Marcos camp on case filed: ‘It’s not about cheating’

Patty Pasion
Marcos camp on case filed: ‘It’s not about cheating’
'Whatever you do, insert, or manipulate in the system, whether it affects the results or not, is a violation' of the Automated Election Law, says Jonathan dela Cruz

MANILA, Philippines – Hindi naman po pinag-uusapan dito ang dayaan. Ang gusto natin, malaman ano’ng nangyari.” (We are not talking about cheating here. What just want to know what happened.)

This was the statement of the camp of Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr after filing – for the second time – a formal complaint before the Commission on Elections (Comelec) regarding the change in script in the Transparency Server. (READ: Marcos camp files formal request to open Comelec servers)

Marcos’ representatives filed this second complaint even after their candidate’s own lawyer in the official canvassing of votes, former Comelec Chairman Sixto Brillantes Jr, downplayed cheating in the automated elections. He had said that the issue on the hash code is a minor concern. (READ: Poll sabotage? Brillantes: ‘Ang daming bobo sa Pilipinas’

On Friday, May 20, Marcos’ campaign adviser Jonathan dela Cruz submitted a complaint affidavit before the Comelec Law Department.

Respondents of the case were Smartmatic’s technical team head Marlon Garcia, project director Ellie Moreno, and technical team member Neil Baniqued, and Comelec Information Technology Officer Rouie Peñalba.

Dela Cruz accused the 4 of serious breach in the automated election protocol by failing to secure the authority of the Comelec en banc before they changed a script in the server.

Criminal case

Based on the camp’s affidavit, the respondents violated two provisions under Republic Act 9639 or the law on automated election system:

  • Section 25 (b): “interfering with, impeding, absconding for the purposes of gain, preventing the installation or use if computer counting devices and the processing, storage, generation and transmission of election results, data or information.”
  • Section 25 (c): “gaining access or causing access to using altering and destroying computer data, program and system software, network or any computer-related devices, facilities, hardware or equipment.”

“Hindi po natin pinag-uusapan dito ‘yung resulta ng election, kasi alam naman po natin na ‘yung canvassing, sa [May] 25 pa po iyon,” Dela Cruz said. (We are not talking about election results here beause we know that the [official] canvassing will be on May 25 yet.) 

“Meron po sa article [25] dito po sa Automated Election Law na maski na ano’ng ginawa mo, kung meron ka ipinasok o meron kang kinalikot doon sa mga sistema mismo, maski ano pa resulta, violation,” he said. (Article 25 of the Automated Election Law says that whatever you do, insert, or manipulate in the system, whether it affects the results or not, is still a violation.)

Server breach 

Marcos’ camp alleged last week that the cause of Liberal Party bet Leni Robredo’s sudden rise in the vice presidential race – eventually edging out Marcos from the top spot – was the new script that was introduced into the Comelec’s Transparency Server.

Comelec admitted the script in the system was modified, but it was just to correct a typographical error in the names of the candidates, where the letter “Ñ” appeared as “?”. 

Despite the change being “cosmetic,” the poll body also acknowledged that there was a protocol breach when Smartmatic went ahead with the script change without seeking the authorization of the Comelec en banc. Smartmatic’s Garcia, the one who applied the “cosmetic change,” is under the investigation by the commission. –

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Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.