Jimenez, the government would save a lot in purchasing the previously leased machines.
“To me, this decision is a bit problematic, given the numerous unresolved issues that Smartmatic is being accused of in the conduct of the last 2016 national elections,” Sotto said.
“What I am about to present to you may or may not be gospel truth but very accurate information and if these allegations are serious enough and are proven to be true after due investigation, then we have a case of electoral sabotage for the conduct of the 2016 elections,” he said.
On the second issue of foreign access to election servers, Sotto claimed “there were a series of access before, during and after the election.”
He presented a snippet of May 9 secure logs. The senator said the time stamps indicated that someone with username “e360” had access to the server “precisely every minute.”
“So the question now is who is username e360? Apparently e360 is a server in amazonaws.com which is a cloud computing service located mainly in the United States,” Sotto said.
“To conclude the second issue, our election servers were allegedly accessed remotely and information gathered were copied and submitted to a server in the Amazon cloud services in the United States,” he said.