Election for sale

Ex-poll execs sell ‘victory’ for P12M to P200M

INFORMATION technology expert and former Biliran congressman Glenn Chong bared evidence  Friday  that former poll executives had sold guaranteed victories to candidates who could be “programmed to win” in the May 9 automated elections.

At the Contra Canvass forum in Quezon City, Chong, vice chairman and spokesman of the election watchdog Reform Philippines Coalition, said he has received a video showing how a former election officer was selling the system to a politician in the Visayas.

“I have heard of the system being sold for P12 million to one candidate to as high as P200 million depending on the number of candidates programmed to win, but this is the first time I have received a concrete evidence of how it was peddled to candidates,” Chong stated.

Showing a screen grab of the video, Chong said the former election officer offered to make the candidate win by giving him the database of voters in his area.

The candidate would then choose the voters who will be retained and the edited database would be given back to the election officer.

The election officer would then replace the discarded voters with other names complete with biometrics, and these would be used to rig the elections.

Official canvass. Members of the National Board of Canvassers examine a Certificate of Canvass from Iloilo City during the final day of counting of the votes cast during the May 9 elections amid charges of cheating in the lower levels of the counting process. Ver Noveno
“Of course the candidate will just retain the names of his supporters in the database and discard those from the other party. That is the reason many were disenfranchised with names missing or transferred on Election Day,” Chong said.

Those who were programmed to win in the provincial level had the whole slate win from governor down to councilors, he said.

He did not identify them, however.

Chong said the technology in the particular video was sold for P12 million.

He declined to show the video, saying he would show it during a hearing of the Joint Congressional Oversight Committee in the Senate headed by Senator Aquilino Pimentel III.

“I will show this whole video in the JCOC and the witness who is very willing to testify so that everything will be public and official,” he said.

Chong also disclosed that the same technology had also been sold to a party in a province in Luzon for P200 million as it involved the whole provincial slate.

“I already predicted... three months ago that a whole provincial slate from the governor down will win and the rival party will get nothing because I know for a fact that they talked to the same people on the automated election system [AES].

“I am right because the whole ticket eventually won and the other party was wiped out so don’t tell me I’m a fortune teller. I know because they had this same system,” he said.

He also said he received many feelers from witnesses of election fraud and that he was in the process of evaluating each one, including any evidence they could produce.

Questions unanswered. Members of the National Board of Canvassers, including chairmen Senator Aquilino Pimentel III (left) and Cavite Rep. Elpidio Barzaga (back to camera), examine Certificates of Canvass as critics continued to question the integrity of the elections where former election officials supposedly offered ‘victory’ to candidates who could pay for their services. Avito C. Dalan
Chong also disputed the claim of elections lawyer Romulo Macalintal, the counsel for the administration’s vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo, who played down the importance of “undervotes” in the vice presidential race, referring to the difference between the number of votes cast for president and the number cast for vice president.

Chong said international election expert and election book author Douglas Jones, a professor at the University of Iowa, said undervotes should not exceed 1 percent of the total votes cast.

He said that according to Jones, if the number of undervotes reaches 5 percent, it is suspicious and if it reaches 10 percent, it is highly suspicious.

“In the recent polls, the undervotes recorded were at 3.3 million for vice president. That means some 8.43 percent did not vote for vice president,” he said.

Chong said the 8.43 percent undervote was way past the “suspicious category” and near the category of “highly suspicious.”

“This is definitely an anomaly that the Comelec has to explain,” Chong said.

At the national canvassing of the joint committee, George Garcia, the lawyer for vice presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and Macalintal debated the significance of undervotes.

Garcia insisted the 3.2 million undervotes was “unusually high” while Macalintal dismissed it as “nothing unusual.”

Garcia said it was impossible for some 14,000 Ilocanos in Ilocos Norte not to vote for vice president when their fellow Ilocano, Marcos, was among the candidates.

“The Comelec and Smartmatic have to explain this to the public where the 3.2 million votes went? And we want the public to know that up to this day, we are guarding their votes. We are trying to find out how the 3.2 million votes turned out missing,” Garcia said.

In other cases, Garcia said, the undervotes were called “null votes.”

Chong said that given the very suspicious high number of undervotes, and the unauthorized introduction of a new script in the transmission server after the polls closed, “it is safe to say that indeed the May elections were not credible.”

