Sotto calls for probe on alleged manipulation of May 2016 poll results

Published March 6, 2018, 6:11 PM

by Roel Tibay

By  Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday called for probe on the alleged manipulation of the results of the May 2016 elections.

This, as he bared in a privilege speech Wednesday afternoon, that an “impeccably reliable” source gave him “confidential” information on the alleged irregularities during the May 9, 2016 national elections involving the machines of the poll’s technology provider, Smartmatic.

Senator Vicente Sotto III (Kevin Tristan Espiritu / MANILA BULLETIN)
Senator Vicente Sotto III
(Kevin Tristan Espiritu / MANILA BULLETIN)

The Senate Majority Leader said his source provided him records from the joint custody of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) and Smartmatic.

According to his informant, Sotto said there had been transmission of votes occurring as early as May 8, 2016, a day before the automated elections, despite a Comelec en banc resolution stating that canvassers should only convene starting 3 p.m. of May 9.

For instance, a certain internet protocal (IP) address of clustered vote counting machines (VCM) was captured transmitting data to the municipal board of canvassers in Libon, Albay on May 8.

The early transmissions had continued until the morning of May 9, with some VCMs registering votes in the municipality of Angono, Rizal.

Sotto said the two transmissions were only “examples of the numerous early transmissions to different municipal and provincial board of canvassers in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.”

He said the Smartmatic also cannot claim that such transmissions, are part of testing transmission since the official testing ended on April 23, 2016.

Aside from the early transmission, Sotto also bared that there had been a “series of foreign access” to the election servers “before, during and after” the polls.

Citing the same records from the Comelec, the remote accessing was supposedly being done “every minute” by a cloud computing service located in the United States, which is “very similar” to the software product being used by Smartmatic.

Sotto said the information gathered from the country’s election server were copied and submitted to the US-based computing service.

Sotto said the alleged irregularities had resulted in candidates, such as Sen. Grace Poe, who ran as president, and Sen. Panfilo Lacson, getting “zero” votes in many precincts.

He, however, refused to divulge further information provided by his source “unless there is hard evidence.”

He urged the Senate committee on electoral reforms to consider his revelations and conduct an investigation on the matter.

Sotto said his revelations were “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.”

“These issues cannot be ignored as it weakens the propriety of our automated elections 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 elections,” he said.

He also warned about the Comelec’s plan to utilize Smartmatic’s VCMs for the 2019 elections, saying such decision is “problematic.”

Senators supported Sotto’s call and urged to revoke the contract awarded to Smartmatic, or ban the technology provider in future polls.