Smartmatic IT Personnel Responsible for Script Change, 3 Others Charged Before Comelec

20 May 2016

A complaint for the violation of the Automated Election Law was filed today before the Commission on Elections against Smartmatic personnel Marlon Garcia for introducing a new script in the transparency server of the Comelec without proper authorization.

In a 14-page complaint-affidavit, Abakada Party List Rep. Jonathan Dela Cruz named as co-respondent Elie Moreno, Smartmatic project director; Neil Banigued, a member of the Smartmatic Technical Support Team and Rouie Peñalba, IT officer of the Comelec who were involved in the script change.

“The act of ‘tweaking the script of the transparency server caused widespread anxiety and concern amongst the nation. The lapses in protocol have undermined the credibility and integrity of the 2016 elections,” said Dela Cruz, who is also the Campaign Adviser of Vice Presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr.

Specifically, the respondents were charged for the violation of Sections 35 (b) and (c) of R.A No. 8436, as amended by R.A. No. 9369, otherwise known as the Automated Elections Law.

Among others, the law prohibits interfering with “the generation, transmission of election results, data or information.”

Dela Cruz said the law also prohibits “gaining or causing access to, using, altering and destroying computer data, program and system software, network, or any computer-related devices, facilities, hardware or equipment, whether classified or declassified.”

The complaint was based on the written report of the incident by William Yu, PPCRV (Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting) IT Director; separate reports of Peñalba and Moreno to the Commission, as well as various newspaper articles reporting the incident regarding the introduction of a new script to the transparency server.

Dela Cruz said that from the information they gathered, it was clear that the Comelec en banc was not notified of the issue and that the poll body did not authorize Smartmatic to tweak the script of the transparency server.

He noted too that the change was only announced to the persons present inside the Transparency Server room after it was made.

Dela Cruz clarified that the complaint does not allege cheating but was meant to find out the truth regarding the introduction of the script to the transparency server.

“This is an accusation of irregularity. Whether or not this irregularity affected the results remains to be seen if our request for a system audit is granted by the Comelec,” said Atty. Jose Amor Amorado, Head of the internal quick count operation of Marcos.

Earlier, Marcos formally asked the Comelec to allow his own IT experts, with the supervision of the poll body and possible participation of other interested parties, to conduct a system audit not only of the transparency server but also of the central server the poll body used in the elections.

Amorado said that in addition to the complaint, they filed another letter before the poll body asking Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista to provide additional information concerning other components of the Automated Election System.

Among these data include the number of CCS (Consolidation and Canvassing System) laptops/servers that were reported to contain rogue votes coming from the Pre-Election logical accuracy test and mock elections on election day; the municipalities, cities and provinces affected and the measures the poll body took to rectify the supposed error.

In addition, the camp of Marcos also requested the poll body for access to the transmission logs, the white list (vote counting machines, USB devices, BGAN or Broadband Global Area Network); digitally-signed election returns (ERs), and the public and decryption keys to open the transmitted files.

Amorado said that these information and the system audit will determine whether the script change was merely cosmetic, as the Comelec claimed, or affected other aspects of the Automated Election System.