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Poll sabotage raps filed vs. Comelec, PPCRV, Smartmatic

A group of concerned citizens on Wednesday filed an electoral sabotage complaint againts the Commission on Elections (Comelec), the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV), and technology provider Smartmatic with the Office of the Ombudsman.

The class suit filed by Mata Sa Balota Movement (BSBM) said the respondents violated Republic Act No. 9369 or The Automated Election Law when the hash code of the transparency server was changed on election day.

"This case presents a classic example where the respondents in conspiracy with each other exercised their duty in bad faith, maliciously, arbitrarily and capriciously," the group said in its complaint.

Sought for comment, Comelec Commissioner Rowena Guanzon said the poll body will study the complaint once they receive a copy.

"'Pag nabasa natin, titignan natin," she told reporters.

Guanzon, meanwhile, clarified that Smartmatic is not an agent of the poll body.

"Hindi ko naman sila ahente (Smartmatic). Why should I be liable? They are not acting as my agent," she said.

The complaint said the Comelec committed "gross and patent" evasion of duty when it allowed the introduction of the new command script on the server while the transmission of results of the May 9 elections was ongoing.

It added that the poll body had a "premeditated refusal" on its part when it failed to act swiftly when it learned that the script has been changed. The group said the alteration tampered with the partial and unofficial tally of votes.

"Malinaw na nagkaroon ng problema sa tinatawag na cosmetic move ng Smartmatic na kung saan hindi magaganap ito nang hindi alam ng Comelec," the group's convenor, Rodolfo Javellana Jr., said.

MSBM is an umbrella group of the Coalition for Clean Air Advocates.

The group alleged that Comelec and Smartmatic connived to change the command script since both have the password for the server.

“The switching in the script could not have been made alone by the respondent Smartmatic IT personnel except for and with the connivance of a Comelec personnel who was responsible for the safe-keeping of the password,” the group said in its complaint.

Javellana said they included PPCRV, led by chairman Henrietta de Villa, in the complaint since the citizen arm failed to question before the poll body and the technology firm the irregularities in the servers.

“Kung ang PPCRV ay talagang nagbabantay sa isang credible na halalan ay sila mismo ang dapat nag-question sa lahat dahil hindi nga dapat maganap yung naganap na,” Javellana said.

Meanwhile, Fr. Robert Reyes, known for his political activism, called for the perpetual ban of Smartmatic to faciliate future elections since other Filipino IT experts are capable of the same responsibility.

“Ang panawagan ko, i-ban for life ang Smartmatic. Let us go, as early as now, call on all Filipinos to put up a more credible IT election system that will be better than what Smartmatic can give us,” he said.

“Ito ay tungkol sa isang democratic exercise na dapat hindi nako-compromise at hindi dapat maging parang eksperimento ng isang kumpanyang dayuhan. I don't want Smartmatic to be in 2019 nor in 2022. Filipinos can do better,” he added.

Reyes urged Comelec to open up the system introduced by Smartmatic to allow experts to investigate if it is clear from any form of tampering and sabotage and ensure the election's integrity.

“We are filing this complaint in order to facilitate openness on the part of a very important agency that will ensure the itnegrity of the democratic exercise of elections,” he said. —with Virgil Lopez/KBK, GMA News