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Comelec team clears Smartmatic on script alteration on transparency server

The fact-finding team of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) recommended the full payment to Smartmatic, the technology service provider during the May 9, 2016 elections, saying the company did not commit a violation when it made a “cosmetic change” in the script of Comelec transparency server.

Based on the report of radio DZBB, the Comelec fact-finding team said Smartmatic cannot be held liable for any violation of protocol as the introduction of a new script or computer command in the transparency server has not been discussed or barred in any contract or agreement between the Comelec and Smartmatic.  

The DZBB report said the fact-finding team’s report/recommendation is still subject to the Comelec En Banc’s approval.

“As the fact-finding team observed from its documents validation, the creation of the script and provision of Data Package and the Data Push Process were not part of any of the contract with Smartmatic,” the 13-page report dated July 25 read.

“Clearer and more specific guidelines should be established…with emphasis on the strict protocols on the mode of distributions of election results via the transparency server and mirror server and the functions of each and every personnel involved,” the fact-finding report added.

The report was signed by Comelec law department chief Maria Norina Tangaro-Casingal and personnel department chief Margaret Ching.

“With the aforesaid findings, the payment of our contractual obligations and retention fees with Smartmatic as provided in the automated election system contracts should proceed,” the report read.

A few days after the May 9, 2016 elections, former Senator and then Vice Presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. revealed that a new script or computer command was introduced to the transparency server on the eve of the election day.

Smartmatic and Comelec have earlier stated that the script of the transparency server was tweaked only to correct the “?” character into “ñ “ character in the names of some candidates.

Both Comelec and Smartmatic claimed that the change of the script did not affect the transmission of vote results.

Marcos, however, claimed that it was after the introduction of the new script that votes for him stopped coming in and his lead of about one million votes over his closest rival, then Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo began to diminish.

Robredo took the lead over Marcos past 3 a.m. on May 10. On May 27, Robredo was declared by the Congress, sitting as the national board of canvasser, as the winner of the Vice Presidential race with 14,418,817 votes, a lead of only 263,473 votes against Marcos.  

To contest Robredo’s victory, Marcos on June 29 filed an election protest before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, which is composed of the Supreme Court justices.

Marcos, meanwhile, still has pending complaints against Smartmatic and Comelec officials before the Manila Prosecutor’s Office, still in connection with the script alteration of the transparency server. — VVP, GMA News