Marcos camp: Election server tweaked not once but twice

This is is the camp’s fourth allegation of irregularity in the transmission of votes through the Commission on Election servers

Patty Pasion

8:31:41am June 15, 2016

3:8:43am June 16, 2016

RESPONSE. Comelec is set to probe on the criminal case filed by Senator Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr's camp against Smartmatic officials. Photo by Patty Pasion/Rappler

RESPONSE. Comelec is set to probe on the criminal case filed by Senator Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr's camp against Smartmatic officials. Photo by Patty Pasion/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Weeks after the proclamation of Vice President-elect Leni Robredo, the camp of Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr is again alleging another instance of a breach in the election server.

Abakada Party-list Representative Jonathan dela Cruz, Marcos’ campaign adviser, alleged that Smartmatic's Marlon Garcia manipulated the election system in two instances.

“When the observers saw the change in some of the hash code of the system itself, he again intervened and changed some of this and said the hash codes were [just] the same,” Dela Cruz told reporters on Wednesday, June 15.

The second tweak in the server was confirmed by Rouie Peñalba in his letter of explanation to the Comelec dated May 11, regarding dela Cruz’s complaint.  

But Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) IT Director William Yu, among those who noticed that the hash code was not aligned with the rest of the system, explained that the second change was just to adjust the hash code since it was not properly generated.

“The hash code was generated before the change from “?” to “ñ” was made and thus it was not properly generated. The proper procedure is to replace the “?” to “ñ” first before generating the hash code,” he told Rappler in a phone interview. 

Contentions

This is the camp’s fourth allegation of irregularity in the transmission of votes through the Commission on Election (Comelec) servers. Marcos was leading Robredo by about a million during the first surge of transmission but Robredo overtook Marcos by daybreak of May 10.

The Robredo camp earlier explained that the votes from Robredo's bailiwicks came in during the time, causing the surge.

A day after May 9, election day, Dela Cruz and lawyer Jose Amorado, head of Marcos’ quick count operations, accused the ruling Liberal Party of cheating through digital “dagdag-bawas” (point shaving). This was based on a reduction of votes for Senator Francis Escudero by 30,000, which was erroneously reported by GMA News Online and CNN Philippines.

Marcos’ legal camp also cried foul over the reported change in the script in the Comelec server, which they claimed to have affected the number of votes received by the candidates, favoring Robredo.

The Comelec, however, earlier explained that the change of script was just cosmetic in nature as they had to alter the names appearing with “?” instead of “ñ”. They have since pointed out that the change in hash was a non-issue and did not affect the transmission of results in any way.

The Marcos camp also raised the issue of a “fourth server” that was not subjected to a source code review last week. Amorado claimed that the votes were coursed through this server, also called the “queue server” instead of transmitting them directly to the Comelec and Transparency servers.

“Smartmatic reportedly was the one that insisted that the queue server be used with the knowledge of Comelec and some people in the IT group of Comelec ad Smartmatic,” he stressed.

The Marcos camp feared that the queue server, which is located in the “meet me room,” was where could the rigging might have happened because it decrypts the data transmitted.

The "meet me room" is where all the networks are connected. It is located between the vote-counting machines (VCMs) and the Comelec and Transparency Servers.

However, the votes transmitted from the VCMs to these servers do not necessarily pass through the "meet me room," explained Yu. 

Protests

Marcos’ camp has filed a criminal case against Garcia and other Smartmatic and Comelec officials involved in the system breach ahead of Congress’ official canvassing of votes. The Comelec did not respond to the senator’s complaint.  

On Wednesday, June 15, the Comelec proceeded with its initial investigation of the complaint but was cut short because Smartmatic sought a 15-day extension to file a counter-affidavit.

“The lawyers of Smartmatic told the hearing officer that while they received this notice, they did not receive the copies of the complaint that Congressman Dela Cruz executed. Reason why they asked for an extension of 15 days,” Amorado said.

The Comelec is set to resume its preliminary probe on June 30.

Robredo won the hotly contested vice presidential race against Marcos by 263,473 votes. Marcos will file an electoral protest before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) by end-June. – Rappler.com