Smartmatic: It’s Comelec running the show

Paterno Esmaquel II
Smartmatic: It’s Comelec running the show
Smartmatic denies that it is overstepping its boundaries after a reported breach in protocol involving a hash code

MANILA, Philippines – Technology provider Smartmatic assured the public on Tuesday, May 17, that it is not overstepping its boundaries after a reported breach in election-related protocol involving a hash code.

In an interview with reporters, Smartmatic voters’ education head Karen Jimeno said, “It’s really Comelec that runs the show, not Smartmatic.”

Smartmatic is under fire for a change in an election-related hash code without the permission of the Comelec en banc, or the 7-member commission sitting as a whole.

The hash code is part of the system receiving election results.

The hash code was changed after a typographical error was corrected in the system. The error displayed the letter “Ñ” as “?” or a question mark. (READ: FAQ: The Ñ issue and alleged fraud in the elections)

On the hash code issue, Jimeno urged the people involved to “look at the facts” before making accusations. (READ: Tale of the hash code: Human error caused results code mismatch)

“Before anyone alleges there’s a breach in protocol, I think what’s important here is first to look at whether there is a protocol for a minor change like a correction of a typographical error,” she said.

Comelec password keyed in

Jimeno said that to make the change in the hash code, the Comelec information technology officer had to type in part of the password.

“There would not have been a change if not for also a member of Comelec putting in the password,” she said. 

Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon has pushed for the investigation of Smartmatic because of the hash code issue.

At the same time, she urged her colleagues on Monday, May 16, to bar Smartmatic officials from leaving the Philippines. 

Jimeno on Tuesday said Guanzon’s appeal is “unnecessary.” She said Smartmatic officials have no intention of leaving the Philippines in the face of the reported breach. 

Responding to Jimeno’s statement on Tuesday, Guanzon said: “You know, Karen is just doing her job, but she should not tell me that what I’m doing is unnecessary. Maybe she wants my job? She’s just doing her job, but I think she should choose her words carefully.” –

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at