Sotto seeks Senate probe into alleged poll fraud in 2016

Camille Elemia

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Sotto seeks Senate probe into alleged poll fraud in 2016


Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, citing his source, alleges that there was early transmission of votes and foreign access to election servers

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday, March 6, called for an investigation into alleged electoral fraud in the 2016 presidential polls.

Sotto delivered a privilege speech on Tuesday, March 6, and presented data, which he said he received from a “concerned and impeccably reliable” source.

“I urge this august body to consider the facts presented today and conduct the proper investigation. It is high time that the proper Senate committee investigates the Automated Election System and subpoena COMELEC and Smartmatic to provide the relevant data as regards these allegations,” Sotto said.

“In any case, I believe that the outcome of any investigation on this matter will surely lead to a more accurate and transparent system and results for the coming 2019 elections,” he added.

Sotto alleged two things: early transmission of votes and foreign access to election servers.

As early as May 8, Sotto claimed there was already a transmission of data happening. Citing his source, it was done by IP Address to – which he said is an address of a clustered Vote Counting Machine (VCM) or Precinct Count Optical Scan (PCOS).

The transmission code, he said, “points to the Consolidated Canvassing System (CCS) of the Municipality of Libon, Albay.”

He also said that there was also early transmission to the CCS of Angono, Rizal.

The early transmission supposedly continued until the morning of May 9, 2016 – ahead of the official start of the election.

Asked by his colleagues, Sotto said Senators Panfilo Lacson and Grace Poe were among those who got zero votes during the early transmissions. He also said senatorial candidate Francis Tolentino, who has a pending complaint before the Senate Electoral Tribunal against Senator Leila de Lima, received zero votes during that time.

Poe, a former presidential candidate, said: “I would like to make a point. I definitely lost the elections, I know that….On the other hand, it doesn’t mean just because there was a clear winner, other positions should not be looked into especially when the fight is very close.

Sotto also hit Smartmatic’s earlier response on the issue, saying it could not be just a “testing transmission,” as Sotto said said the last official testing was made on April 23, 2016.

Sotto also alleged that election servers “were accessed remotely” and that information gathered were copied and submitted to a server in the Amazon cloud services in the United States. –

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is a former multimedia reporter for Rappler. She covered media and disinformation, the Senate, the Office of the President, and politics.