MANILA (Mabuhay) – The Commission on Elections (Comelec) en banc decided to defer action on the request of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. that his team’s IT “experts and programmers” be allowed to audit the servers used in the May 9 elections.
Poll chief Andres Bautista told reporters on Wednesday that the decision was unanimous for several reasons, including the fact that canvassing of votes for president and vice president is already starting at Congress.
“Meron ring agam-agam dahil nagsimula na ang pag-canvass ng ating Kongreso, the Senate and the House of Representatives, at alam rin naman natin na ang kapangyarihang magproklama ng presidente at bise presidente ay ibinibigay ng Saligang Batas sa Kongreso. So ano ang magiging epekto kung hahayaan nating magkaroon ng audit na ganito na ginagawa ng isang kandidato?” Bautista asked.
Marcos asked the poll body last week for the system audit due to doubts that sprung from the “introduction of a new script” to the transparency server, which reflected partial and unofficial results.
The senator’s camp claimed that the script change was suspicious because his lead of about one million votes from administration bet Leni Robredo “began to erode” after the tweak.
Comelec and Smartmatic confirmed that a change was made to the script but maintained that it was only to correct the server’s reading of ‘ñ’ character in the names of some candidates.
Marcos’ camp has already filed a criminal case with the Comelec against Smartmatic project director Marlon Garcia, who made the said tweak, and three others for allegedly violating the Automated Election System Law with the unauthorized change.
They also filed a case of violation of the Cybercrime Prevention Act against those individuals before the Manila Prosecutor’s Office.
Meanwhile, Bautista said the cases are also a point of concern for the en banc. “Kapag nag-audit, anong mangyayari? Gagamitin ba ‘yung ebidensyang ‘yan sa mga kasong naisampa?” he said.
The poll chief also noted that Comelec opened the source code review for parties concerned, months before the polls.
“Binigyan lahat ng partido at kandidato, civil society organizations, ng sapat na panahon para ma-audit, busisiin, pag-aralan ang sistema na gagamitin sa halalan. Since October, since the start of the source code review. So hindi kami masasabing hindi namin binuksan ang aming proseso,” he said.
The Comelec en banc, however, is open to an audit by a third party, such as the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), he added. (MNS)