“The 30 consolidation and canvassing system servers or laptops that were sent to Laguna for reconfiguring are also compromised because they could have been reprogrammed for cheating,” Chong said in Filipino.

By not agreeing to a systems audit, Chong said, Comelec Chairman Andres Bautista and the other commissioners were liable for obstruction of justice that was tantamount to a betrayal of public trust, an impeachable offense.

“We challenge the Comelec to open the system for audit now because the longer they dilly-dally, [the more they] make us suspect the delays were deliberate to clean up the system so that we would find nothing there anymore,” he said.

The forensic examination by independent IT exports would reveal what other scripts or programmed instructions were inserted in the transparency server and consolidated counting servers other than the change in character from “?” to “ñ”, Chong said.

Lawyers for Marcos  on Friday  demanded an explanation from Smartmatic Corp., the Comelec’s IT service provider, about the discrepancies found in the electronically transmitted certificates of canvass in several promises.

Garcia, Marcos’ lead counsel, cited the provinces of Nueva Ecija and Ilocos Sur in which the provincial canvassing and consolidation system (CCS) transmitted the COCs when there was an incomplete transmission of results at the municipal level.

“How can the provincial CCS transmit (the COC) to the Comelec when the program says it should be 100 percent transmission of all municipalities in that province?” Garcia said.

He said in the case of the two provinces the respective provincial board of canvassers were unaware the municipal transmissions were incomplete until the Comelec en banc ordered them to recheck and recompute the results.

They later found out that election results in one municipality was not included in the first provincial COC transmitted to the Comelec.

“How can this happen when Smartmatic assured us that their machines are accurate and reliable?” Garcia said.

“It’s their obligation to the Filipino people. They were the ones who supplied to us the machines, they were the ones who supplied to us the system, they were the ones who assured that it will be 99.9996 percent accurate, then an explanation is a must,” he added.

Garcia said that unless clarified and addressed properly, such an issue would likely raise questions over the results of the elections. “What if there was double transmission or no transmission at all yet the results reflect there was one?”

The lawyer said because of the discrepancies and the unusually high percentage of undervotes uncovered during the official canvass for the position of president and vice President losing candidates in other positions are probably now re-checking the results in their own area to find out what really happened.

Garcia also said the public also has the right to know why there was such a high number of undervotes for the position of vice president, which totaled about 3.2 million for the first two days of the official canvass.

“It’s true that some voters opted not to vote for a certain position and that’s normal. But take note of the percentage, that’s 3.2 million voters who did not vote for vice president,” said Garcia.

With such a hotly-contested election and the high voter turnout of over 80 percent, Garcia said the high number of undervotes should be explained. He said areas where large number of undervotes happened were in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Earlier, Marcos sought a systems audit of the central and transparency server of the Comelec after a Smarmatic employee introduced a new script without proper authorization from the Comelec.

It was shortly after the introduction of the script that Marcos began to lose his lead over his closest rival ruling party candidate Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo and eventually overtaken in the unofficial partial results of the elections posted by a poll watchdog group.

Marcos insisted only a system audit would clear doubts on the results of the elections. However, the Comelec rejected the request.

Election watchdog AES Watch co-convenor Bobby Tuazon earlier described the recently concluded election as “disaster.”

“After monopolizing the election technology in three automated elections (2010, 2013, 2016), it is time for Smartmatic to call it quits,” Tuazon said.

He added it was Smartmatic that “practically counted the votes by using a system that is not transparent thus leaving the country’s millions of voters in the dark whether their votes were properly and accurately counted.”

Despite the controversies surrounding the vice presidential race, the 14-member joint congressional canvassing committee is expected to proclaim winners for president and vice president  on Monday.

House Majority Leader and Mandaluyong City Rep. Neptali Gonzales II, head of the House contingent in the joint canvassing committee chaired by congressmen and senators, said lawmakers would finish the task of proclaiming the winning president and vice presidents by next week.

“With the pace the canvassing is going, we are hoping to finish canvassing all the certificates of canvass  tonight  (Friday),” Gonzales said.

Gonzales expressed hope also that the NBOC secretariat will work on the canvassing report during  Saturday  and  Sunday  to prepare this for the approval of the House of Representatives and Senate in a joint session to be called again next week.

As of press time  Friday, the joint panel has finished canvassing more than 140 of 165 COCs.

Topics: Election for sale , official canvass , National Board of Canvassers , COC , automated election , election 2016
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