Smartmatic admits existence of other servers in the AES

22 July 2016

The camp of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. today expressed elation over the admission of Smartmatic that there were not just one but several other servers that existed in the Automated Election System (AES) apart from those sanctioned by the Commission on Elections during the May 2016 elections.

Lawyer Vic Rodriguez, official spokesman of Senator Marcos, said there was a major breakthrough in the case with the admission of Marlon Garcia, Head of the Technical Support Team of Smartmatic, that aside from the three servers sanctioned by the Comelec in the transmission of votes, there also existed a “meet me room” where several servers were housed.

“This is a good day for Senator Marcos’ quest for truth because they (Smartmatic) finally admitted the existence of several other servers aside from the three legally authorized servers,” Rodriguez said.

Marcos’ camp earlier revealed the existence of a "Fourth Server" or the “Queue Server” which had been kept secret from the public by both the Comelec and Smartmatic. Rodriguez pointed out that instead of the votes being transmitted directly to the three servers, namely the Municipal Board of Canvassing server, the Comelec server and the Transparency server, the results were first coursed through a “Queue Server.”

This “Queue Server” was not divulged to the public and was never subjected to a source code review unlike what transpired with the other servers used in the elections, according to Rodriguez. He added that there were no watchers allowed for the said server.

Ever since the camp of Senator Marcos made the disclosure about the existence of the “Queue Server” server last May, both the Comelec and Smartmatic have been tight-lipped on its existence.

However, during the clarificatory hearing at the Manila Prosecutors’ Office on the violation of the Cybercrime Law complaint filed by former Abakada Rep. Jonathan Dela Cruz, political advisor of former Senator Bongbong Marcos, against Smartmatic and Comelec personnel, Garcia admitted that there existed a “meet me room” where the several servers were located.

When the prosecuting panel started asking clarificatory questions, Information Technology expert Ethan Angeles explained that the "Queue Server" was a system wherein all the election data would be first consolidated and processed before releasing the same to the public. It was only then that that Garcia denied that there was indeed such a server.

Rodriguez said the admission of the existence of several other servers in the AES validated their earlier contention that indeed Smartmatic was not forthright in the system it employed during the elections, putting the integrity of the May polls under a cloud of doubt.

Simply stated, the election results which were televised in public did not come directly from the transparency servers, as mandated by law. Instead, the results were first transmitted to a “Queue Server” where they were “consolidated and processed” and it was this “Queue Server” that sent the data to the so-called transparency servers.

Charged with violation of Section 4(a) of the Cybercrime Prevention Act of 2012 or R.A. 10175 were Garcia, a Venezuelan national; Elie Moreno, an Israeli national and Project Director; Neil Baniqued and Mauricio Herrera both members of the Technical Support Team and Comelec IT experts led by Peñalba, Nelson Herrera and Frances Mae Gonzalez who are all assigned at the Information Technology Department (ITD).

Aside from acknowledging the existence of the other servers, Garcia also admitted that he introduced changes in the Transparency Server and that he did so with the concurrence of Peñalba.

Rodriguez pointed out, however, that Garcia's claim was inconsistent with the earlier pronouncements made by Peñalba in an Urgent Memorandum he submitted before the Comelec wherein he stated that he never authorized the change in the script because he did not have any authority to give his consent.

“During the clarificatory hearing, Garcia admitted that even without any authority, he changed the script in the system. He committed another blunder when he told the panel that he got his authority from Comelec employee Rouie Peñalba. Based on Rouie Peñalba's urgent Memorandum dated May 11, however, he expressly stated two things – one, that he did not authorize Marlon Garcia to tinker with the system and second, that he himself did not have any authority from the Comelec to allow anybody to tinker with the system,” he pointed out.

Rodriguez also lauded the decision of the investigating panel hearing the violation of the Cybercrime Law not to allow Smartmatic to motu propio make an audio visual presentation on the AES since this was against accepted procedural rules to make such presentation without being ordered by the prosecutors.

When the hearing ended, the investigating panel ordered the respondents to submit their Rejoinder and answer the clarificatory questions raised by the complainant, after which all the parties were given 10 days to submit their respective Memorandum.