THE cascade of votes for Rep. Leni Robredo that allowed her to obliterate the almost one million lead of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on May 10 looked strange and the “movement of the votes” appeared to have been manipulated, a statistics and political science analyst said on Tuesday.
Antonio Contreras, Political Science professor at De La Salle University who also previously taught quantitative analysis at another university, said it was statistically impossible for Robredo to overtake Marcos in the race with 80 percent of the returns already counted.
Marcos was leading the count on the night of May 9 but his numbers and those for his closest rival Robredo were reversed in the early hours of May 10.
Since then, “the increase and decrease of votes between Robredo and Marcos was constant and the graph showed a straight line. This trend was true also with the other vice presidential bets against that of Robredo,” Contreras said during a roundtable interview with The Manila Times on Tuesday.
“Even if we factor in the bailiwicks… It should have been a zigzag line, a natural pattern in elections,” he added, quoting the data analysis posted on the social media by statistician David Yap of the Ateneo de Manila University.
Reports said that since his posts stirred controversy, Yap has deactivated his social media accounts after being bashed online for being “anti-Robredo.”
“At one time, Yap was supposed to hold a public presentation of his statistical findings at [the University of the Philippines-Diliman]but it was canceled for unknown reasons,” another source who asked not to be named told The Times.
“There is a need to exorcise the system. Transparency server is a misnomer. I am not saying that there was cheating, but the movement of the votes [was]indication that somebody caused their changes,” Contreras said.
Even if Robredo is declared winner in the end, she is likely to be hounded by this nightmare, he added.
Contreras said there is a possibility that Congress may only declare the new President because there is a chance that the result of the vice presidential contest may be questioned at the Supreme Court.
“The moment the issue is raised before the Supreme Court, Congress might have no option but to follow the High Court if it decides to grant a certiorari,” the analyst added.
Contreras echoed the proposal of University of the Philippines College of Law Professor and IT expert Rogelio Quevedo for the Comelec to allow the forensic investigation of the servers used in the 2016 polls.
‘’However, we are not allowed to open the files of the Comelec and [technology provider]Smartmatic. I think somebody must seek intervention from the Supreme Court,” he said.
“This will allow us to get into the electronic trail. There you will find if the new script or converting the character “?” to “ñ” had triggered the increase of Robredo’s votes and the decrease of Marcos’ votes within a few hours from 8 p.m. of May 9 to 3 a.m. of May 10,” Contreras added.
Not the first time
Former Comelec Commissioner Gus Lagman said it was not the first time that Smartmatic changed election-related codes.
Lagman recalled that Smartmatic project manager Marlon Garcia did the same thing in 2013 when mid-term polls were held.
Garcia claimed the editing of script was only meant to replace “?” that appeared on the name of a senatorial candidate, to “ñ” and has no effect on the votes received by candidates.
But, according to Lagman, no one will know if the changes done by Garcia were only limited to changing the “?” to “ñ.”
“We cannot say. I cannot make the judgment because I don’t know what he [Garcia] really did,” he said in a radio interview.
“What is clear is that Smartmatic was able to open and made some changes on the system without even asking permission from the poll body,” Lagman noted.
He said Garcia’s actions clearly showed that the automated election system is “very vulnerable” to internal tampering.
“Marlon Garcia proved several times that I’m right in saying that it is vulnerable to tampering by an insider and he should be held liable for his actions,” the former Comelec official added.
“How could we know that no changes were made? We will not know,” he said.
In 2013, Garcia reportedly changed the scripts of the unreviewed source code at the Command Center of the accredited poll watchdog Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting after about 12 million votes for the senatorial elections have already been received just two hours after the voting closed.
Section 28 of the Republic Act 9369 provides that among the prohibited acts include “interfering with, impeding, absconding for purpose of gain, preventing the installation or use of computer counting devices and the processing, storage, generation and transmission of election results, data or information.”
“I hope after this the Comelec will not grant contracts to Smartmatic anymore,” Lagman said.
Below is the full text of Contreras’ post on the matter in his Facebook account:
A CALL TO ALL VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES
To all VP candidates, especially to Rep. Robredo and Senator Marcos
The vote that separates the two front-runners is only around 200k. This, amidst the controversy brought about by the so-called minor but still illegal tweaking by SMARTMATIC of the server and the denials and attempts to trivialize the issue. This only aggravates the doubts now lingering in the minds of people about the credibility of the VP elections. The highly suspicious behavior of the data, the unusually perfect lines and the unexplainable dips in the vote of one candidate and the percentage of transmissions, when seen in the context of the tweaking, now jeopardize the trust of the people on the process of democratically electing our leaders.
Whoever wins in the race will be a minority Vice President, and if these doubts will not be addressed, such minority status will further be weakened as it stands on shaky grounds in terms of legitimacy.
Right now the country is divided and fractured. Professors are now fighting their colleagues. Friendships are now torn apart. Your supporters are at each other’s throats. And only a legitimate and credible winner can help heal these divisions.
We badly need unity and stability as we face the uncertain yet exciting changes which a Duterte presidency promises to bring.
I therefore urge the two frontrunners, and other VP candidates, to set aside your personal political ambitions. You said you want to serve the country. This is the best time to prove it.
Please sign a joint petition for Congress to suspend canvass for VP, and for the COMELEC to take every legal means to re-feed all ballots to secure VCMs. I know this is an extraordinary measure but this is the only way we can restore faith in our system.
There will be no losers here. Only winners.
The winning candidate will be assured of a legitimate victory.
The runner-up, while losing the vote, will nevertheless be a winner in the eyes of the people and will take a special place in our history.
And the people. The sovereign Filipino people will be the ultimate winners for having our votes correctly counted and for having a Vice President that most of us indeed truly voted for